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…

Once upon a time in Hollywood… [About Death]

What does “Once upon a time in Hollywood” has to teach us? Nothing that life cannot teach us itself. The cynical nature of our existence. The void in which we experience the cosmos. The hope that we rely upon every night when we say good night: That we will wake up the next morning…

Too much?


But this is life.

Full of surprises. Freud used to behave like that in the last years of his life. He treated every moment as his last, he even bid farewell to his friends every time they parted as if this was the last time he saw them. So much we are dazzled by life, that we tend to never think of death. And yet, death is here. Next to us. Ready to touch us.

Let me tell you a story, as Steve Mcqueen said in the film…

Once upon a time in Town X there was a man. That man was married. He had a baby boy. That man was happily married. He had a thriving business, a loving wife and a new child. One day that man held the baby in his arms and went down the stairs. He fell. The baby died. Depression set in. His wife divorced him. His business closed. Now that man is ruined. A shadow of his old self. And he is living a life of death ever since…

Too much?


But this is life.

A true story.

One of many.

The same life was the life Sharon Tate used to have. Full and happy. She was married, she was successfull. She was waiting a child. Nothing could be better. She couldn’t wait to hold that baby in ther arms. And she would. But inside her grave…

For one night, she and four of her friends were murdered in the most gruesome way. And everyone was shocked. And everyone watched in awe. And Cielo Drive was indeed the way towards Heaven for her and those innocent lives that night took…

Too much?


But this is life.

Do you dare look at it in the eyes? Do you dare accept death?

Sharon Tate once upon a time read the Tess of Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. She even bought the book to her husband who later on made a film out of it. (There is a small scene in the Tarantino film that portrays that little detail) Funny that this excellent book talks about life’s tendency to have its own plans while you have your own…

Exactly as it happened to Tate.

Exactly as it happened to that man.

Too much?


But this is life.

On an evening in the latter part of May a middle-aged man was walking homeward from Shaston to the village of Marlott, in the adjoining Vale of Blakemore, or Blackmoor. The pair of legs that carried him were rickety, and there was a bias in his gait which inclined him somewhat to the left of a straight line. He occasionally gave a smart nod, as if in confirmation of some opinion, though he was not thinking of anything in particular. An empty egg-basket was slung upon his arm, the nap of his hat was ruffled, a patch being quite worn away at its brim where his thumb came in taking it off. Presently he was met by an elderly parson astride on a gray mare, who, as he rode, hummed a wandering tune.

“Good night t’ee,” said the man with the basket.

“Good night, Sir John,” said the parson…

Worms under the Golden Palm… (How movies are a testament to our lower ethical values)

I have recently seen the South Korean movie “Parasite”, which has recently won also the 2019 Palme d’Or in Cannes Film Festival. As many view the movie as good, which I do too, some also pinpointed the philosophical and sociological questions posed by the movie.

WARNING: Spoilers for the movie “Parasite” and “Joker” will follow!

In short, the movie shows how some low-class people infiltrate the cosmos of a high-class family to earn their trust and money. The plot quickly escalates: The infiltrators initially start with forging some papers to get a job and they finally end up killing people under some very peculiar circumstances.

As the movie tries to show the extremely difficult situation in which the protagonists’ family lives in, it is easy to see it as an attempt to justify – or at least explain – their actions. Extreme poverty and lack of options do provide (at least for some people) a justification for actions which are portrayed by the official justice system as ‘criminal’. However this is not only wrong, but could also be dangerous in the context of a society.

What I do agree with, is that tough society conditions could be a way to explain why someone is behaving in a criminal way. But this explanation has limitations: it is only an explanation and not a justification or an excuse. To elaborate more on this: Harsh conditions make it more probable that someone will behave immorally, but that does not make this right! Sure, if you are very poor you could have more chances to be bad and you would easily have more motivation to do so in order to feed your family for example, but that wouldn’t remove a pinch from the immorality of your actions if those are such. This explanation is what your lawyer would invoke in the court to get you a better sentence, but they would not be accepted as an excuse by a higher authority (call me God). Unless of course you repent which is a different story.

Wait a minute! someone might object. We were talking about criminal actions and now you mention God! How did that happen!?

Well, as I have elaborated in the article “The source of ethics”, there is no point in talking ethics and morality outside the realm of God. In a godless world, there is no point in discussing anything actually. If there is no higher authority setting the standards, we might as well set our own and everything goes! Is that nihilistic? Yes. It is. As is our current society.

