As one of the results of the Great Marketing Machine that is Hollywood, many films that are released are released in a different edit or form than they were originally conceived or even originally screened. Screenings for the public allow fillmakers and studio execs to fine-tune their product for maximum acceptance, even if it means 'blanding' down the film. However, not all film scenes that are cut are simply filler or tonal scenes - one of the most frequent major changes is the ending of the film. This would seem counterintuitive, in that the ending is the most integral piece to the story; however, time and again we have seen that when story (or art) and marketing clash, marketing wins bloodily.

It should also be noted that some ending changes are made by the directors themselves as the result of poor audience response or comprehension. However, for whatever reason, 'cut' endings are a source of interest to me, since they actually allow a broader look at the goals of the director. One great feature of the DVD is that it allows 'extra material' to be placed in the package along with the film for no extra money, and even better is that DVD releases are competing with each other to see whcih can provide the most 'interesting' extra footage. Naturally, alternate endings are a favorite inclusion, although by no means do all alternate endings end up on the DVD!

I propose this node to chronicle The Endings That Never Were. If you know of an alternate ending to a popular movie that was planned, or better yet shot and cut later, add a writeup here! I"ll start the ball rolling with a couple...oh, yes, WARNING: Spoilers abound in this sort of thing, so DON'T LOOK if you're worried!

Terminator 2: Judgement Day

T2 ended, in the theater release, with the image of a highway at night from a moving car, with the lane markers keeping rhythm as they pass beneath the camera. Sarah Connor narrates, explaining that now the future isn't set, and that Skynet and the terminators probably would not come to be. In the original ending, however, which was aired on television for a 'geewhiz' Hollywood special, we see Sarah Connor and her son John many years later, sitting in the playground which Sarah saw incinerated in her dreams. John, an adult, is swinging his own toddler son while a radio talks about his running for Senate. Sarah reminisces about what almost was. My guess for the reason this was cut is that it is unnecessarily explanatory; better if our imaginations take Sarah and John into the future. Besides, it cut off any possible further sequel potential. :-)

Full Metal Jacket

Full Metal Jacket ends with Pvt. Joker and the troops surrounding the dying sniper, a female Vietnamese child. She begs them to kill her, as she's horribly wounded anyway. No one responds, until Joker raises a pistol and fires, silencing her cries. His 'Flower Power' emblem, visible on him almost always, is obscured by the raised pistol. The next and final scene has the Marines marching down towards the Perfume River at night, singing the theme to "The MIckey Mouse Club" in a fairly jarring contradiction. In the original cut, however, as the troops are standing around the wounded sniper, no-one will move to end her pain as they've all suffered at her hands; finally, however, Joker performs the coup de grace with his pistol. Immediately thereafter, however, he 'loses it' and throws himself on the corpse, mutilating it with his knife and hands, until the other Marines pull him off, where he stands spattered with blood and breathing hard. The implication is that Joker, the last uncorrupted man in Vietnam, has finally succumbed to the horror, and is now one of the boys; the marching scene that follows, with its infantile singing, is designed to demonstrate the unity of the troop, secure in their group regression and group bond. Rumor is that audiences were leaving the theater retching, prompting Kubrick to tone down the ending. I believe, however, that unpalatable as it might have been, the original ending would have been much more powerful, and changed the film from a picture of the pointlessness of war to a picture of the ultimately corrupting nature of war, and its effect on human behavior and morals.