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Best Movies with Ambiguous Endings?


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La Dolce Vita. My favorite film, and favorite ending by far, of all time. Poignant and unforgettable.
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John Carpenter's The Thing.

Excellent choice! The "ambiguous ending" applies to any number of horror films, which cheapened the concept as a way of setting up sequels. But some of the best films, like the one you mentioned, never had sequels. (Why am I thinking that a sequel was recently announced? Please tell me I'm wrong.)

Marc Abraham, the producer of Children of Men, said this week that he would like to produce a "prequel" to John Carpenter's The Thing, recounting events at the Norwegian research outpost that occur in the days or weeks before the American research team has their close encounter.

FWIW, I guess there's a better spot to post this, but I'm too lazy to find it. Sue me.

I watched Carperter's "The Thing" when I was six. Shame on my dad. He asked me what I thought about it when it finished and I replied, "suicidal". I didn't even know what that meant; I just knew that's the description Han Solo used when Luke asked him to assist in the Death Star assault--hopeless, frightening, pointless.

I had nightmares for days of flying saucers attacking the earth. I remember sitting in the upstairs hallway because at least there was a nightlight there. I don't like horror movies probably due to this film. Too scary/freaky. Images from this film are burned in my mind--the body being absorbed by the thing; the CPR scene; Wilfred Brimley running out into the snowy night as he burned. I don't know if these scenes are accurately remembered--just that at some sub-conscious level, they give concrete visuals to my fear.

After highlighting this film for its ambiguous endings, I thought to myself, I should see this one again. So two nights ago, I fired up my Netflix insta-view and started "The Thing".

I only made it through thirteen minutes before I had to turn it off.

Now that's the power of cinema for you.

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Buckeye Jones wrote:

: I watched Carperter's "The Thing" when I was six. Shame on my dad. He asked me what I thought about it when it finished and I replied, "suicidal". I didn't even know what that meant; I just knew that's the description Han Solo used when Luke asked him to assist in the Death Star assault--hopeless, frightening, pointless.

That's an awesome story. I can only hope that my boy says something like that at six, and for similar reasons -- but perhaps not TOO similar (no shame on me, I hope). :)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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IMO, I would think that the Dardennes's movies' endings are open without being "ambiguous". The difference is, life always goes on after the story is over (unless it's apocalyptic!), and so every ending is open, at least to some degree. But ambiguous endings are those where the central plot isn't fully resolved. So, for instance, in The Son, an ambiguous ending would leave us not knowing whether

the father was reconciled with the boy who killed his son.

That's just how eye roll.

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Winter Light (in my opinion one of the most perfectly ambiguous films grappling with faith, ever)

And lest we forget, probably one of the most disputed endings of all-time in of the the most disputed best films of all-time, Citizen Kane ("Rosebud")

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Winter Light (in my opinion one of the most perfectly ambiguous films grappling with faith, ever)

And lest we forget, probably one of the most disputed endings of all-time in of the the most disputed best films of all-time, Citizen Kane ("Rosebud")

Winter Light is incredibly gloomy, for the most part, but I do like it, for its artistry and for the intense grappling with theological and philosophical questions. The ending is one of my favorites (although I don't interpret it as many people do!). Good choice! Man, I miss Bergman!

Edited by Truetruth
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  • 6 years later...

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