Last week we heard shots fired from producer Joel Silver talk about and describe Terry Gilliam's failed adaptation of Watchmen, Alan Moore's acclaimed graphic novel and how it would have been 'A much MUCH better movie' than the version we got from Zack Snyder. Zack and his producing partner/wife Deborah Snyder, responded via Huffington Post this week saying if you read the Gilliam ending 'it's completely insane' and that 'the fans would have been thinking that they were smoking crack.' Zack added that he specifically made the movie to 'save it from the Terry Gilliams of this world.' The Gilliam ending, in a nutshell, saw Ozymandias convincing Doc Manhattan to travel back in time and prevent his own creation.
All too often, endings are synonymous with “letdown”. We all love to complain about how our favorites ended. Do you know why people always grumble about endings? They can only go ONE WAY. You've read or watched a series, you've spent all the time wondering what will happen next - but in an ending there is no next installment. This is how it is. We had to end it somehow and this is how we did it. It's a different dynamic than following a show as it goes. It goes from what could be to what was. Am I cynical enough to think that the publishing/film/TV industry etc. doesn't really care how a series ends, and no author has ever successfully pitched a story "I have a great ending, I just don't know how to start it!"
Over the past few days, I've realized that the issue between these two directors lies in their approach to material: for Gilliam, it's a launching point; for Snyder, it's a blueprint. Neither is better or worse - it's the end results that matter. I sincerely doubt that Watchmen would have benefitted from random flights of fancy and a director who openly despises what "superheroes" can be in a story. Snyder was able to capture a distinct look and a feel, but unable to find the "human" in a tale of supposed super humans during the film's third act (oh, and he had no idea what to do with Silk Spectre II). The end was only the beginning of the problems for both these filmmakers.
Any ending that foreshadows a future is worthless. End the movie where the story ends, or make a different movie. Implying that Nite Owl and Silk Spectre live happily ever after in a reborn New York is pales in comparison to the ambiguity of Seymour's hand reaching for Rorschach's journal. The shot of the journal is the real ending, not anything that Veidt does (in the book or the movie) Veidt didn't end the arc; Rorschach did.
The ending is the last impression that you get from the work. Some works only exist to get to the ending, and others are more thoughtful in the journey. It's all in how it's structured. Is the story there only to get to the ending and it's just two hour filler, or is it a complete campaign with a beginning, middle and end, each satisfying in its own right. A story is like an essay - the whole thing is just evidence in support of the "argument" or "lesson" the storyteller wants to make at the end. If a movie has an ending that doesn't follow from what happened at the beginning, it's completely unfulfilling, like leaving a sentence
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