Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Do the twist

I was talking to my brother the other day about Life on Mars. We'd both really enjoyed it but thought that it copped out at the ending. I felt short changed, probably because the series was so well done and it was such a good idea in the first place, it deserved a better ending. It didn't come up in the conversation but the same is true about The Prisoner, though in that case it's slightly more forgivable as I think I read that Patrick McGoohan was only given a few days notice to write the final episode. Even so you'd think he'd have been giving the matter some thought. The ending is less coherent than Life on Mars but there was an inevitability about him being Number One, so was it all about him trying to work out his motivation himself? Had he had a nervous breakdown?

With Life on Mars I started trying to think of good endings: on his return to the future Sam should have encountered some of his 1973 colleagues. Dozy Chris would have been a chief constable (because he was taking in all the advice you see) and er.. that's as far as I got with my brilliant ideas.

I realised that there was only one thing, in my opinion, that actually comes up with the goods ending-wise and that is Planet of the Apes. I can't think of any other film that so completely and so satisfyingly pulls the rug out from under you. And all the effects, sets and costumes are spot on as well. I suppose the revelation at the end of The Empire Strikes Back is a bit of a jolt and La jetee comes close but neither change the story in the same way as Charlton's walk along the beach.


  1. You are so bloody right. I just got a shiver right now thinking about that ending.

    Read any Philip K. Dick? He's good at those too...

  2. ...Twisting endings, I mean.

  3. Morning Davy,

    I've only read "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?" when I was a kid, before I'd actually got round to watching Bladerunner. The film doesn't seem that complicated in comparison and I started "Clans of the Alphane Moons" but couldn't get into it. I never see any of his stuff in second hand bookshops - I should try the library.

  4. 'Time Out Of Joint' (quite early) and 'Ubik' (later) both have mother-of-all-twist endings, but watch out for spoilers in online reviews...!