The Sound of Music is still one of my favorite movies. I understand it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but starting with that iconic opening scene to nuns stealing engine parts, there’s just so much to love. When I first encountered the 1965 musical drama, I identified with Marta and hoped one day I would be like Liesl. I adored Maria, despised The Baroness–now one of my favorites–and was utterly heartbroken by Rolf’s betrayal. And, of course, there was the good night song and that glass of champagne. I inhale the moment Captain von Trapp tears the Nazi flag and don’t exhale until I know the family is safely hiking up the Alps toward Switzerland. I think one of the reasons I love this ending is that it touches on two themes Alexia and Tracee bring up (read on): not everything is perfect and there is hope.
When I asked my fellow Miss Demeanors what their favorite farewell scenes were, this is what they had to say:
Connie: Well, the first one that comes to mind is the iconic farewell scene in Casablanca. Who can forget the look in Ingrid Bergmann’s eyes or Humphrey Bogart’s gravelly voice? A perfect ending to a film about war because lives are disrupted and sacrifices made.
Susan: Dang, this is a tough one because I thought of Casablanca too. Then I thought of the ending of An Unmarried Woman, which I last saw 30 years ago. If I remember right, Alan Bates, possibly the sexiest man alive, at that time, wants Jill Clayburgh to move in with him but she says no because she’s learned to value her independence and she goes off carrying that painting. I didn’t understand it 30 years ago, but I’ve come to appreciate it since. I would also mention the ending of Tale of Two Cities, which I guess is Sydney Carton’s farewell to the world: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”
Paula: Well, all those life stories where they don’t end up together: Casablanca, The Way We Were, Annie Hall, My Best Friend’s Wedding, (500) Days of Summer, Shakespeare in Love, La La Land …
Cate: Loved the ending of La La Land. One of my favorites is the ending of Tuesdays with Morrie. I know, personally, it’s easier as people get closer to death to spend less time with them, to distance myself and instead focus on everything I have to do and accomplish—all the people who need me to do something for them. Now, as my grandmothers get closer to that stage, it’s a reminder to spend time with the people who have done something for me and to remember that those who have lived often have the best advice.
I also just think the language is beautiful. “Death ends a life, not a relationship.”
I should add this too: “ The last class of my old professor’s life took place once a week, in his home, by a window in his study where he could watch a small hibiscus plant shed its pink flowers. The class met on Tuesdays. No books were required. The subject was the meaning of life. It was taught from experience.The teaching goes on.” The ending echoes the beginning of the book, subtly suggesting that life is cyclical and that we all have the same experience of living even though our individual stories are different. I love it. I live the simplicity of the sentences, the few details Mitch Album chooses to include in order to evoke something bigger.
Robin: The first scene that came to mind was from the first “grown up” movie I saw at a theater. My parents took me to see Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid when I was 8, probably too young, but it remains one of my favorite movies of all time. It was the first time I saw a movie that didn’t have a happy ending. I was shocked – that “bad guys” could be the heroes in a story, and that stories could have unhappy endings but still be satisfying.
Tracee: Casablanca and La La Land both, which means I like the notion of unrequited love. Recently someone told me that they overheard a couple of young women in a book store…. one held Anna Karenina, the other asked what it was about. A quick skim and “it’s about happy families.” Now the end would definitely be a shock with that expectation!
Alexia: I’m not a lover of happily ever after endings. My favorite endings are sad or bittersweet or mysterious. I particularly like endings that involve self-sacrifice for the greater good. I like the end of The Magnificent Seven when Yul Brenner watches the farmers his team has just saved, at great expense to themselves, get on with their lives and he says to Steve McQueen, “We lose. We always lose.” I like the end of Rogue One where the main characters hug each other as their planet explodes, knowing that because of their sacrifice, the Rebellion will survive. I like the end of Casablanca because Rick gives up Ilsa for the good of the Resistance–and because Louis realizes he is one of the good guys after all and he and Rick are back in the fight. I like the end of The Haunting (1963 version) when Theodora realizes Eleanor’s death may not be such a tragedy because Eleanor got what she wanted–to be one with the house. Then Luke says they should burn the house down and salt the earth. I like the end of Thelma and Louise because, in driving off the cliff, the women determine their own fate (and pay homage to Butch and Sundance). I like the ending of the “Eye of the Beholder” episode of The Twilight Zone because it makes us question our standards of beauty and who we consider outcasts. I like the ending of the “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and the “To Serve Man” episodes just because they’re fun twists.
Oh, and the end of The Shining because it’s just twisted.
Thank you, Miss Demeanors, for sharing some of your favorite iconic scenes. And with that, so long and farewell!