Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

The best closing shots in film

with 7 comments

Warning: Visual spoilers follow. Cover your eyes!

As I’ve noted before, the last line of a novel is almost always of interest, but the last line of a movie generally isn’t. It isn’t hard to understand why: movies are primarily a visual medium, after all, and there’s a sense in which even the most brilliant dialogue can often seem beside the point. And as much the writer in me wants to believe otherwise, audiences don’t go to the movies to listen to words: they go to look at pictures.

Perhaps inevitably, then, there are significantly more great closing shots in film than there are great curtain lines. Indeed, the last shot of nearly every great film is memorable, so the list of finalists can easily expand into the dozens. Here, though, in no particular order, are twelve of my favorites. Click or mouse over for the titles:

7 Responses

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  1. For my money, abayo!


    January 13, 2011 at 8:34 am

  2. The ending of 2001 is one of the most bizarre things I’ve I’ve seen in film (or anywhere actually)

    I haven’t watched Vertigo.. really need to check that out…


    January 13, 2011 at 8:48 am

  3. Drew: Kurosawa probably has more great closing images than any other director. Ikiru and Throne of Blood also come to mind.

    Ipodman: Vertigo is amazing. Almost everything I’ve ever written has been influenced by it to some degree. (And 2001 is hugely important to me as well. Among other things, it also has one of the best opening shots of all time.)


    January 13, 2011 at 8:59 am

  4. You mean the black screen? o.O


    January 13, 2011 at 6:10 pm

  5. Kubrick probably did a hundred takes of that black screen. (And he still wasn’t sure if he got it right…)


    January 13, 2011 at 6:40 pm

  6. The Departed: Bah! Maybe you draw a distinction between closing shots and endings, but for me Infernal Affairs’ (original) ending is far superior to The Departed’s.

    [catching up on old blog posts]


    January 21, 2011 at 9:30 pm

  7. The ending of Infernal Affairs is great, but I really love how abruptly The Departed ends. Full stop. As De Niro says in Casino: “That’s that.” Plus a rat.


    January 21, 2011 at 9:47 pm

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