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Klaus Bardenhagen wonders:

> I am looking for films with a happy ending that is deceptive, e.g., it can be
> read as illusionary while the "real" ending is less happy.
>
> Examples: "Les Amants de Pont Neuf" and "Will it snow for christmas?"
> Both endings can be interpreted as the protagonists commiting suicide, and the
> images might be what goes on in their head at the moment of death (a
> la "Incidence at owl creek's bridge".

While I heartily endorse Mike Frank's reference to Hitchcock's dodgy
endings and references to films like BLUE VELVET, the "deception" in
those and other instances seems more often a matter of dramatic
ambiguity rather than the split between "objective" and "subjective"
realities that your examples suggest.  The former might cover a wide
range of film endings, including many of Kubrick's films, Bresson's
BALTHASSAR, a number of Bergman's and Fassbinder's films, and so on.

The ending of Fosse's ALL THAT JAZZ and the previously cited BRAZIL
seem good examples of the latter.  The deaths of the artist beggar and
his son in Kurosawa's DODESKADEN, Imamura's THE EEL, and Lynch's THE
ELEPHANT MAN also seem to fit, albeit in rather different ways.
Fellini's 8 1/2 might be a genuinely ambiguous ending situated between
the two types.

One of the problems with the latter kind of film hinges on whether the
film is actually presenting the "happy" ending as illusory or, on the
other hand, as a kind of transcendence.  In such cases, it might be
argued that the "illusion" is actually a higher reality.  That is
implied in a number of classic Hollywood films that evoke the memories
of the main characters after their deaths, often by envisioning them as
ghosts or spirits or through flashbacks--films like these range from
THREE COMARDES to THE WILD BUNCH and many others.


Don Larsson

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Donald F. Larsson, English Department, AH 230
Minnesota State University
Mankato, MN  56001

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