Every movie must end in song and dance

Seeing the best musical endings is to convince yourself, even briefly, that all movies should be solved this way.
Photo-Illustration: by Vulture; Photo from Pyramide Distribution

Federico Fellini may not be the obvious point of contact for an ABBA jukebox musical, but the end of Oh my! Here we go again unquestionably owes something to . Hear Me Out: Fellini’s 1963 masterpiece concludes with all of its layers of reality, memory, and fantasy collapsing into a circus, with everyone from its main character past and present, including his childhood self, pouring into a ring circus and joining hands for a sunny and messy ride. the Oh my! The sequel closes with the last of its many musical numbers, one that takes place on a stage somewhere outside the confines of space and time where its ensemble, including characters who have died and some younger selves, can come together. for a gaily disguised performance. These endings are absolutely one of a kind, opening their respective worlds for an ecstatic and impossible musical number. However, it is true that only one of them involves Cher releasing a version of “Super Trouper”.

Musical sequences are one of those things that cinema seems to have been invented to show, along with explosions, hot people, and trains creeping onto the screen. They’re the perfect way to end a movie, except when they’re hackneyed and cynical, which they often are. Still, to see the best musical endings is to convince yourself, even briefly, that each movie must end with a song and / or dance. In reality, it is not as limited an option as it might seem. For all the distance between Oh my! two Y , there is infinitely more room for variation between musical culminating moments that unfold within the reach of a fictional universe and those that come from outside it. Some films build their use of music toward a powerful ending, and others include it only as a coda. Sometimes that’s even better: as a show, musical numbers are capable of a purity that makes them even spicier outside of the genre they’re best known for.

Wear The last days of the disco, which is dedicated to the little dramas and minor put-downs endured by a group of twentysomethings in the early eighties. It ends with Matt Keeslar playing a bit for a Chloë Sevigny giggling on the subway, as if the two of them could hear the O’Jays’ “Love Train” playing on the soundtrack, while in true New York fashion, nobody otherwise, pay attention to them. But then there is a cut and magically everyone in the car starts dancing, and also on the platform, and it’s so joyous. Or consider the vertigo of “Always look for the bright side of life” at the end of Brian’s life. The main character, played by Graham Chapman, is among those crucified after multiple rescue attempts have resulted in nothing. The song is written with lush irony, everyone joining in an ode to keep their upper lip stiff as they await a painful death, but it’s also just plain lush, the dark context makes the song’s irresistible nature even better, the figures on screen they try whatever minimal choreography they can handle while tied to the crosses.

The moment when the established reality of a movie opens up and gives way to something grander or more stylized can be electric. However, you don’t always need that break. Mads Mikkelsen’s cathartic closing dance at Another round it is perfect because He exists in the universe, with his character, a depressed teacher, who draws on the jazz-ballet lessons of his youth for a celebratory dropout sequence as his friends and students watch him in delight. Robert Altman Nashville is a diegetic musical that arranges for most of its characters to cross paths at a gala concert that is interrupted by a gunfight, and what follows – Henry Gibson pleading with the crowd to sing, Barbara Harris handed the microphone – is a sharp satire act of joining in a song, summoning the other side of the feeling at the end Brian’s life. The dance between Julia Roberts and Rupert Everett at the end of My best friend’s Wedding manages to deliver some standard rom-com fade without being rom-com standard at all, brimming with bittersweet satisfaction while subverting expectations of the genre.

Some of the best musical endings are somewhere between the real and the unreal world. By Bong Joon Ho Mother It starts off with an absurd dance number, with Kim Hye-ja giving a deadpan performance alone in a field as the credits roll. The movie responds to this opening scene with an ending that takes place within the world of the story, and that’s just brutal in its implication of maternal ties as this monstrous burden, its heroine trying to get away from what he’s learned about her and the child. what she has dedicated her life to. Meanwhile, Claire Denis’ sublime conclusion Beau travail it is a scene that could be a fantasy or a flashback, or the death dream of a man in the process of suicide. It’s part of the movie and yet it’s untethered, with the French Foreign Legion soldier played by Denis Lavant alone in a mirrored nightclub, throwing himself to the beat of “The Rhythm of the Night.” His character, so locked in for much of the runtime, and so seemingly disconnected from his own desires, suddenly seems liberated, and yet the sequence carries with it tremendous sadness.

The way it departs from the rest of the film, and yet remains so central to it, underscores the power of a musical number to convey emotions that cannot be articulated in direct scenes. There is more there in Beau travailIt is an ambiguous but intensely eloquent ending, which can be put into words. It’s an effect worth remembering, especially in the face of all the added endings so far not mentioned here, the kind where the Minions dance to the “YMCA,” the characters from the Shrek movies that boil down to “I’m a Believer” (twice!) and “Livin ‘la Vida Loca”, and add up to a playlist worthy of a wedding reception in hell. They are worth enduring for the unmatched satisfaction that comes with an earned musical ending. At the end of She delightedBefore the movie comes out with all of its characters singing a deeply unnecessary rendition of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart,” Eric Idle informs the camera that “you can’t go wrong if you follow your heart and end with a song.” You can, but Idle put it better in 1979 when, tied to a cross, he sang, “Forget your sin, give the audience a smile, enjoy it, it’s your last chance anyway.”

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