5 Great Film Endings In Cinema History

film endings

In my last editorial, I discussed some of cinema’s best movie introductions, stating the importance of why a movie should rope you in and keep you firmly fixed in your seat. But film endings are equally important! I cannot count how many times I have sat through what I like to call “throw away” endings, ones in which come across lazy just to tie up the feature because the filmmakers seemingly ran out of ideas after showing their best ones already. But it makes one feel good when a lot of thought has been put into a script, especially when it translates well on screen. And a big part of that is giving the audience a big pay in which they will walk away from the movie and remember it for.

Below are five film endings that I think are just a small portion of ones in which really deliver.

film endings

‘Se7en’ (1995)

I have noticed that the conclusion is really mostly the only thing that people mention when talking about ‘Se7en’. Don’t get me wrong, that is for a good reason. But the slow pace during the first two hours really needed to lead to something really memorable. And it surely did that job! Kevin Spacey did not want his name mentioned listed in the beginning credits for fear of ruining his surprise appearance during the final act, although his his name is listed twice when the end credits eventually roll.

The ending of ‘Se7en’ that we got almost never happened, either! There were several planned endings including one in which a lot of action was involved which would have swiftly altered the mood and most likely would have ended the film in a more cheerful fashion. Good thing that David Fincher  apparently put his foot down, creating a classic ending. A cliche conclusion simply would not have cut it with this film!

film endings

The Shawshank Redemption‘ (1994)

The Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman drama classic ‘The Shawshank Redemption‘ is one of the main feel good movies of the mid 1990’s. Frustratingly, it does leave the viewer wondering about a couple of things, but the sight of that clear blue ocean in the background while Red and his former prison pal, Andy embrace is an image that defines true and complete freedom in life. This particular film ending is a major reason why the movie has managed to stay atop the IMDb Top 250 for such a long time!

film endings

‘The Sixth Sense’ (1999)

While ‘The Sixth Sense’ is not an outright horror movie it is a little surreal to see Bruce Willis, an actor hardly known for much dramatic background in his filmography, be involved in a movie of this genre. An alternative actor with more emotional range probably would have been a little more compatible with this movie’s theme, but it was (then) little Haley Joel Osment that received much attention when ‘The Sixth Sense’ was first released.

When it comes to the ending it might be fair to say that the acting does not hold much relevance. Much like ‘Se7en’, it is one that not many could have anticipated. It was even replicated a couple of times in movies that were released years later, which goes to show how much of an effect it had on popular culture. But unlike David Fincher’s laborious piece, the M. Night Shyamalan standout from 1999 contains many moments before that work hard enough to keep you entertained before the ultimate whammy arrives!

film endings


‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ (1975)

I have always insisted that Jack Nicholson stayed within a certain comfort zone for the majority of his acting career. And ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ does not really do much to change that opinion. Except for it’s doleful ending. Well, it isn’t totally heart breaking! What is clever was how the filmmakers were able to evoke different emotions in the space of a few seconds as our Oregon Hospital resident, Chief finds the strength within to escape and take charge of his own life.

film endings


‘Psycho’ (1960)

This Janet Leigh anchored picture is possibly Alfred Hitchcock‘s most famous work, ‘Psycho‘. While Leigh’s character taking her final shower is one of cinema’s most famous scenes in history, just as much, if not even more credit should be given to the film’s ending as the horrifying truth is revealed. It is one of them endings that you just never see coming. Unless you had read the Robert Bloch novel before you saw the movie. In which case you probably did yourself a disservice, even if the popular consensus is that the book is better than the movie.

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