FOR OR AGAINST THE SAD ENDING?

February 18, 2013

Some people refuse to read a novel with a sad ending. These people regard films the same way. These people, therefore, must step aside as the classics coming marching through, old and new.

Anna Karenina threw herself under the train.  Emma Bovary took poison. Tess D’Urberville was hanged.

The ending of “Casablanca” is not satisfying to some viewers.

Last night I saw an old class film on TV, “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.”

Elia Kazan directed it when he was 36 years old. This film, based on the author Betty Smith’s autobiography, was very very sad. It rushed straight to the heart and held on. Then came the ending. It was happy and the characters looked toward a new day.  It occurred to me that this happy ending could have been tacked on and was not part of the original story. The ending was just too good to be true.  Nevertheless, the ending succeeded in satisfying the public who cannot handle a sad ending.

The ending of the novel The Provider is most satisfactory, that is to say, it is not contrived. It does not cheat the reader of the full impact possible.

I believe that if Elia Kazan had been in his maturity as a director, he would have altered the ending of “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” and kept to the heavy weight of reality, hence making the film a great classic.