Cinematic Cuts

Theorizing Film Endings

Edited by Sheila Kunkle

Subjects: Film Studies, Psychoanalysis, Philosophy, Feminist
Series: SUNY series, Insinuations: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, Literature
Paperback : 9781438461366, 304 pages, July 2017
Hardcover : 9781438461373, 304 pages, July 2016

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Table of contents


Introduction: On the Subject of Endings
Sheila Kunkle

1. Resolution, Truncation, Glitch 19
Hugh S. Manon

2. The Banality of Trauma: Claire Denis’s Bastards and the Anti-Ending
Hilary Neroni

3. The Greatest Trick the Devil Ever Played: Desire, Drive, and the Twist Ending
Ryan Engley

4. Retroactive Rupture: The Place of the Subject in Jane Campion’s In the Cut
Fabio Vighi

5. Love, Loss, Endings, and Beginnings: A Psychoanalysis of Rust and Bone
Juan Pablo Lucchelli

6. Cinematic Ends: The Ties that Unbind in Claire Denis’s White Material
Jennifer Friedlander

7. When One Becomes Two: The Ending of Catfish
Rex Butler

8. The Satisfaction of an Ending
Todd McGowan

9. The Too Realistic Cut: Gaze as Overconformity in Blue Velvet
Henry Krips

10. The End of Fantasy as We Know It: Her and the Vanishing Mediator of the Voice in Film
Sheila Kunkle

11. Melancholia, an Alternative to the End of the World: A Reading of Lars von Trier’s Film
David Denny

12. Cut or Time and American Cinema of Thought-Affect: Cuts of Failure in John Huston’s Fat City
A. Kiarina Kordela

13. The End of (Self) Analysis: The End of Kurosawa’s High and Low
Brian Wall

14. The Final Failure in The Dark Knight Rises
Slavoj Žižek

15. The [“End”]
jan jagodzinski


Explores the philosophical, literary, and psychoanalytic significance of film endings.


Editing has been called the language of cinema, and thus a film's ending can be considered the final punctuation mark of this language, framing everything that came before and offering the key to both our interpretation and our enjoyment of a film. In Cinematic Cuts, scholars explore the philosophical, literary, and psychoanalytic significance of film endings, analyzing how film endings engage our fantasies of cheating death, finding true love, or determining the meaning of life. They examine how endings offer various forms of enjoyment for the spectator, from the momentary fulfillment of desire in the happy ending to the pleasurable torment of an indeterminate ending. The contributors also consider how film endings open onto larger questions relating to endings in our time. They suggest how a film ending's hidden counternarrative can be read as a political act, how our interpretation of a film ending parallels the end of a psychoanalytical session, how film endings reveal our anxieties and fears, and how cinema itself might end with the increasing intervention of digital technologies that reorient the spectator's sense of temporality and closure. Films by Akira Kurosawa, Lars von Trier, Joon-Hwan Jang, Claire Denis, Christopher Nolan, Jane Campion, John Huston, and Spike Jonze, among others, are discussed.

Sheila Kunkle is Associate Professor of Individualized Studies at Metropolitan State University and the coeditor (with Todd McGowan) of Lacan and Contemporary Film.