MovieChat Forums > Point Blank (1967) Discussion > Which interpretation of the ending do yo...

Which interpretation of the ending do you like best? *Spoilers*


From what I understand, there are three ways to interpret the ending of the movie (and therefore the plot of the movie itself), where Walker just sort of slides into darkness with no resolution concerning the money.

(1)That everything that happens in the movie is "real." Walker is a criminal who, after being left for dead, miraculously survives and plots his revenge. He dissappears at the end of the movie either because (1) he knows there's no money in the suitcase and that he's probably not going to get his $93,000, (2) he realizes that there's always going to be a higher step in hierarchy to the organization and it's not worth the hassle to keep fighting, or (3) he was just waiting for Carter to leave so he can get his money later. This explanation seems to be most popular with the typical viewer.

(2)Walker is mortally wounded at Alcatraz, and as he lies dying in his cell, he concocts an intricate revenge scenario in his head as his dying wish. This explanation would seem to explain all the strange coincidences and incidents of good luck that Walker has during his course of his revenge. Fantasies are not often realistic, and likewise, in your dream scenario everything plays out exactly like you want it to. This could also explain his vanishing at the end: with his short few moments before expiring, Walker unlikely thought about anything beyond just wanting his money back: having seemingly accomplished his goals, and getting a compliment from the crime boss Carter for doing so (another fantasy), he had nothing more to think about.

(3)The most supernatural explanation: Walker did indeed die from his wounds on Alcatraz, but returns as a ghost to exact revenge. Again, this would explain all the coincidences and good luck he faces (in this explanation, it would be because as a ghost, he could show up wherever he wanted). He manages to kill off those responsible for his death, and does so by playing them off against each other. The explanation for his dissappearence this time would simply be him leaving the mortal plane since his work was done.

My problem with the first explanation is that it doesn't explain several of Walker's strange actions throughout the movie.

My problem with the second is that if this is a revenge fantasy, why go about it in such a half-hearted way? Walker doesn't kill anyone throughout the course of the movie: if I was planning my perfect revenge plan, I would want to personally take care of everyone involved.

And my problem with the final one is, if Walker is a ghost, why would he simply vanish without checking to see if he "got his money?" If that's thing that was driving your revenge (remember, thoughout the movie Walker says he wants his money back, he never suggests he is motivated *purely* by revenge) then what was the point of his return from the grave?

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{My problem with the first explanation is that it doesn't explain several of Walker's strange actions throughout the movie.}

Probably if you wanted to explain it in real terms, he knew there were people around that could probably kill him, he had no trust for them as he had already seen how easy they would kill their own people to cover up their own mistakes or to get rid of people they no longer felt comfortable with crime wise. Of course nothing is ever easy in crime.

{My problem with the second is that if this is a revenge fantasy, why go about it in such a half-hearted way? Walker doesn't kill anyone throughout the course of the movie: if I was planning my perfect revenge plan, I would want to personally take care of everyone involved.}

In death, maybe you don't actually take that sort of revenge yourself. Maybe you are kept from it in order to ascend or get to that place where we all go. Therefore he would NOT be able to actually kill people and still get there. So, he was a catalyst for other people's demise.

{And my problem with the final one is, if Walker is a ghost, why would he simply vanish without checking to see if he "got his money?" If that's thing that was driving your revenge (remember, thoughout the movie Walker says he wants his money back, he never suggests he is motivated *purely* by revenge) then what was the point of his return from the grave? }

His money motive is the only thing that people in the so called real world would understand. His motives would not be understandable if he said; Look, I was dead and now I am back from the dead to get my revenge. It was the early 70's and this wasn't the norm back then for story telling, not only that, it is possible that the book was written even earlier. Only today do those types of issues such as the one Clint Eastwood played give us a deeper meaning and or understanding of revenge and death. My thinking is that it was a combination of both part 2 and part 3 of your ideas. Part 1 wouldn't explain such a finely done movie for most of us who look for deeper meanings in such fare, however for those who wish to see it as a standard crime movie with a twist, they leave that option in the movie, so those who don't understand or refuse to look at its deeper meanings will still have something good they can take away once they finish the movie.


Great post and explanation Filmbuff

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At the end Walker is in the same place (Alcatraz) where he started. He may never have left at all. He died there, and the events of the film are his dying thoughts. We are never shown how he makes it off the island, and Fairfax just seems to pop up out of nowhere. Note that in the scene with his wife he never says a word she, does all the talking. The film strikes me as metaphysical.

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I studied this film at university, and there seems to be one major hint in the final shot that no-one seems to have picked up on (at least, not in any threads i've read so far)

we are led to believe that we are on Alcatraz in the final scene, yet the camera pans pans out to reveal Alcatraz in the background. So where were we?

The interpretation of this was that there were inconsistencies throughout the entire film - Walker shifting scenes/background unexplainably, characters and things disappearing without explanation, and finally the confusion as to where the final scene is supposed to be.

The explanation for this is the inconsistencies within dreams, which if this is the case if a tremendous observation to re-interpret into a film, and confirm the theory that the film is in fact Walkers dying dream.

www.fifesfinestonline.co.uk

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wicked interpretation.

