The Sweetest Film Endings

The way a film ends can be so crucial, yet most of the time film endings are relatively conservative, even when it comes to strange art cinema. From a screenwriting perspective, an ending is responsible for tying things up – or, as is often the case in modernist cinema, deliberately not tying things up. Whatever the case may be, usually the end comes at an appropriate moment and makes sense when we look back at the course of the rest of film. Certainly, some endings are better than others, but for the most part, few really blow our minds.

However, in the course cinema history, a few films end on a truly ridiculous note. These endings fly in the face of convention, and whether or not they actually resolve anything or do what an ending should do, they are just so over the top that we have to appreciate them. The iconoclastic filmmaker of the New German Cinema, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, was known for radical endings. Among his films, The American Soldier (’70) surely has the most ridiculous and entertaining ending. On a literal level, it’s not so radical; the protagonist thinks that he is going to escape, but the police come. His friend (played by Fassbinder) comes to his aid, but when the protagonist’s mother and brother show up on the scene and confuse everyone, the police have time to shoot the criminals down. These concluding notes are not especially radical. However, the brother precedes to engage in an incestuous, necrophiliac sort of sexual advance with his dead brother, and Fassbinder’s theme song, “So Much Tenderness” plays on the soundtrack.

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