The Real Meaning Behind These Confusing Movie Endings


"Inception" ended on a dramatic cliffhanger that kept our heads (and the top) spinning. Christopher Nolan himself has said that it's up to us to determine how the film ended, using the film as an example in a commencement speech about chasing your own reality.

The dark knight rises

Is Bruce Wayne still alive? Yes, according to Christian Bale. During an interview several years after the "Dark Knight" trilogy was completed, Bale stated that he thinks Wayne is alive and well, but content to live a life free of the shackles of Gotham City. 

barton fink

The Coen brothers have been making viewers think for decades. Joel Coen says that the beach scene at the end of the movie was never intended to turn the entire second half into a nightmare, and it was only meant to reflect Fink's state of mind.

no country for old men

Another Coen brothers movie that ends abruptly, "No Country for Old Men" ends with the sheriff explaining a pair of dreams to his wife. The second dream is more important, and his father's death at a young age hammers home the title of the film.

donnie darko

Time travel is always a cause for confusion, and "Donnie Darko" is no exception. Basically, Donnie is at the center of a tear in time and space, and most of the film takes place in an alternate universe. 

mulholland drive

One of David Lynch's most abstract works is "Mulholland Drive." Although it sounds like a copout, Roger Ebert proposed the idea that the mystery is nonexistant, and we're simply watching events unfold with no greater meaning than the actions themselves.

The matrix: revolutions

So, Neo gave up? Not exactly, if you view "The Matrix: Revolutions" as a lesson in potential world peace. Essentially, Neo brokered a deal to merge with the entire Matrix and eliminates the corruption of Agent Smith. 

Tree of life

"Tree of Life" threw a lot at us, including the Big Bang, some dinosaurs, and an ending that might be a symbol for Heaven. Religious experts have struggled with an explanation, but some think that it's just a film with imagery to consider when thinking of your own life.

The fountain

Three different stories come together for the wild ending of "The Fountain." Director Darren Aronofsky intentionally made it so that people would make up their minds afterward while having a deep conversation about mortality.


Christopher Nolan loves to blend genres, and he did just that with "Interstellar." This film tells us that time is a circle, and the place Cooper entered was made by people in the future who were saved by his daughter's efforts.

The babadook

"The Babadook" is one giant metaphor for the duration of the film. By the time it's over, we understand that the creature was repressed emotions and guilt that Emilia harbored for years.  The last shot of the movie also tells us that those feelings will never go away.

it follows

There's a constant state of danger present throughout "It Follows." The end of the film is left open, but the director, David Robert Mitchell, took the idea from one of his own nightmares. Basically, be careful who you let into your bed.

vanilla sky

We don't often get to see this side of Tom Cruise's acting, but the remake of a Spanish film told us that most of what we saw took place inside someone's brain. The movie's ending is a big reset button and a conscious choice to do it all over again.

2001: a space odyssey

Stanely Kubrick was a master of keeping audiences guessing, and there's really no one way to define the end of "2001." He believes this movie exists on multiple levels, and the end could be the next evolution of humanity or whatever you want it to be.


Although "Enemy" makes chaos one of its main points, there is order to everything. Director Denis Villenueve tells us that the real enemy comes from within, and Jake Gylennhaal's characters could be copies of the same consciousness.

american psycho

Was it all in his head? That's the question everyone asks at the end of "American Psycho" as Patrick Bateman. However, it doesn't really matter, because the ending makes it clear that he would face no consequences for his actions.

jacob's ladder

There's a fine line between heaven and hell, especially when you're on your deathbed. At the end of the film, Jacob understands that he needs to make peace with his actions, and this makes it easier for him to move on to the afterlife.

The witch

What does mortal life matter if you've already promised your soul? Thomasina might never walk the earth again, but Black Phillip's cult is her new home, and the coven of witches in the woods is her new family.

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The Real Meaning Behind These Confusing Movie Endings