When Demons are at the Door, you have to let em' in... Let em' in and kill em!

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[deleted]

Fort Point, at the mouth of the bay.

"The only reason I'm paranoid is because everyone's against me." - Frank Burns of M*A*S*H*

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[deleted]

***Spoiler*** Brewster tells Walker that the Alcatraz run continues. The drop location has changed, but, the run is the same. The last scene is the old cannon-clad Spanish fort protecting the mouth of the bay, Fort Point.

"The only reason I'm paranoid is because everyone's against me." - Frank Burns of M*A*S*H*

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Great post and explanation Filmbuff


Thanks man. And thanks for your responses, gave me a lot to think about.

The third one in particular. I have to remember that 1960s audiences weren't used to the Sixth Sense plot twist ending yet.

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Mine is different.... He didn't really want the money, he used that excuse to just get to the top to mess with the organization who betrayed him.

All right ramblers..let's get ramblin'
Seth Gecko (FROM DUSK TILL DAWN)

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I have to remember that 1960s audiences weren't used to the Sixth Sense plot twist ending yet.


I was thinking that myself. This film came out before i was born, and of course i haven't watched ALL the films from that time period, but having watched some films from the late '60s, in my opinion, that is something deep for that time period (assuming that post is correct about the main character having a "death dream" or a dream before he dies).

Wow.




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Well I can buy 1 and 2, #3 seems a little far fetched and also doesn't feel right for a 1967 movie to me. Personally I’m kinda in the #1 camp, but I think towards end he realizes, or maybe he knew it all along, that it wasn’t about the money. It was strictly revenge. Revenge against his war buddy (I assume from the reunion scene) who so easily betrayed him. Then revenge against an organization that he saw as a collaborator in the death of his wife, who I think he still had deep feelings for. Then at the end he finds out he was a pawn in a power struggle within the organization, and fades out. This is why he didn’t kill Yost. The way the director uses the flashbacks and the incongruity of them was the basis for my interpretation. I think the pullback at the end was a device used by the director to bring everything full circle. I’m really want to read the book now for the authors vision.
I liked Payback, and I saw that movie first, but I think this was a far better movie. 99% of the time the originals are better, the Maltese Falcon is one of the exceptions that come to mind.

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I lean towards a variation of #3.
Walker died at Alcatraz and is resurrected by Fairfax or becomes "useful" to Fairfax after his resurrection.

I have a hard time believing #2 because if it was his dying dream, it was too detailed. Despite what a recent movie (that shall remain nameless here) says, dreams ARE limited to the experiences and intelligence of the dreamer.
Walker is not presented as an educated nor as a worldly man....so to invent characters such as Brewster and Fairfax might have been beyond his grasp.

#1 doesn't work for me because Walker IS so lucky in all of his encounters.He manages to avoid detection and capture by all but Fairfax and none of his actions end w/ involvement by law enforcement.
He also manages to locate all of the people he is seeking and they all seem to do exactly what he wants when he wants (or needs) them to do it.


Suspension of disbelief: Yes. Suspension of logical thought? I'll pass.

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Once bitten, twice shy - doesn't that sum up this beautiful movie?

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Right before the credits roll at the beginning of the movie, Walker is seemingly thinking of the events that led up to his lying in a jail cell with bullets in his body. He seems to gasp (a dying breath?), then the narrative is "Did it happen? A dream? A dream?".


Maybe I read into that too much, but I took that as his being either in a dying dream or a beginning for his ghost getting ready to put the hurt on some people. Maybe the entire dream had happened in the two seconds before he died.

I'm going to watch it again now. Too many possibilities!

:)

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Also, right before Lynne pops one too many sleeping pills, she's talking to Walker but not looking at him at all. She says that she dreams of him. She seems to be racked by guilt, affected by the turn her life has taken. It seems as though she confesses to a memory of a Walker more than anything before she offs herself.

If I were to have a dying dream, I would definitely want it to include an explanation of my spouse's treachery, accompanied with a show of guilt that extreme.

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At first I thought the Dying Dream theory was silly, but i'm now leaning towards it being the most valid. At the end when the money is visualized waiting for him in the same exact spot where he pulled the Alcatraz heist, he fails to come out of his cell and collect it. This would indicate that everything was a dream and that before he could dream about picking up the loot he died from Reese's gunshot.

