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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  • Jeff

    Another great ending from New German Cinema: the dancing chicken at the end of Stroszek.

  • Ray Straight

    'Enter the Void' had a pretty strange ending: ten minutes of the camera sweeping through an imaginary neon hotel with just about every character in the movie having sex with one another – culminating in an EXTREME close-up of vaginal intercourse and an orgasm (from an inside perspective).


    “In one of the countless billions of galaxies in the universe, lies a medium-sized star, and one of its satellites, a green and insignificant planet, is now dead. “

    Name that ending.

    • Larry

      Beneath the Planet of the Apes.


        good job Larry! You're like my Nova.

  • Peter Farfan

    Something more conventional. Peter Weir's Fearless. Orgasmical.

  • alex

    but didn't Lavant kill himself in the end?

  • es

    the ending of pierrot le fou…after killing his former lover, decides to kill himself, then changes his mind…

    • Dan Hoffman

      This is also a good one.

  • Joseph Ernest Harper

    Really enjoying yr articles, Hoffman.

  • Caroline Evertz

    The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover is another one with a CRAZY ending. Highly recommend watching it.

  • MES

    Don't forget ZABRISKIE POINT, the metaphorical(?) destruction of the late-60's American bourgeois and some Floyd:

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