Movies with not-happy endings (When Art meets Life)

What is the point of watching a movie?

What is the point of watching a movie with a happy ending?

Does life have a happy ending?

Is cosmos full of light and laughter?

WARNING: This page has spoilers for all the movies mentioned. Stop here if you do not want spoilers.

Movies to-day have a tendency to show things from a happy point of view. Everything is OK at the end. Everyone is happy. Everything is put in place. And the viewer is of course happy as well and all is all-right.


The cosmos is a dark place. Life is full of pain and cries.

Below there is a Harmonia Philosophica selection of movies with not-happy endings. Most of them were also huge box-office failures, something that just adds up to their value. (Always seek gold in the garbage, as an alchemist would say)

There is no filtering as to the type of movies – some are deeply philosophical and artistic, others are just adventurous Hollywood movies. They all have one thing in common though: After you have watched them, you will not feel better.

And that is something rare for a viewer these days. And Harmonia Philosophica is an advocate of rare. As an ancient Greek wise man once said, we need sour in our life. Especially because it is sour.

1. The Fountain (2006)

A loyal husband tries to keep his dying wife alive while searching for the elixir of life. The story unfolds in three different timelines with each one having its own philosophical context and meaning. At the end she dies. And he cries. And the viewers are left with the feeling that there is something more in death than just the end of life…

2. Black Hawk Down (2001)

What would you do if you had to go and fight to support your comrades in battle, knowing that you will all die in the effort? War story. Real story. With a real ending. Where everyone dies. That only adds up to the bravery of the men involved.

3. Easy Rider (1969)

Two friends ride their bikes in a road trip to the edge of America. Nostalgic movie where the hope and innocence of two young men is being shattered by the cruelty of the reality we are used to to-day.

4. Lions for Lambs (2007)

Two students of a political sciences professor decide to enlist to US army so as to fight and make a difference. Their death is portrayed tragically as the story of everyday politics unfolds thousands of miles away. At the end everyone feels safe. And those who made a difference ended up dead in a void terrain…

5. Runaway Train (1985)

A convict escapes from prison and rides a train. The driver dies and the convict… Well… You know what happens. He dies. (Free…)

6. Watchmen (2009)

Superheroes and modern civilization providing a mix that can only make one sad. The good ones die only because they were actually bad. The bad ones were good but at the end they die too. At the end all will be well. Until the journal is read again…

7. Sin City (2005)

A comic-movie that shows a world not too much different than ours. Well, actually too different since in this world there is some hope. After all is dead, after the heroes have been wrongfully accused and put to prison, after revenge and vengeance have taken their toll on all, death seems more like a blessing…

8. V for Vendetta (2005)

In a dystopian future, hope can only be born at a personal cost. V is now dead. V was me. He was you. He was all of us…

9. Margin Call (2009)

How is money made? If not by walking on the (financial) corpses of other people? A day at a stock exchange company goes wild as the stakes for survival are higher than ever. At the end, all is dead. Financially. And psychologically. Oh, yes. The dog is dead as well.

10. A Clockwork Orange (1971)

Society vs. humans. The end can only be brutal. Because everyone must be happy. And everyone must comply. Until we are safe. And sound. And the deafening silence of happiness makes us go crazy.

11. Blackadder (1983-1989)

A comedy series is a weird item to see in such a list. Yet, the ending of the series is epic and unhappy in every sense of the word. After the viewer has had many laughs with the gang of the series, he sees them all going to the front of World War I for a last attack on the German enemies. Laughter turns into tears. Joy into fear. And in one last assault the tragedy of life becomes even more unbearable after all those good time you had…

So that was it.

For now.

The list is surely incomplete and will be updated as new movies come into existence. or as I remember movies that I have seen but forgot.

In a world where we are all so much concerned with being happy, movies with unhappy endings provide a crucial signpost for someone who wishes to successfully navigate through the darkness of existence.

For one can never be happy without first crying.

And at the end you may realize that happiness is not about being happy…

As a wise Dolly Parton once said…

Everybody wants happiness nobody wants pain, but there can’t be a rainbow without a little rain…

Eternal sounds…

Photo by Spiros Kakos from Pexels

Antonio De Lorenzi takes a seat onstage in the concert hall of Museo del Violino in Cremona, Italy, and carefully tucks a Stradivarius (a violi crafted in 1727 and called Vesuvio) under his chin. Through an earpiece, the ­soloist hears a metronomic beat as a voice says, “Go.”

De Lorenzi draws his bow across the lowest string and plays G for half a beat. He pauses. He then follows with A-flat. Then A. He moves up the scale, never changing his pace as he works through all four strings. Once he finishes, he repeats the exercise, this time sounding each tone just a bit faster. Clearly, this is no ordinary concert—or a typical practice. Outside, police have cordoned off the street to traffic. Inside, workers have shut down the heater despite the January chill, dimmed the lights, and unscrewed any buzzing bulbs. As each solitary note reverberates, an audience of 32 microphones ­dotted throughout the auditorium silently listens.

This was part of a campaign to preserve the Stradi­varius sound. The museum hoped this painstaking exercise grants the rare treasures a degree of immortality so they might enchant future generations. (1)

Humans. Always wanting to keep things alive. Never satisfied with the ephemeral; always seeking the eternal instead. And yet, life itself is ephemeral. The universe is ephemeral. The cosmos itself is shouting: There is nothing that lives forever.

Magic sounds.

Mystical music.

Echoing through the aeons.

Break the violin.

Dead sounds.

Dead music.

Always there.

To remind us that it once was alive…

Can you feel the violin in your hands?

Can you whisper?

“There is nothing that lives forever. Except the things which never did”…

Who wrote what? It matters not.

Photo by Spiros Kakos from Pexels

The 17th century playwright Molière is as important to French literature as William Shakespeare is to the English canon. But for the past 100 years, a question has swirled around him: Did Molière really write his plays? Or was Pierre Corneille, another famous French playwright of the time, the true author? A new study uses computational methods to analyze subtle, unconscious elements of both authors’ writing and concludes that Molière did indeed write the plays attributed to him. (1)

But does it matter who wrote what?

In the old days people did not care about signing their works with their own name.

For what mattered, was what they wrote.

Go on.

Write down your name.

Do you see?

You are not you!

You are Homer.

You are Nietzsche.

You are Shestov.

You are me.

You are you.

You are No-one!

Attributing art. Understanding art. Making art?!

Photo by BASIL JOSE from Pexels

AI used to analyze and attribute art. (1)

Computers analyzing art.

Categorizing it. Attributing it.

Computers understanding art.

Computers destroying art.

Only because they understood it.

While it is not meant to be understood.

But can’t you see?

This means that they didn’t understand it after all!

Weird cosmos.

Full of people. Full of computers.

Humans creating art.

Computers understanding it!

How nonsensical.

How dull.

How awfully… artistic!

Death miniature 2: The school bus

Photo by Spiros Kakos from Pexels

[Death miniatures series stories]

Death miniatures are fictional ultra-small stories related to death. The goal is to draw out emotions and make the reader think more about death, which is the only thing that we keep on avoiding, even though it is defining our life and behavior from the moment we are born till the day we draw our last breath…

He was waiting for the school bus with his daughter.

She laughed and played around.

Giggling and smiling.

(Oh, how much he wanted that bus to be late…)

Oh, how lovely she was.

Happy days.

Now how daughter was in her 50s.

And as he held her tight in his arms, he was now ready to die.

And in his last breath, he was there again.

One cold morning.

With his daughter. Laughing and smiling. Giggling and playing.


Waiting for the school bus.

A tear…

(Oh, the bus was here now…)


Death stories series

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