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[deleted]

I tend to go with the second one, there is definitely a very dreamy quality that moves forward the plot, and the way the psychological aspects become mixed up with the supposed reality, its very clear, the film is happening at a subconscious level

But I think I got to see it at least 4 or 5 times more, before giving a proper opinion

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All interpretations are valid, because ambiguity is the point of the script.
Film noir has never been about literal representation and plotting. It's always been about symbolism and extreme things.
The important thing is that Walker is, in some way, back from the dead, and is a dead man. In the scenes, his only concern is getting revenge on the people who betrayed him. That's the sole point of his life. The filmmakers intentionally left his fate after the shooting vague, so the ending cannot be a "Gotcha!" twist ending à la Shyamalan, where you're supposed to pick up clues during the entire movie and have everything cleared.
We just know, as the audience, that the events "happened" because we saw them depicted on screen, but they're a piece of fiction, and the filmmakers can opt out of strict realism. What matters is the emotional truth, the feelings of the main characters, particularly the lead. Walker exerts revenge for the sake of revenge. He won't use the money, he won't start a new life, and having the people dead won't bring him a smile on his face or relief. He's an extreme character, whether he actually survived Alcatraz, fantasizes about revenge while dying or actually comes back as an angel of death. Even Edmond Dantès in The Count of Monte Cristo ultimately abandons revenge at the end of the novel, having found new reasons to hope in mankind. Walker doesn't.
Also, remember it was the sixties. Things could be "experienced", either in reality or through hallucinations. The film blurs the lines either further.

So, it isn't an either/or situation. I think that the ending of Once Upon a Time in America or The Sopranos are also meant to mix different point of views to reach a truth above any of them.
It always shocks me that people just want to know whether Tony Soprano is killed or lives in the final scene of the show. But the point is that it doesn't really matter. Tony is a fictional character created by David Chase. The last episodes were meant to show that Tony wasn't able to change anymore. Whether he lives ten more seconds or forty more years, he made his choices about his lifestyle, he will live out in fear and anxiety and act like a pig. There's nothing interesting left to say about him, that's why the show is over, and there won't be any sequel.
And it's the same with Walker being dead or alive during the entire film. We saw a man driven obsessive by revenge (either fantasized or real) up to the point it now entirely defines who he is. An explantation would dilute many things.

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Simple ending : it turned out it wasn't really about the money... JUST BLOODY REVENGE.

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I'm always wary about an interpretation that includes "some things don't make sense in the movie" because I've seen far too many movies where it was simply bad writing or editing. 

Plus, it IS San Francisco in 1967, it could be an LSD trip! 

I really enjoyed this movie, I took it at face value i.e. #1. He realized that after Brewster had been shot that even if he did get the money, that he was a walking target and given how well James Sikking's character took out Carter and Reese that he'd be dead within a day.

I'll definitely watch this again if I run across it on cable.

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Well said "El,"

Including your thoughts on Tony Soprano.

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I just watched this incredible movie for the first time last night, and well before it was over, I was already convinced that it would all turn out to be just Walker's dying dream while lying in that Alcatraz cell. There's just so many hints and suggestions at that conclusion.

-Right from the beginning, there's a certain dream-like quality to the movie - i.e.: frequent dream/flashback sequences, juxtapositioning scenes like Marvin stomping down an endless hallway while showing him stalk his ex-wife, etc.

-There's never any explanation as to how Walker was able to survive his wounds or even escape from the island - even when asked, "How did you escape?," he doesn't answer (reminds me of "Inception," where characters realize that they're in a dream if they can't remember how they got where they are).

-The dream/flashback sequences become more frequent and fragmented as the movie progresses, and the line between them and "reality" becomes increasingly blurred.

-The movie becomes downright bizarre beginning in the scene inside of Carrol O'Connor's house - Walker running around trying to turn off appliances, Angie's voice coming over a loudspeaker and telling him to "just lie down and die" - probably the biggest hint of all that he's really in the process of dying as these scenes are unfolding - Angie playing pool and then attacking Walker with a pool stick, and then Walker ultimately waking up in bed with Angie.

-Walker doesn't know Angie's first name - did her character even exist in real life?

-Carrol O'Conner makes several references to the fact that "Fairfax is dead but doesn't know it yet," or "he'll be dead soon" - which is really alluding to the state of Walker's character IMO.

-Angie's character tells Walker, "You died on Alcatraz" - at first this may seem to be a figurative statement, but in the context of everything else, may simply be a literal one as well.

-At one point, a voiceover from Walker asks himself, "What would you have done with the money anyway? It wasn't yours to keep" (or something along those lines) - the use of "would"/"would've" rather than "will do" is very noteworthy IMO, since it's spoken as if he knows he's not going to get the money, and is more befitting of a dying man's last thoughts than someone looking ahead to the future.

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I was just about to delete this movie from my dvr, but after reading the posts on this message board, i've restored it and i'm going to check it out again.

I'll be honest, i guess i was looking at it on the "surface level". "Walker" (Lee Marvin) gets wounded, somehow survives and exacts revenge on those who did him wrong. And he wants his money. Simple.

But some scenes i saw in the film told me to look deeper - like the flashbacks. And at the end, when he didn't go after the money.

Or maybe i'm making much about nothing?



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Or maybe i'm making much about nothing?

I'd say you're not making enough out of something. ;-)

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[deleted]

Surely all Walker's vengeance needed was to get off the island


And that's the biggest problem with your 'it's was not a dream' theory.

He was badly wounded, so he exactly managed to get off the island given the strong current, cold water etc.? No escapees made it out alive. The movie never explained this and a good explanation is required.

And yeah, the ghost theory is kind of nuts :)(no offense). I'm (clearly) going with 'a dream' theory.

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