Re: Whatever happened to "The End?"

From: David P. Hayes
Newsgroups: rec.arts.movies.past-films
Date: Sunday, February 01, 1998 1:37 PM

FilmGene wrote in message <>…
>"The End" made sense at a time when it was actually the last thing an audience
>saw. Aside from cast lists occasionally, it was the last image in a film. (In a
>pretentious film, it was "Finis".)
>When there can be up to ten minutes of credits and even out-takes at the end of
>a film, such a title is absurd.

The ceasing of the use of the words "The End" after the conclusion of the story in movies, occurred around the time that movies began to be made by filmmakers who had graduated from film schools which had steeped them in foreign films. (Spielberg, Coppola, Lucas, et al, are sometimes referred to as "the film school generation.") Swedish films, as seen in their American releases, had been without "the end" titles for decades. As seen by American audiences, Swedish films let the screen go black as soon as the story is over. This is not how they are shown in Sweden.

I had seen about two dozen Swedish films before I saw one where the American distributor left in the original Swedish "end" title, and then I understood why an American distributor would remove the original title. The Swedish equivalent for "The End" is "Slut." Seeing these letters on the screen casts an impression upon the audience unintended by the original filmmakers. (A beautiful close-up of Ingrid Bergman in one of her 1930s Swedish productions gingerly fades out in luminous glory, then those four letters appear in bold lettering upon a plain background. It almost seems like a statement, but then a studio logo appears to put that term in proper perspective.)

Perhaps American film students were pleased by the effect they experienced when the screen went black instead of going to a "The End" title, and they sought to duplicate that. As for massive credit rolls, that's often a contractual matter outside the filmmaker's hands. (Does anyone think that the caterer contributed to the artistic caliber of the movie?)

Occasionally, the words "The End" do appear after the story, as in "Back to the Future Part III," where the six bold, colorful, moving letters convey a finality, an assurance by the filmmakers that the story has reached its conclusion and that sequels have been ruled out.

David Hayes


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