...but she made me ride it one more time in order to put me in my place.
Okay, now on to the real meat of this post:
I love vague endings.
Not quirky-vague endings (which leave you scratching your head), but intentionally vague endings that enrich the storytelling experience. I love endings which allow us to use everything we know about the characters to determine what happens next. Or, at least, to guess what happens next.
For me, the perfect example of a successfully vague ending occurs in Lost in Translation. If you don’t like this movie, fine. I know there are a whole bunch of you out there. But I love it. Yet I never recommend it without saying, “There’s a really good chance you won’t like it. It’s kind of...vague.”
The movie is made up entirely of little moments. Little looks. Little gestures. Little phrases. And if you watch it without a willingness to appreciate all of its littleness, you’re not gonna like it. But if you fall in love with its littleness, then its vague ending will seem perfect. Because the ending is another little moment…which, this time, we aren’t allowed to fully witness. The ending is a whisper too soft, and too guarded, to comprehend. It’s a moment shared between the two characters, but it’s not meant for our ears.
What? The final line of the movie is never shared with the audience?
That's right. And it's perfect that way! How weird is that!?!?
But then, last week, Eve sent me the following YouTube clip. In it, someone used digital manipulation to decode that whisper. When I first began watching it, I started sweating. Should I continue watching it? Then I started ripping hairs out of my head. Should I continue watching it? Then I started shaking. Should I…?
I watched the whole dang thing.
And I was so mad. I was mad at Eve for throwing me into such inner-turmoil. I was mad at myself for deciding to ruin the magic of that little moment forever. I was mad at the whisper for being so…vague.
That’s it? That’s all Bill whispers into Scarlett’s ear?
And then I was happy. Because the entire movie, even with its revealed secret ending, was still perfectly vague.
Yes, sometimes the perfect ending is one which allows the viewer (or reader!) to decide what happens next…or what just occurred. For example, at the end of my next book, I decided to