In 'Acinema', Lytoard suggests that "all endings are happy endings,
just by being endings, for even if a film finishes with a murder, this
too can serve a final resolution of dissonance."
Just as a piece of music can feel right when it arrives at its
ending, so can a film, even if its content is not patently 'happy'. In
recent semesters, I have discussed Lyotard's comments in relation to
'Dog Day Afternoon', and it is surprising how many people find that
its apparently tragic finale nevertheless is an appropriate, fitting,
possibly even happy ending.
It seems to me that the relative happiness of an ending, or any other
part of a film, will always be an undecideable. The more interesting
question is whether the ending provides a sense of conclusiveness,
inevitability, fittingness or fate (in terms of narrative, pace, mood,
ethics, voice, etc.). Once this question is addressed, aesthetic and
political issues about the normative implications of a given film can
be properly addressed.
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