This is one blog, I debated for a long time, with myself, should I write or not? What good will come out of it, if one writes only about the last scene in a movie. People who had watched already, know about it, and for the ones who have not, it is not a just spoiler alert, but it will probably ruin their interest in watching the movie ever. But then, I decided to go ahead for a simple reason. The blog is not about the final act and the ending, but the valuable lessons these scenes convey and I should share them with young readers.
The first movie with a great ending I watched, was from a Tamil movie ‘Avargal’ (Them). Till then, I always watched those kind of endings, we all know happen in movies. The hero fights with villain who has imprisoned his wife (or lover), parents, sister-in-law and the pet dog. After a long fight, hero defeats him, destroys his gang, frees all the prisoners and the police promptly arrives to put handcuffs.
The second type is rich boy/poor girl or rich girl/poor boy romance; after about three hours of fighting with parents and other relatives they finally marry.
There is nothing to remember or recall from these movies.
I watched ‘Avargal, (1977)’ when I was in my teens. It is perhaps the finest effort from K. Balachander. The movie had an ending which was unusual, at least in that era. I remember the final scene more for Kamal Hassan’s acting than anything else. To me, this was his best performance. The movie was about an independent woman (Indian film heroines had only tow roles, either to prance around heroes when they are young, or be an obedient wife). The heroine in the movie has a failed affair, a cruel husband from whom she gets a divorce (a rarity again). And Kamal Hassan has a one side love towards her.
In the final act, the heroine leaves Chennai for Thiruvananthapuram; Kamal helps her to pack and bids adieu at the station. He portrays a Tamilian from Palakkad (speaks a Malayalam mixed Tamil), and is a ventriloquist. I consider his portrayal here to be far superior to the one in Sadma/Moonram Pirai and definitely way above Nayakan, which has a bit, if not a lot of overacting. You can watch it here. I have provided subtitles.
Please click the link above to watch the scene with subtitles. You can watch it here without subtitle.
Avargal 1977 – Final Scene. Watch it for Kamal Hassan’s Acting.
A Time to Kill 1996 has a great ending. Matthew McConaughey’s acting, a subdued performance is a joy to watch. The last sentence of the defense’s argument will be etched in memory forever. I am giving it a go for only one reason, it’s a sensitive subject. I recommend the movie and the novel.
Let’s get back to endings which I think, have great lessons. The first is one is Rob Reiner’s ‘A Few Good Men – 1992.’ Two marines, Lance Corporal Harold Dawson and Private First Class Louden Downey are facing a court martial on charges of killing a fellow marine – William Santiago. The investigator, JoAnne Galloway (Demi Moore) suspects the marines had carried out ‘Code Red’ an out of book punishment. But the marines are provided with junior lawyers, the lead among them, Daniel Kaffee (portrayed by Tom Cruise). The only person who could save the marines commits suicide and the lawyer knows he has lost the case. Finally he decides to bring in Colonel Jessop as witness, fully realizing, if he fails to pull this off, he will be held in contempt of court that would end his career.
Kaffee, realizes the only way to make the Colonel accept that code red was indeed issued is, by provoking the colonel (portrayed by Jack Nicholson) and Colonel promptly gets provoked. Who else can play the role of a decorated General except Nicholson? His performance is just amazing. Though exaggerated, we understand the lawyers will dig deep for justice. Please watch the three time Oscar winner’s performance here:
‘You Can’t Handle the Truth.’ Incredible Jack Nicholson Performance.
The marines are acquitted after the General accepts issuing the ‘Code Red.’ But the marines are dishonorably discharged from the army. Louden Downey asks his fellow marine, “He had accepted issuing code red. What did we do wrong? Why are we getting a dishonorable discharge?” Harold Dawson replies, “As marines we are supposed to protect people who can’t defend themselves. We were supposed to protect William Santiago and we did not.”
There is a lesson here and it is just not for Marines. Everyone one of us, should, in whatever way we can, protect people who can’t defend themselves. It can be moral, physical or legal support. We should stand up. Great learning.
The final one is from ‘Scent of a Woman 1992.’ Charlie Sims (Chris O’Donnell) is a student of Baird school, an exclusive private school. He is not from a rich background, but gets in there on a scholarship. He accepts a caretaker job over a Thanksgiving weekend to earn money for a flight home during Christmas. The caretaker job unfortunately involves taking care of a retired army Colonel, Frank Slade (Al Pacino) who is cantankerous, blind and an alcoholic. They go to New York where Slade meets his family and insults everyone. He tries to commit suicide (his original plan) but Charlie Sims shows extraordinary character and saves the Colonel. In between the Colonel drives a Ferrari, Tango dances with a beautiful lady and drinks buckets full of Whiskey.
As they return home, Charlie Sims explains his dilemma. Some students set up a prank & humiliated the Head Master Mr. Trask. Sims and one more student George are witnesses. Mr. Trask offers a Sims a letter of recommendation which will guarantee him admission to Harvard if he identifies the students who pulled off the prank. Colonel Slade advises Sims to rant about the students or George will. Sims is not convinced. Colonel Slade arrives at the enquiry where Sims was told, he would be disbarred since he has not spoken the truth. Colonel Slade stands up to defend Sims and delivers a speech which wins Sims a reprieve and Al Pacino, an Oscar. His portrayal of a blind person is beyond description.
What’s the lesson here? The Colonel explains, “At every situation in life, I knew what was the correct decision, but I never took it. But look at Charlie, he is at crossroads of his life. But he has taken a decision, which will debar him from the school but he is sticking with it. He is not going to rant about the fellow student, hallmark of leadership. That I call gentlemen, is integrity.” Watch it here:
Scent of a Woman – Al Pacino at his best.
We have all chosen convenient decisions in our life over right decisions. But this young man has inspired us, going forward, we should try hard to take the right decision.
The movie ends positively not just for Sims. There is an indication of a possible relationship and redemption for the suicide prone colonel. He impresses a teacher by identifying the perfume she is wearing, Fluers de Rocaille (Flowers from a bloom). As they leave, Slade tells Sim, ‘Five Seven, Auburn Hair, Beautiful brown eyes..