What Makes Some Movie Endings Satisfying? This Video Essay Explains

Anna Green

The final shots of a movie are often the images most likely to linger with us after the film ends. While a good ending can reinforce the major themes in a film, or leave us with an unexpected new perspective, a bad ending can come close to ruining a film, leaving us unsatisfied when the credits start to roll. But what makes a movie ending effective or unsatisfying? In the above video essay “How to End a Movie,” YouTube user Now You See It explores a range of classic final scenes, explaining why some work, while others don’t.

Using Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960) and its unpopular 1998 remake as a case study, the video explains how subtle differences in the endings of the two films left viewers impressed with the original and disappointed in the remake. Then, looking at oft-used ending devices—characters riding off into the sunset or walking away into a crowd, doors closing, and so on—the video shows how the same ending can be effective in one film, and profoundly disappointing in another.

[h/t Gizmodo]

Banner Image Credit: Now You See It, YouTube