The ending (and trying not to spoil it!) made me think about heroes in our movies and culture today. Fifty years ago, the hero was about facing a villain and winning in the end. Happy ending, happy hero, happy movie, happy audience. But today the heroes either don't win, or must sacrifice themselves in order to win. This is a major statement about the world in which we live, and how we feel about this world. Do we feel that we can't surmount our enemies? Or that we must sacrifice ourselves in the fight so that, although we are physically conquered, a future generation might come out on top?
Is there really that much despair in this world? Is hope too far out of our grasp? While we as a society often are a reflection of pop culture, high art is of a reflection of society. To watch a well crafted movie or read a well written book is to stare into the face of humanity in our time. The artist has an uncanny ability to remove himself a slight distance, observe his surroundings, and then point a mirror in the right direction so that we can see ourselves running around in our world from a third person point of view. It can be a stark and eye-opening experience to evaluate high art in such a way; it is like peeling back your body and peering into your soul.
I think the "hero loses" endings were more prevalent in the past decade, and while are sometimes still present, seem to be giving way more to the "hero sacrifice" ending, which seems to say that while we felt there was a time of desperation in the past, we are now seeing a glimmer of hope. While we may not feel that we will be able to enjoy what rises from these ashes, at least we now believe that a good life will emerge once more, somewhere, sometime.
Me? I always want to watch the first 10 minutes of a movie and then just skip to the last 5. I have a yearning for the "inciting incident" never to take place. I watch a movie and see a perfect world and just want everything to stay that way. You see, I don't like hopelessness, even if there is a possibility of a noble sacrifice for hope. I'm longing once more for the hero movies of 50 years ago, when the hero was the hero and the villain the villain and good always triumphs over evil. I'm tired of the jaded look at the present, because I see joy in life. Maybe one day I'll return to my filmmaking career and bring back the conquering hero story.