fantastic Cinema : an escape impossible

Abrupt end, end mockery, the end of liar : the last images of a film can leave an uneasiness in the mind of the viewer.

To be a character of fiction, this is not always easy to live with ! If we as spectators can enjoy the stories as experiences cathartics which shape indirectly our course emotional, in terms of characters locked away on the other side of the screen, the experience can quickly turn into a nightmare. A nightmare from which they do not wake up, even when writing the word end. When we raised the question of the outcome of a narrative in genre cinema, we think in the first place one of the basic codes of the horror called “blink of an evil eye”, where the threat re-emerge in a final scene to leave the viewer with an impression of tension.

If I tell you “It can do nothing more we are getting awful now…“, it speaks to you ?

Yes, because The City of fear pastiche with relevance this code that plays on the surprise effect by changing the rhythmic classic in three acts (establishment, events, outcome), and which, paradoxically, has become over the decades of cinema operating, a blink of an eye predictable or even expected by a public accomplice.

But beyond the blink of an evil eye and his concept of the second breath of the antagonism, some filmmakers are taking advantage of the public’s expectations about the ordinary course of a story, to extend the dramatic tension and to continue its effect in the mind of the viewer. Where it would have taken to believe that conclusion without ambiguity refermerait the parenthesis spatio-temporal of the story, the blink of evil eye allows, light of a clear end and, ultimately, a reading of the story in its entirety according to a paradigm binary : optimism or pessimism.

Of course, the impact of the end of the film on the film experience varies according to the option chosen in this paradigm. But a filmmaker does not necessarily need to support his vision of a story in délayant the outcome in a too-full of information, nor taking much time to install this information that was taken during the introduction at the beginning of the film. An imbalance between the establishment, the unfolding of a plot, and an abrupt end, can result in an effect of stupor, perfectly assumed by the producer. It is on this effect that Jaume Balaguero abruptly interrupted The Cult with no name, a last image of shock, and the reply just as amazing of a character who shoots himself in the head. The spectator has followed the investigation which takes the place of a spine in this thriller horror, and when he believes finally reach the head, he discovered with dismay that the story has been decapitated. His brain paralyzed by the shock, visual and emotional aspects of this final scene, it is impossible for the viewer to figure out what might follow the black screen and the credits that falls like a bombshell.

In the same vein, we can mention the Invasion of The Snatchers by Philip Kaufman, where a group of protagonists discovers that San Francisco is invaded by aliens, which replace discreetly humans by copies related to the same collective consciousness. The final scene is particularly nihilistic, because the main character betrays his true nature with a cry inhuman. The antagonist is present, the center of the frame, and without anyone having seen it coming, it has even condemned all the issues of the story. Chilling.

Another interesting case among the stories from sentenced, the one to The Lair of insanity , the conclusion of which absolutely hopeless is tinged with caustic irony. The least we can say is that this masterpiece of John Carpenter, mixing of the universes that are close to those of Stephen King and H. P Lovecraft, holds the promise of its title. In fact, the audience as the main character is progressing here in a brown case and ask both if they are not going to lose the reason. This loss of references between the different layers of a narrative that reaches its climax at the final scene where the main character becomes in his turn the spectator of the film, not knowing if he should laugh or cry at the spectacle of her story projected on the big screen.

The narrative therefore represents a framework for determining the trajectory of the protagonist, as the spectator, without the need for as much physical presence to the image. Its efficiency is more of the order of feeling and observation. However, some filmmakers may choose to represent clearly the issues convicted in a physical form, such as Michele Soavi where he developed the end-absurd of Dellamorte Dellamore. Here we have an example of a protagonist as much a prisoner of a history of insane, as a decoration, of a closed universe, which is the resonating chamber perfect for this story. Again, it is a question of an escape impossible, which is expressed on the material plane by a road without end, to symbolise the problem of the spirit that goes through the mind of the main character.

Soavi has chosen to pair the material plane and the spiritual plane to show the impossibility of an escape from the narrative, while the approach of director Terry Gilliam, playing with these two notions, gives a different result at the end of Brazil. The protagonist has dreamed of a free, powerful, flying over the world of the totalitarian that he undergoes on a daily basis and the viewer is taken gradually to believe in this dream, the reflection obviously of a political utopia. But the final scene knocks down the hope in flight, and the representation of color, lyrical and romantic in the dream, following the return cruel to the colour and architecture of totalitarian in which the protagonist is finally prisoner, with only one outlet, the melody of bossa nova, which gives its title to the film, and which is still running in a loop in his head. Gilliam has played on an opposition between the spiritual plane, the dream, therefore, of the ideal, and the material plane, the alarm clock, which of reality.

