How to end a movie? That is the crucial question. How to reach a finish line, so that the closure will be both emotionally satisfying for viewers and narratively coherent for the filmmakers.
As an industry, Hollywood is notorious for imposing a happy ending, a neat or pat closure that often negates everything that came before it.
Catharsis, euphoria and emotional release were the key words for co-writers Danny Boyle (who also directed) and Simon Beaufoy with the ending of "127 Hours."
In addition to the usual problems of ending, they faced the challenge of adapting to the big screen Aron Ralston's true-life survival story, including the famous scene of the hero cutting off his own arm.
"Every single person that goes into the cinema knows exactly what happens," says Beaufoy, who had earlier collaborated with Boyle on the 2008 Oscar winner "Slumdog Millionaire."
"The trick was to make people forget, get them involved so much in the experience he's going through that they completely forget that, in the end, everything is going to be OK," says Beaufoy. "I genuinely didn't know how to do it," he admits.
He initially turned down the project until he read a draft from Boyle, a first-time screenwriter on the film. "He'd written it visual by visual by visual, like a director would do, and I suddenly understood precisely how he was going to do it, that we were going to be totally inside Aron's head."
For the climactic escape from the canyon, they decided to stay close to the details from Ralston's book. "We wanted to guard against either sensationalizing it too much or making it into a horror film," explains Boyle, "or worse, trivializing it and making it look easier or quicker than it was. There's a brutality about it, but it's actually very poetic as well."
The very end of the movie, when Aron makes it back to civilization, which gave them the most problems. "We ended the film with a series of dialogue scenes, with his mother, with his sister and then with the French girlfriend whom he broke up with, says Boyle. "We did what everybody expects, arrive at some completion for the characters.
"Each of the scenes was nicely performed, but they didn't really work. Then we got the idea of stepping outside the film grammar, that once the audience had bought into that, you couldn't suddenly jettison it and go back to a conventional ending where each story is neatly and emotionally tied up."
Concludes Beaufoy: "Each film will tell you what its ending should be, and sometimes it isn't necessarily always what you want it to be."
So how does “127 Hours” end?
Go and see the picture!