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Happy Endings in Hollywood CinemaCliché, Convention and the Final Couple$
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James MacDowell

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748680177

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748680177.001.0001

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Happy endings and closure

Happy endings and closure

(p.57) Chapter 2 Happy endings and closure
Happy Endings in Hollywood Cinema

James MacDowell

Edinburgh University Press

It is very common for scholars to treat the ‘happy ending’ as inseparable from definitive narrative closure. Chapter 2 looks in detail at this association by examining the degrees of closure which seem to be offered by different final couple happy endings. A discussion of Sleepless in Seattle (1993) prompts reflections upon the act of ending a film with a romantic beginning - ultimately what the convention of the final couple amounts to. While it is argued that this film succeeds (against what seem considerable odds) in making such an ending feel emphatically ‘closed’, other films (texts covered in detail include The Best Years of Our Lives [1946] and The Graduate [1967]) use different strategies to render the same convention comparatively ‘open’. By examining factors not always accounted for in discussions of closure (for example, point of view, genre, implied continuation, etc.), this chapter also attempts to move the matter of closure and happy endings beyond a simple ‘open’/’closed’ dichotomy and towards a consideration of the different kinds and means of closure available to final couples.

Keywords:   Hollywood cinema, happy ending, closure, narrative, narratology, genre, point of view, romantic comedy, romantic couple

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