Spoiler Alert. The post contains spoilers about the following movies: (And there are aff. links in the post.)
- Strange Days (1995)
- The Broken Circke Breakdown (2012)
- Braveheart (1995)
- The Man without a Face (1992)
- The Crow (1994)
Black Mirror is a great show, make no mistake. It’s engrossing; you can’t take your eyes from it. The quality of production is top-notch, and the stories show how technology often takes our flaws, obsessions or inhumane qualities one step further. So each episode tends to be extremely depressing. Ergo, it is not for me.
I need a bit of light in things that I watch. One of my favorite movies is Strange Days from 1995, which is not a happy movie in general. It takes place in a brutal 1999 where a technology allows people to get high on other people’s experiences. Since you feel everything yourself, it has turned into the most addictive drug. And it’s illegal. Disenchanted ex cop Lenny (Ralph Fiennes) makes a living selling these tapes, and people either go for the overly violent or sexual. He is obsessed with his ex girlfriend, hooker Faith (Juliette Lewis), and his only friend is Mace (Angela Bassett), who is a kickass limo driver that often has to save his sorry ass from trouble. With a Los Angeles that is out of control and a serial killer on the loose who is making his victims watch their own killing, it is a dark movie. But it is also a lot of fun, and there is love, action, hope and friendship. And friendship and love win. I can’t recommend the movie enough. I’ve seen it more times than I can count, and I’m looking forward to seeing it again.
One of my least favorite movies is The Broken Circle Breakdown. A friend of mine fell in love with this movie, and even though I loved some parts of it, it depressed me so badly, I was swearing at the writers at some point. I’m not saying the movie isn’t good. It’s just so emotionally raw that you feel like you have a big hole in your soul, just like the characters do. And I don’t like to feel depressed. I suffered from depression, my dear readers, and I’m not good with characters who don’t try to deal with it. And by deal with it, I mean actual therapy! You can’t just fix yourself after losing your child! And these are freaking musicians from a well-developed country. I’m pretty sure they could have found the means from their government (Belgian!) OK, I’m calm, now. J
They destroy each other with their pain. They grow distant instead of supporting each other. Go ahead and watch the movie, and let me know if you left the movie with joy.
Surprise, surprise, I hate unhappy endings. Sure, you might say, your favorite movie Braveheart has the protagonist dying after being betrayed by his closest ally. Yeah, but he also impregnated a princess that seemed determined to take over the kingdom and that betraying ally decided to win the war in his honor. So sure, he died, but nothing he did was in vain. And while he was alive, what a life that was!
The Man without a Face showed McCloud (Mel Gibson), whose face is so badly burned that he is referred as a freak, being excluded, judged and blamed, but he turned Norstadt (Nick Stahl) into an achiever. He gave him a father figure. He gave him an excellent mentor, teacher and best friend. And the end? The end is at the very least semi-happy.
The Crow has Draven (Brandon Lee) take his revenge, make peace with Sarah, die happily to be with his dead love of his life forever. Happy! He was already dead when the movie began, so I wasn’t exactly sad when he went back to his grave.
My point? Don’t give me a love story where the couple loses a kid, and one of them dies. Thank you!
Maybe this is why I tend to write romantic comedies and dramas. This is why I rarely kill off a character. There have been no villains in my stories so far. Maybe jackasses and assholes, but that’s about it.
I’ve killed two characters in a total of five screenplays (three finished, two in the works): One was dead practically before the story began; his death was the catalyst for three characters’ actions, and the other was a supporting character whose death, while tragic, was necessary for one character’ growth. And while my characters go through a lot dealing with these deaths, it doesn’t define them. It doesn’t take my story into a direction so bleak that my viewer/reader will get depressed alongside them. Feel sad? Yes. Desolate? No.
It would probably come as no surprise to you that I love reading John Grisham and Lee Child. The main character almost always lives. They might not always get a happy ending, but the stories give me enough adrenaline and serotonin that I don’t mind (a lot).
I’m not saying I won’t ever kill off many characters. I’m not saying I won’t ever write a thriller or action movie. I’ve been dreaming of finding brilliant thriller premises ever since I was a kid. But I haven’t found the right idea. Yet.
Here’s the thing: Life is full of pain, death and destruction. It is also filled with love, happiness and hope. I don’t need to be reminded of the first that often. News, politics and our own lives provide enough of that. On the other hand, I don’t mind overdosing on the positive stuff.
How do you like your endings?