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DominicX's avatar

What is your opinion on unresolved/unexplained plots?

Asked by DominicX (28762points) January 17th, 2011

Do you like movies and books with plots that are open to interpretation? Movies and books that end unresolved with many possible explanations and answers?

I just watched the movie Mulholland Drive and I have to say, it’s one of the greatest movies I’ve ever seen. It’s so great that I will be watching it again tonight with several of my roommates.

But I know that some people don’t like movies that seem full of non-sequiturs and bizarre plot elements that add to the mysteriousness of it. While I don’t find Mulholland Drive to be confusing and I do feel I understand it, I also understand that David Lynch certainly intended for viewers to interpret the movie in a variety of ways.

I do not mind this as long as the writer has some idea of what they are doing. “Making it up as they go along” is a grave offense…there should be some idea of a “big picture” even if the viewers/readers are never fully exposed to it.

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20 Answers

nikipedia's avatar

I’ve hated them ever since reading The Giver in sixth grade. It feels to me like the writer couldn’t commit to a specific ending and just gave up.

963chris's avatar

i like ambiguity + things left for interpretation such any most of the stuff by lynch + some of the works by gilliam. i think there is a certain degree of conscious non-disclosure of what the film means BUT i also think there is a lot to be left open for interpretation + discovery (similar to a dream). lynch’s interviews + writings would point to this. a lot of it may boil down to the question ‘what is an author’ + does s/he have to have the complete text in one’s hand in order to be legitimate.

i really dig lost highway + how that jumps around – then right in the middle it’s like ‘whoa, what just happened’. i have also noticed that a lot of japanese directors (esp suspense + horror) don’t spell things out visually or narratively + that things can turn on a dime sometimes.

syz's avatar

I hate them.

963chris's avatar

the same can be said on a literary front of course. there are those that desire closure + completeness of plot in the traditional sense + others who dig joyce, burroughs, ee cummings, etc.

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starboyg's avatar

I equate it to when musicians have their music fade out. Most of the time, it’s just them being lazy and not wanting to end the song. Open endings can be fine, as long as the open ended nature serves the music/story, and not the laziness of the writer.

Joker94's avatar

I’m okay with ambiguity, so long as it fits with the story. However, sometimes it can totally knock the movie down a notch (here’s looking at you, No Country for Old Men…)

shpadoinkle_sue's avatar

I’m okay with it to an extent, like most everyone else I suppose. I personally need little hints to help me think in a specific direction, though. I saw Cache when I came out and that was wonderful. The ending left it wide open to interpretation but I knew what I had to guess for myself, if that makes sense.
Some films drive me bonkers when it just stops, black screen, credit with no explination. You can’t write everything off as being artsy when you can’t figure out an ending. I guess my question to your question would be is it worse to have a crappy ending than to have no ending at all.

cockswain's avatar

@DominicX You understood Mulholland Drive? I did not. Everything made sense until the lesbian scene, then wham…nothing made sense after that.

I am generally not a fan of the vague or ambiguous ending. Tell the story, give it a good solid ending. Don’t think I’m so fascinated by your movie that I’ve got the time and interest to watch it two or more times to develop my “interpretation” of what you are saying.

Donnie Darko is a great example of this. I watched that movie and was like “huh”? Then I saw the extras on the DVD that supposedly explain the multi-dimensional timeline that there was basically zero chance I (or anyone) had of figuring it out.

Some people I know love to contemplate these vague endings to the nth degree. As though every director that produces such a movie is naturally a tremendous genius who intentionally put in all kinds of sophisticated symbolism and literary references.

People used to over-analyze The Beatles. Even when they said “no, that isn’t what we meant,” it didn’t matter.

I think the only meaning art has is what the artist generally intends. If I write a song about picking apples and someone thinks it’s a metaphor for a lost love, they just got it wrong.

963chris's avatar

donnie darko was great; however the directors cut made things clearer than polished glass. felt like i was being spoonfed plot explanation.

cockswain's avatar

Are you kidding? I have to look it up to recall details, but that wasn’t clear at all. Donnie Stankhole is more like it.

Like why was there the big rabbit thing? What were the wavy “destiny” lines or whatever coming out of his chest all about?

cockswain's avatar

Valhalla Rising. Just watched that. Didn’t like it since it made no real point.

963chris's avatar

@cockswain: i dont have the space to address the movie deets now but which version of the film are you referring to? directors cut or stnd? on the rabbit note (frank), why was pennywise a clown in it? whyd she turn into a spider? etc etc…

DominicX's avatar


Don’tcha see? Diane was in love with Camilla in real life but Camilla didn’t return the affection. So in her dream world as Betty, she had a much better relationship with the new Camilla (Rita).

cockswain's avatar

I saw both, and was left unimpressed. Trust me, I was baked off my ass the first time and felt I was supposed to like it since everyone else I knew did. I was even enough of a poser to pretend I did like it. Then I watched the Director’s Cut sober and realized I didn’t like it at all.

I don’t recall Pennywise in it. Wasn’t that a character from “It” by Stephen King? Been a while.

@DominicX So, they just abandon the whole detective portion of the story to suddenly move into a dream and stay there? What is the sense of that? I don’t like loose ends, @DominicX. I don’t like them at all.

cockswain's avatar

Naked Lunch. Give that one a shot and tell me what you think. If you understand that and can explain it, I’ll give you some sort of reward.

963chris's avatar

naked lunch the movie is about burroughs’ conception + creation of the book by the same title (which you might not like either as its non-linear, fragmented + composed of cut-ups in many sections). however 420 does help in the read i noticed.

cockswain's avatar

I gave the book a shot after watching the movie. No amount of weed helped. But with enough weed I don’t understand Cheech and Chong movies either.

gene116's avatar

OK DominicX, I’m renting Mulholland Drive after your rave review. Let’s see if I get it…

Jeruba's avatar

I hate ‘em. I want all the loose ends tied up. That doesn’t mean the author has to spell out all the outcomes; but it should be possible for me to arrive at them by logical extension of what I know. For example, if I see the woman start toward the house at the close of the last scene, I can infer that she has made up her mind to go back after all and try to make it work; but if she’s just left staring into the distance, without a clue one way or the other, I feel cheated—I’ve made a big investment in this book or movie, and there’s no payoff.

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