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> To what end The Happy Ending?
 
My theory about the happy ending theory is that studios recognize
the audience must receive perceived-value-for-money.  Since the
film industry is really an anti-literate subculture, they really
don't know how to (a) read, by and large, or (b) articulate what
may be missing from their goals and strategies in story
development. Their resolution is to demand a "happy ending"
"because no one wants to see a sad ending."
 
We all know this is not true, but on a deeper level, there IS
some kind of "yearning" by audiences for satisfaction from seeing
a movie. Tonight I'm taking Jim Bonnet's course in universal
symbolism in story structure (Campbell-haters take note!!) for
the second time. His theory is that audiences have a fundamental
hunger for stories which articulate universal symbols and truths.
An analysis of the great films (I remember someone challenged the
concept of "great" a week ago, but _I_ believe in it) shows that
they portray architypal stories and symbols in a refreshing
guise, thus helping the viewer to make some sense out of her/his
reality. Jim's course is valuable not only to screenwriters,
but also to writers in general, and those working with dreams
and symbols in their own lives.
 
Tying this discussion in with earlier ones on this list, it seems
clear that only a multi-disciplinary approach can bring us
closer to the nature of film. We have to combine scientific and
statistical studies of its effects with an understanding of
story structure and symbolism to answer questions such as
this one about "happy endings."
 
Anyone interested can give Jim Bonnet a call at 213-277-6268.