We've had some fun laying the track "Moving On" on to other shows' finales. The problem though is that few if any other shows have finales as cinematic and epic as Lost did. So lets turn from TV to epic cinema...
(Once again, obviously, don't hit "play" or read commentary if you've not seen the actual film!) An alternate name for this post is "Big White Guys and their Big White Guy Heads".
A paraplegic on government benefits finds himself in a strange new jungle, were he regains the ability to walk. The land seems a magical place, and it at times even seems sentient. But it has a long history of clashes between its natives and an outside group, which dug into the ground against the natives' wishes. The natives had bows and arrows initially, and the outsiders had guns, yet the natives gained the upperhand, in part by using the invaders' own weaponry against them.
The ex-paraplegic explores, he hunts, he protects the place from invaders, and he eventually becomes its people's leader, though it means killing and betraying his own people. In the climax, the hero ("J.S.") faces off against the villain, who is now part human, part something else. The villain's about to stab his neck fatally, but the hero's girlfriend shoots him first, saving the hero.
After the land's protector is stabbed to death - at his own encouragement! - the hero takes his place because it's what's supposed to happen. And in the final scene, he leaves his earthly body behind. In the last shot, his eyelid flutters.
Also, Michelle Rodriguez dies. As usual, no one cares.
Back to the Future
Other than the deleted scene of young Eloise coming on to Daniel, Lost referenced Back to the Future through Hurley, unsurprisingly. But Lost's time travel rules had nothing to do with the movie series -- whatever happened happened worked out far better in terms of "making logical sense," but it ruled out some of Back to the Future's fun. It also ruled out BTTFs concluding philosophy that the future is whatever you make of it. Lost had posed the fate vs free will question far more directly than BTTF did till the closing scene, and it actually answered it: fate, sadly.
The flash sideways felt a lot more like Back to the Future than the time travel scenes did. They felt so at the time of course, because we thought a change in the past had made an alternate timeline, but they seem so on rewatch as well. No matter the cause, we're seeing an alternate scenario play out with the characters, set in a time we already saw. The pathetic alternate Ben and Cooper seem reminiscent of what happened to Biff, and happy-go-lucky good time Hurley seems like a newly confident George McFly.
A Beautiful Mind
Hurley: "Nurse! Is there a guy talking to me right now?"
Man: "Hello Hugo."
Hurley: "You came here to see if I'm crazy or not?"
Man: "Well, are you? Crazy?"
Hurley: "Maybe. But maybe I'm blessed too. Hey, we all see we're things. What about that horse Kate saw?"
Man: "We're all haunted by images of our past."
Hurley: "You two have a kid yet?"
Man: "David's not real! Because... he doesn't age!"
Hurley: "Dude, it's been like a week. How would you tell?"
Man: "Still, it's not real! None of it's real!"
Hurley: "I'm real. You're real."
Jennifer Connelly: "This is real." (*Kisses them both*)
Man: "I'm not a man of science anymore."
Changing the closing music, even to Giacchino, makes zero sense and ruins the scene. But it's as good a starting point as any to launch a discussion on Lost connections.
A continuous black and white repetition. Twins - the good white twin and the bad black twin. The horrific transformation. And from the film, rather than Swan Lake, we have the white twin killing the black twin... only no, not really.
And we have a mother who may or may not be a smoke monster. Taking a look at Barbara Hershey's performance gives me a better idea of why the producers cast Allison Janey. Barbara Hershey has recently resumed her relationship with Naveen Andrews - they had previously been together for 12 years. She is 63 now.
There's also the mirror motif, particularly the lead character noticing a bizarre, inexplicable scar in the mirror, a scar that begins to bleed. And we have the theme, once again, of "letting go." But unlike Lost and the other movies offering this theme, we see that totally letting go and losing yourself may be somewhat less than ideal.
When thinking out the connections to Lost, I actually said to myself, "Well, too bad that despite the seagulls and the Hurley Bird the show had no actual swans in it." Then it hit me...
The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari
You know the "an asylum inmate is hallucinating it all" ending that Lost teased? Here's the movie that invented it. This movie also pretty much invented the twist ending, and the flashback, at least in film.
Changing the past to save yourself from an airplane disaster? And then that not panning out in the end anyway? A "tangent universe" whose people vaguely recall the real world? A reset that leaves main characters not knowing each other?
And oh yeah. It's got bunnies.