However, this opposition between the ideal and reality does not determine the fate of a story for all the films where she appears. It may in some cases represent an awareness of salvation for the protagonists. If you are from the school Of Brian de Palma and that you enjoy the next bantering that carries the developer on the genre of the thriller, you certainly have the memory of the end of Body Double. Then he is buried alive in what appears to him as the “real”, the main character, an actor by profession, fate, literally, of this level of reality to take a break and discuss the scenario, as it would in the course of its business. This recourse to the artificial setting of the film, thus enables him to dramatize the events he is experiencing, and overcoming, by the same occasion his claustrophobia. By becoming aware that it is part of a narrative genre was codified, the character advances in his emotional journey, though it must at the end of this scene and return to the story in order to advance its plot.

If Brian De Palma is circumscribed by this awareness to a bracket introspective, other filmmakers see it as the key to the emancipation of the characters, a goal achieved in the evolution of their conception of the world as themselves. With Pleasantville, Gary Ross addresses this question as the point of divergence main between the choices of the characters in the last part of the film. Some will choose to stay in the universe obsolete and naive of the television series ” stamped mid-century, others will regain the America less clean and less wise of the 1990s. Thus, at the end of a phenomenon of a collision between those who escape the shackles of the fiction, and those who accept it and fit into it.

For the characters of Gary Ross, there are thus at least two possible paths, one leading to the fiction, the other, to an approach which could look like “reality”. But other filmmakers conceive an ending even more pessimistic in their narrative, as is the case for David Cronenberg. In Videodrome, the filmmaker depicts a world gradually invaded by the patterns disturbing and obscene from a tv channel. He, like the protagonist of The Lair of madness, the main character sees here its bearings more and more confused, until the real seems to be entirely devoured by the image, the fantasy and the fiction. As Cronenberg is one of the pioneers of the body horror, the phenomenon fantastic reached as the protagonist in his reason than in his feelings. He therefore saw only one way out of this nightmare, this story unquenchable, of which he is a prisoner : suicide.

Remain in the mind of David Cronenberg , and now consider the case ofeXistenZ, that also questions our relation to images and our perception of reality. The effect of discomfort on which leads the film can be defined as a game story, giving first the form of a palindrome to the story in question, namely, that the final scene is placed in the mirror in the opening, giving therefore the strange impression that by the final/opening bis, the movie will start over again, undergoing a few changes in his story. The stage of the fiction in the fiction (or adventure virtual is experienced by the protagonists) is seems it ended. But this final scene twin brother of the opening scene suggests that another level of reality takes over, now rid of the dead skin of the previous layer of narrative. The new layer of reality might be, in turn, a trompe l’oeil within the fiction. And in this case, it will relinquish its place to a next layer, another simulacrum of reality, etc…ad vitam aeternam ! The time line of this story pull-out can extend to infinity.

To conclude this overview, I suggest you get off at the end of the experimental film, which extends in some way the direction by Cronenberg and Carpenter, in the examples cited above. In developing the loop which is used to form the scenario of Reality, Quentin Dupieux led to the convergence of the trajectories of the characters at the same time he intertwines the different levels of reality. It is not only a question of a character revealing element of fiction on the big screen, as is the case in the Lair of madness. No, at the end of the delirium of Dupieux, fiction and reality have become states combined that are part of one and the same perception of the universe in which the film takes place. Everything is reality ? Everything is fiction ? Difficult to decide on the seen of this snake film that bites the tail. It gives in any case an impression of dream constant. But if the dream never ends, how do we know definitive that this is a dream ? Dizzying, isn’t it ?

Throughout these examples, we could see that beyond the discomfort aroused in the spectator, the end of a story sometimes leads to the home of his protagonists, an awareness of the artificiality of the world in which they live, or their own artificiality. I suggest you to come back more in details on this issue, by extending the theme to other specimens amazing film fantastic. We’ll see you next month for a new folder entitled, “Speeches of the artificial”.



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