We’re a little over a hundred and twenty years into the history of movie-era since the technology was invented to allow the evolution of cinema.
What the first movie ever made was is kind of a hot debate because you could argue that 1878’s “The Horse in Motion” was the first moving photography but it didn’t have a narrative like 1888’s “Roundhay Garden Scene.”
Nevertheless of the first, last or origin, what is the most controversial movie ending of all time?
It’s probably not hyperbolic to say that there have been probably a million movies made since the conception of the film. All across the world and even small low-budget independent movies need to be added to the pantheon, and in that case, it could be millions. It’s kind of impossible to really estimate.
There have been some controversial endings to movies. From the distraught to the grotesque, from the eye rolling to the implausible – many narrative endings run the gamut of emotions.
One of the great controversial endings of all time was Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” when Roy Neary decides to leave his family behind to board the spaceship.
Spielberg told Fox News, “There’s a story running around Hollywood right now where Steven Spielberg said that if he had known, had he been married when he did ‘Close Encounters,’ he would have never done the ending of the film the same way. It would have hurt him to leave his family, his wife, his children.”
It’s a really messed up ending. He’s just going to leave his family behind? It was jaw dropping.
Richard Dreyfuss (Neary) was asked if he would change the ending recently and he said, “And I say, with all due respect to Steven Spielberg, and I do respect him: nonsense. There’s no other ending for that story. It would have been a terrible letdown to travel with this obsession throughout the whole movie and then go, ‘Oh s—, I just remember I have to do something, I can’t leave. Sorry.’ That’s a no. Unacceptable.”
So what other movies have overtly controversial endings?
One is in theaters right now with “Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood.” Without giving anything away, Tarantino revised history with a controversial rewrite of one of the real-life, arguably most gruesome murders in American history.
But what else?
Is David Fincher’s “Se7en” an intense jaw-dropping ending? Is it controversial? It’s one of the few examples of a Hollywood movie where the bad guy won in the end.
How about something like “Taxi Driver?”
Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) was on his way to assassinate a presidential candidate and it was always clear throughout the narrative that he wanted to take out his frustration in a violent way for some semblance of catharsis. So when he murders drug dealers to save a 14-year-old prostitute (Jodie Foster), he’s suddenly hailed as a hero, but we the audience, know his mental illness is extreme.
“The Graduate” has a hugely controversial ending and is kind of the selling point of it being one of the greatest movies. There’s this heroic climax when Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman) saves Elaine Robinson (Katharine Ross) from marriage and as they storm out of the church, away from the wedding, there’s a moment of sincere regret as they ride away in the back of the bus.
There are probably thousands of controversial examples. What do you think is the most controversial?