The Dark Knight Rises
Okay, I now can't watch a TV or film series finale without mentally humming "Moving On." But even I couldn't have predicted that "moving on" would be the theme of The Dark Knight Rises - to the point where the hero's love interest (a long-haired brunette fugitive, of course) literally seeks a macguffin called "Clean Slate." To the point where mobility is frequently mentioned and the hero must first overcome a leg injury, and then a crippling spinal injury! Many sagas end with the hero sacrificing himself, but this movie began with the hero already open to dying, leaving his eventual decision to choose life a satisfying twist. Few stories go this path - but Lost kind of did too, with Jack attempting suicide two weeks before his eventual death. This was one reason Jack's death originally disappointed me; he seemed to simply give in to the death he'd been seeking.
But the difference lies in the motive for dying. Bruce opens himself to defeat because he has nothing worth living for, and he later regains his appreciation of life. Jack too sees nothing worth living for, but specifically because he correctly imagines that he's turned his back on his destiny. He eventually sacrifices himself because he has discovered the calling he'd previously lacked, and when he died, there's a (tearful) smile on his face.
There's a wretched video circulating online of people watching the Lost finale live and yelling that it's ripping of Ghost. You certainly might connect the two after the fact, especially the sight of the silhouette against the light, but it seems a sacrilegious response for your first viewing.
Still, Ghost's closing scene was only the SECOND most Lost-y part of it.
Gladiator's ending differed from Lost's in that it featured a black character. But it also featured a knife fight between the hero and the villain that killed both of them... followed by the hero's death juxtaposed with his flash sideways. And even a walk through a field!
I'm doomed for the rest of my life to connect every fictional work to Lost. But how could I not do this with Inception?
- Flash forwards...
- Daddy issues...
- A sequence of six numbers...
- Cliffs crumbling into the sea...
- A Japanese man who offers a choice...
- A boy and a girl who fans think don't age but who, if you look closer, definitely do...
- The idea that this existence is false, and the only way to escape is to commit suicide...
- Anchoring yourself with an object of personal significance that exists in multiple realities...
- Washing ashore on a mysterious beach that might just be limbo...
- Escaping a flooding car, then buddy breathing to escape...
- "Dare you take a leap of faith? Or become an old man, filled with regret, waiting to die alone?"...
- The main action takes place on a flight from Sydney to L.A. that carries one passenger's dead father to his funeral...
- An arrival at LA X that may or may not be part of a fantasy...
- And a shared dream between the characters, populated chiefly by projections, in which the main character is haunted by guilt and images from his past, making the overall theme of the entire work "letting go".
Lost had some pretty explicit shout-outs to Jacob's Ladder. The last track from the season 5 soundtrack was called "Jacob's Stabber", and then a track from the season 6 one was "Jacob's Ladders" - it played as characters descended ladders that may have belonged to Jacob.
I'd long heard that movie's twist was that the main character hallucinated the whole thing while dying. Then I actually saw it and found that no, that's only one interpretation. Jacob may equally well be experiencing an actual limbo as he dies, one as real as the flash sideways. There's even a chance that he shares this imagined world with people he knew while alive.
I take it people assumed the dying dream explanation because the final shot was the character's death, which we saw after he walked into the light. But then again, Lost's final shot was also the character's death.
Well, people's interpretation of "Jacob's Ladder" probably also has to do with the text that appeared AFTER the final shot, which referred to the hallucinogens that the military gave those enlisted in Vietnam...
The Lion King
Lord of the Rings
Here's another film to which Lost explicitly marked out connections. Besides the nods to Dominic Monaghan's role in the trilogy, we had the season 6 track "Down The Hobbit Hole". As we wrote on that piece's article, "Like the climax in Lord of the Rings, Desmond enters a lava-filled area to negate the source of the main villain's power.:
Conversation about Lost's ending probably went something like this:
Damon: "So then the volcano we've been talking about finally erupts. Leaving Jack to a certain death on a rock."
Carlton: "And then, out of nowhere, comes the Hurley Bird!"
Damon: "We still don't explain it, but now Hurley's riding it like a flying DHARMA van!"
Carlton: "So they sweep up Jack, and... wait, didn't Lord of the Rings already do this?"
Damon: "Dammit. They did. Shall we just cut to a surreal sentimental reunion scene then?"
Carlton: "Lord of the Rings did that too."
Damon: "Who cares? It'll be that good."
The Matrix: Revolutions
Our hero, the white guy Christ-figure, who has struggled throughout the story with the dichotomy between fate and free will, finally faces off against the main villain. He uses the glowy orange Source to render his opponent vulnerable, and though the villain dies, the hero does as well. Through his victory, he ends a centuries-long cyclic battle. And conflict ends between two sides - one light and one dark, one of science and one of faith.
Another closing death followed by a flash sideways. And, of course, LAX leads to an imagined reality that reflects your hopes and fears, populated in part by people you knew given new roles to satisfy your subconscious needs...
