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Your favorite ambiguous endings

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Dick Whitman, Aug 28, 2014.

  1. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    As most probably know by now, David Chase revived the great "Sopranos" debate yesterday by telling a writer for Vox that "Tony didn't die." (Apparently Chase later walked it back somewhat.)

    Got me to thinking about what some of my favorite ambiguous endings to movies, TV series, and novels are.

    A lot to choose from, but I'll pick one to start things off:

    At the end of "The Shining," the movie version, the camera zooms in on a photo hanging on a wall in the Overlook Hotel. The black-and-white caption says something along the lines of, "July 4, 1921, Overlook Hotel Celebration." Smack dab in the middle of it is Jack Nicholson's character, Jack Torrance, dressed to the nines.

    My working interpretation is that the photo is purely symbolic, and that Nicholson in the photo is meant to represent the evil that always has and always will inhabit the Overlook. Since he was the face of that evil the entire movie, that's who we see in that photo representing it. This is supported by the dead-on similarity between Nicholson's pose in the photo and the tarot card of the devil.



    Two problems that make my interpretation unsatisfactory:

    (1) I don't think that "The Shining" is a movie about evil. I think it's about the frustrations of domestic life, of feeling trapped; and

    (2) It's purely symbolic, and to work, symbolism should work on both levels - as symbolism, and as a part of the actual plot of the work.

    Anyway, what are your favorites? Or weigh on "The Sopranos" or "The Shining." Could be a fun discussion.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  2. MisterCreosote

    MisterCreosote Well-Known Member

    "Before Sunset." It was an ambiguous ending without being a copout, like most are.
  3. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Not favorite but one that made me furious was Giamatti knocking on the door in Sideways, then fade to black.

    Over the years I've come to the conclusion that what they were saying is it doesn't matter if she opened the door (or even if she did and said yes or no) but rather Giamatti's character stopped being such a downer petulant asshole and at least made an effort to live life, which includes finding the nerve to ask someone out on a date.
  4. Off the top of my head
    Inception is my favorite. I think that debate could go back and forth.
    The Thing (John Carpenter's version) ...
    Total Recall

    I know someone is going to list The Wrestler. But I don't thing its ambiguous. They just didn't show us the end result . It was set up and plotted out.
  5. Mr. Sunshine

    Mr. Sunshine Well-Known Member

    American Beauty
  6. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    No Country for Old Men comes to mind. Jessie's fate in Breakimg Bad does, too.

    I can't believe a spoiler-decrier made this thread.
  7. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    Ice Cube's fate in Today Was A Good Day.
  8. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I'm not a spoiler decrier.

    I started a thread on an early season of a show, and reasonably requested no late-season spoilers. At which point the biggest troll cocksucker in board history dropped a show-spoiling spoiler. Just to be the piece of shit cocksucker that he is.
  9. MisterCreosote

    MisterCreosote Well-Known Member

    Doesn't the word "ambiguous" kind of imply that there aren't spoilers?
  10. Versatile

    Versatile Active Member

    I disagree. The very fact that Jessie's ending in Breaking Bad is ambiguous tells you he avoids death and arrest for the duration of the show.
  11. da man

    da man Well-Known Member

    I love the ending of The Candidate: "What do I do now?"
  12. Steak Snabler

    Steak Snabler Well-Known Member

    "Forget it Jake, it's Chinatown."
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