Kellie Morrissey bids you farewell – and contemplates how cinema’s greats have done so in the past…
Welcome to the final installment of the Ents section as presented by myself & Mssr. Murph – it’s been pretty awesome to run a full 6 (!) issues this academic year and it’s been especially awesome to write Ents. In honour of the occasion, and because I’m pretty cheesy, I thought it’d be pretty fitting to wrap up Motley’s Ents Section 2010/11 by recounting some of our favourite movie endings. Warning – this may get teary. Oh, and spoilers ahoy!
Milos Forman’s 1984 adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s play is probably one of the more beautiful, entertaining and generally good films of all time: it tells the (mostly fictionalised) story of how Mozart (here portrayed by Tom Hulce as childish, vulgar and incredibly talented – with a very annoying laugh) was (indirectly) murdered by a musical rival at the time, the scheming and insanely jealous Salieri (F. Murray Abraham). The final scene opens with the conclusion of Salieri’s story – he is now infirm and confined to an asylum long after Mozart’s death. The young priest to whom he confessed is visibly shaken, disturbed and clinging to his crucifix – as Salieri is wheeled out of the room, he pauses to speak to the priest. Mozart’s Piano Concerto in D Minor creeps into the background. “I will speak for you, Father,” he says. “I speak for all mediocrities in the world. I am their champion. I am their patron saint.” The final shots are of the ancient Salieri, once a great composer, being wheeled down the corridor of the asylum, crying out to the madmen he’s surrounded with – “Mediocrities of the world – I absolve you!” – before leaning back. He closes his eyes, folds his hand, and opens his mouth. Mozart’s laugh emerges. Fade to black. The scene gave me goosebumps the first time I watched it – a disturbing end to an incredible film.
Midnight Cowboy is an odd one. It’s the story of Joe (Jon Voight), a young Texan who comes to New York to make it as a male prostitute. He meets Ratso (Dustin Hoffman), who initially scams him out of money before the two make friends in the face of extreme poverty, unemployment and a harsh winter. Ratso, while a shady character, is also sick: he wants to make it out of New York and with worsening health, the two attempt to hire Joe out as a stud. Increasingly desperate and after a string of disturbing sexual encounters, Joe beats and robs a customer, and the two depart for Miami on a bus. However, Ratso is incredibly ill, and just as Joe wonders aloud about their new life in Miami, he realises Ratso has died beside him. Joe alerts the bus driver, who replies there is nothing left to do but continue to Miami, and Joe sits beside his dead friend, watching the landscape change outside. Seriously sombre stuff after an hour and a half of gritty drama, but highly recommended.
“Life is a state of mind” are the last lines of this brilliant film, starring Peter Sellers as Chance the Gardener, a simple-minded middle-aged man who, after years of peaceful isolation tending the garden of a wealthy townhouse in Washington DC, is turned out on the streets when its owner dies. Chance, dressed well but old-fashioned, wanders aimlessly until he is hit by the car of Ben Rand, a wealthy businessman and close aide to the President. Mistaking Chance the Gardener for “Chauncey Gardiner” (a mispronunciation), Rand and his wife (Shirley Maclaine) also mistake Chance’s simple musings about gardening (“As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden”) for sage comments on the economy. He becomes an advisor to the President, appears on television and is offered book deals – all the while oblivious to what occurs around him. Finally, the terminally ill Rand dies: the final scene is his funeral. Chance wanders away once more, tends to a sapling and continues to stroll across the surface of a small lake. A few strides in, he pauses, pushes his umbrella down through the water as if to test its depth, and continues on his way. Is any interpretation sufficient? Roger Ebert says this of Being There: “The movie presents us with an image, and while you may discuss the meaning of the image, it is not permitted to devise explanations for it. Since Ashby does not show a pier, there is no pier – a movie is exactly what it shows us, and nothing more.”
I don’t like Kids. I’m pretty hard to shock when it comes to movies, but there’s something really ugly about this one – also, the early 90s clothes and jargon make it a hard one to relate to, whatever your socioeconomic status. That said, however, its ending is really something - it’s the story of Telly, a 17 year old skater from New York who really likes sex but only deflowers virgins on the premise that this will protect him from STDs. Telly’s friends are cinema’s stereotypical teenaged sex, booze and drug addicts: all except Jenny (Chloe Sevigny), who has only ever had sex with Telly and has just discovered that she has HIV. For the rest of the movie, she attempts to find the also-HIV positive Telly, who has since had sex with many young girls, eventually finding him at a house party, having sex with a 13 year old girl. Exhausted and under the influence of party drugs, she passes out only for Telly’s friend Casper (Justin Pierce) to rape her, thus exposing himself to HIV. The final shot opens on a naked Casper, who wakes up, looks around in disbelief and asks the camera, “Jesus Christ, what happened?” It’s shocking and a little viewer-exploitative, but it works.
Some Like it Hot
It’s hard not to love Some Like it Hot: if you’ve not seen it, get out and get it, now – even if you don’t like older movies, SLiH is a treat. Mostly because it’s aged extremely well – you’ll get every one of the jokes, all the laughs are still intact and man, Marilyn Monroe is very sexy here. It’s the story of two musicians, Jerry (Jack Lemmon) and Joe (Tony Curtis) who witness a gangster shooting and flee the scene, disguising themselves as Josephine (Curtis) and Daphne (Lemmon) and joining a woman’s touring band. There they meet Sugar Kane (Monroe), whom Curtis falls in love with. He proceeds to disguise himself as a millionaire to win her over, while Daphne is unwillingly romanced by Osgood, another millionaire. It’s very zany, very clever, wonderfully witty – and its final scene is its best. Joe reveals himself to Sugar, who loves him anyway, while Osgood and the still-disguised Jerry escape in a boat. Jerry reveals “herself” to Osgood -
Jerry: Osgood, I’m gonna level with you. We can’t get married at all.
Osgood: Why not?
Jerry: Well, in the first place, I’m not a natural blonde.
Osgood: Doesn’t matter.
Jerry: I smoke! I smoke all the time!
Osgood: I don’t care.
Jerry: Well, I have a terrible past. For three years now, I’ve been living with a saxophone player.
Osgood: I forgive you.
Jerry: [Tragically] I can never have children!
Osgood: We can adopt some.
Jerry: But you don’t understand, Osgood!
[Pulls off wig]
Jerry: I’m a man!
Osgood: Well, nobody’s perfect!
And they ride off into the sunset. End scene. What a perfect close.