But mainly, OH MY GOD JACOB AND PHIL IN THE SAME SCENE!!1!!eleventy!
The Passion of the Christ
Just in case Jack (and every other character)'s Christ-parallels weren't obvious enough...
Requiem For A Dream
"Moving On" showed us beauty in sadness. Can it save us from the single most depressing movie end of all?
The Saw series
Michael Emerson co-stars as a hospital orderly who's convinced that his patient John, who has an irreversible condition, is special. Emerson is obsessed with mysterious rules, and people suspect he is the Big Bad - but he's not. A crazy amount of action surrounds John's dead body, which turns out not to be so dead after all. But later, it's clear that John died halfway through the series, but he continues as one of the most important characters right to the end. Oh, and Ken Leung is a cop.
Well, that was how the Saw series began anyway. Then came six sequels, some awful, and the low, low reviews overall made the series the single most underrated film saga in history. Also, the single most... plotted original film series in history, horror or otherwise, which would shock anyone who hasn't watched it.
Other than the early cast crossovers, the thing that most closely linked the series with Lost was how much it rewarded close attention and devotion. Continuous, usually logical retcons, Chekhov's guns, minor characters from years ago that suddenly gain importance... all of which is lost on the casual viewer - or reviewer. Of course Emmy judges didn't give a damn about the continuity cavalcade and emotional closure in "The End". And of course critics thought nothing of Saw 3D's amazing final minutes. They instead called the movie "incomprehensible" (along with tons of other, legitimate criticism).
There are other links with Lost too. Non-linear storytelling, in a big way. Ontological mystery. Amazing music. Subjects waking up in a strange place and turning on each other - or working together. Oh, and everyone died. EVERYONE.
Some people may connect Jigsaw and Ben because of the whole "master manipulator" role and Michael Emerson's part in the series, but I see Jigsaw very much as a Jacobesque figure. He draws people that he sees as flawed and, against their will, subjects them to experiences he thinks will cure them. These experiences almost invariably kill the subjects and do little to support the tester's view of humanity. This video even shows him baptizing his foremost disciple. Both goad their eventually killer into murder, but death is far from the end for them. Their plan continues. They keep communicating with followers. And their successors take up the reins.
Not too much linking this with Lost's end, other than if you watch either with dry eyes, you have no soul.
There's also no question that if Jack's time traveling adventures sent him to WWII, he'd try to rescue as many as he could... and he'd weep afterward at how many he'd failed to save.
Which brings to mind an important scene missing from Season 5.
Jack: "So where are everyone else?"
Sawyer: "The security team? The motor pool? You';; meet 'em all, doc. Just be patient."
Jack: "No, I mean our people."
Sawyer: "We got lots of people. There's Phil, and there's Amy..."
Jack: "No, OUR people. Sullivan? Tracy? Scott?"
Sawyer: "They're dead."
Jack: "Ha, ha. Whoops. I mean STEVE. And the rest. Where are they?"
Sawyer: "They're dead. All of them."
Jack: "They all died?! I lost just a handful when we were sleeping in tents and living on scraps. You spend three years in civilization, and you lose them ALL?!"
Sawyer: "Not three years, bedpan. Three hours after you left, the whole lot of 'em died."
Jack: (*cries for several days*)
The Sixth Sense
Here's cinema's most famous "Dead All Along" ending. Though the final shots when Bruce realizes he can move on are very emotional, the actual scene where he discovers he's a ghost features some pounding suspense music. It seems funny post-Lost. I feel like yelling: "What are you so nervous about? You're dead! Why doesn't this news make you cry with joy and relief?"
South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut
In honor of the recent Lost Park cartoons.
Toy Story 3
We've seen "Life and Death" put over Toy Story 3's dump scene. ... And we've seen Toy Story 3's "The Claw" played over Lost's final scene. This final mash-up was inevitable.
I hope I don't have to explain why THIS movie's ending's like Lost's.
Interestingly, you know how the "reveal" conversation in this video is quite a bit longer than the one between Jack and Christian? That's actually just a TINY FRACTION of the conversation from the movie. It's insanely long, answering every possible question. It's awkward, and it's kind of insulting. It makes you really admire the simplicity of "I died too/Everyone dies sometime kiddo". Lost knew that those who cared would rewatch the season and figure it all out. Those who didn't would not. A third category would conclude that everyone had died in the crash, but we shouldn't bother catering to morons.
Vanilla Sky had their own line similar to that bit between Jack and Christian. "Somebody died. It was ME." That could have been pretty powerful if we hadn't already just heard ten minutes of explanation about Cruise's character being cyrogenically frozen after death.
Also, Tom Cruise is just an angly, smashed version of Mathew Fox. Who acts in real life like Jack does with lit dynamite.