Hal Ashby’s Endings

A video essay from December 2015.

Of the 11 feature films that Hal Ashby directed, 9 end with one or more of the main characters’ back to the camera. His final film ends with the main characters walking towards the camera. Despite the seeming stylistic congruity of these endings, each one develops organically from the film’s script, endowing each with its own tone and mood. Additionally, each ending’s cinematography exhibits visual themes that have occurred throughout the film. Thus, the endings, while being distinctive visual hallmarks of Ashby’s filmmaking, also work as examples of multiple-authorship in subtle, intriguing ways.

(Note: ‘Coming Home’ actually ends with three intercut segments. For the purposes of this video essay, the ending has been edited to include only the Bruce Dern ocean segment.)

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