What makes a great ending?

As you do when you are too tired to do anything else, I was just wandering round the Amazon "3 for £15" DVD pages (as I’ve  had two in my basket for ages and"need" a third before making my order) when I came across Is Paris Burning?

Now it must be ages since I have seen this film, and I don’t remember all that much about it. I seem to recall it was a documentary-style story about the Nazis’ attempted destruction of, er, Paris. One of the first "drama-docs"? (I remember another such, the excellent but ludicrously hampering low-budget film called "It Happened Here", but that was more of a "what would have happened if the Nazis had invaded Britain?" film in docu-style than a "drama-doc".)

But the one thing I remember about Is Paris Burning? is the ending.  The movie ended with a phone receiver lying on a desk in a destroyed office, with a disembodied voice (Hitler’s?) shouting down it "Is Paris Burning?" "Is Paris Burning?", while all around the Germans were being routed — which of course the caller could not see.

Can anyone else remember any stunning ends  to movies? I can never forget the ending to The Long Good Friday (close-up of Bob Hoskins the back of the car that went on for ever — his expressions ran through the gamut of emotions that told you everything about his realisations of past, present and future — perfect and brilliant acting). But I am stuck on others. Any suggestions?

5 thoughts on “What makes a great ending?

  1. The two that spring to my mind are the endings of ‘Donnie Darko’ and ‘About Schmidt’ which featured a close-up of Hoskins too, now I come to think about it. The music was important in each one and I found them both so incredibly moving they haunted me for days. Thanks for the tipo about ‘Paris Burning’, Maxine. I ‘ll add it to my list.
    I saw ‘Some Like It Hot’ years and years ago and to my shame can’t remember the ending at all. I’m going to have to take another look now…

  2. To my shame I have seen neither of those films, Clare. My cinema-going stopped circa 1991 (when I had Cathy). I have, however, seen some like it hot, and I agree with Elaine that the ending was brilliant. An old Florida millionaire had been chasing the Jack Lemmon in drag (disguise) character during the whole movie, and the final scene was of them going off into the sunset in a boat, with Lemmon having finally admitted the awful truth about his gender and the millionaire beaming away saying “I dont care” (or words to that effect). Oh innocent days! I recall the movie as a delight.

  3. Speaking of drag, when I first began reading this post I thought of a great documentary titled “Paris is Burning.” It’s about drag queens in New York and their annual ball. How funny. And I do recommend it, too!
    What about ending of “Primal Fear”? Quite a twist there.

  4. Speaking of drag, when I first began reading this post I thought of a great documentary titled “Paris is Burning.” It’s about drag queens in New York and their annual ball. How funny. And I do recommend it, too!
    What about ending of “Primal Fear”? Quite a twist there.

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