The highest standards for morality were set on Earth by Jesus Christ. It is in relation to those standards that we are to compare our actions. He is the measure we should use, not the measure that fits us best. No matter what the excuse (“I was poor”, “I was under stress”, “I had to eat and was so hungry” etc), an evil action is an evil action. Of course – and this is obvious – we are not in the mind of either Jesus or God. So we could not be certain for which actions are actually moral and which are not, although we do have some good indications. For example we all agree that killing is something bad no matter what. You are poor and killed someone? I don’t care. You shouldn’t. (For Jesus it would be evil perhaps even to think about killing someone, but let’s stick to the basics now)

This lowering of our standards is exactly the problem of this movie and with many other movies nowadays. Joker for example also portrays a picture of an ill man who does what he does because of bad society. At the end, the criminal is almost shown as a hero who managed to stand up against the evil of modern society who brought him to the position he was in. Again, for Christ this would not work as an excuse. Sorry Joker. A sequel of “Parasite” would easily be the trial of the protagonists and them going to jail for the crimes they did. But again, that wouldn’t sell much. (And that is perhaps the problem for everything we see lately in the cinema)

Man should always strive for the best.

Theosis should be our ultimate goal.

Unless of course we believe we are worms.Crawling in the dirt.Watching movies…Under a gold palm tree…

DC vs. Marvel: A battle already won (thus, lost). [Losing money in an era of profits]

DC will soon be releasing The Jocker.

A film which had already won prestigious awards and which is destined to rule the Oscars. But why is that film successful, in comparison to other DC films?

The answer is simple: because in this film, DC is itself and does not pretend to be something else that what it is. And the same applies to all other successful films of DC, like The Dark Knight, Watchmen, V for Vendetta etc. In these films DC does not try to imitate Marvel and, thus, successfully reflects the only thing which ever matters: itself.

At the end everything fake dies. (Wait! We die too!) Everything true stays for ever.

In an era of existence, can you dare not reflect yourself? In an era of marketing, do you dare not to sell? DC keeps on trying to follow the path of others because it thinks it must. And yet, in an era of profits, success – true success – is measured by how much you can sustain loses. And still stay true to yourself.

The Watchmen are dead now.

V as well.

At the end DC will manage to sell more.

And the Jocker will laugh.

But no one will see that he is truly crying…

Star Wars VIII – The last Jedi explained. Allegories. Weird references. Balance.

~ Warning: Potential SPOILERS may be contained!

The new Star Wars Episode VIII (8) is finally released.

All the fans are out there looking for a room to watch the new part of the saga and they will not be disappointed. The new movie is a quality addition to the Star Wars (SW) universe and delivers to the promises. Space chases, lightsaber battles (although not exactly with other… lightsabers), key characters dying, intense… spiritual battles, cool Jedi tricks which will make you gape in awe, the return of Yoda (OK, a Jedi is never really “gone”) and many cool funny moments. And the cherry on top: The promise for a new generation of young Jedi…

All in all the movie seems to move the story forward, but yet again it gives intense hints of something not many people anticipated: That the story does not move forward at all.  Because it cannot. That the story is a story of balance, which is always there. From the beginning to the end, the universe will always be in an equilibrium no matter what Luke, Rey, Princess Leia or Kylo Ren do.

When Rey finds Luke and tries to convince him that the universe needs him, Luke at once dismisses any titles of grandeur. He does not want to be a myth. He knows the Jedi are flawed. He – as their leader once – most of all. He explains that there is no need to call for him especially. Rey does insist but in the course of action she does learn that the Force is nothing more than a field which penetrates everything and is interconnected to the balance penetrating the whole nature.

Where there is light, there is darkness.

Where there is good, there is evil.

Luke failed in many aspects. He gathered 13 students (rings a bell?) but one of them betrayed him; although not before Luke himself betrayed his student. The temple was destroyed (rings any bell?) and the darkness started to spread. At the end Luke did return. Only to sacrifice himself (rings any bell?) for the Rebellion to survive.

The key again is balance. Death is the seed for new creation. Sacrifice is the seed for eternal life. As in the philosophy of Christianity, the Star Wars saga is not a story which moves forward. It is a story where humans try to move backward and reconnect with what they once knew but they have now forgotten. People who see light and darkness instead of just accepting the cosmos and looking at the universal balance of everything in everything. Snoke did die. Only to give way to a new Supreme Leader. Luke did fight. Only to die. And give hope for the new fighters of the Rebellion – who will no question die someday. Rey did start to discover her potential. Only to balance the darkness rising from the other side.

At the end there will be no heroes. At the end we will just have new fights. And new islands of peace between them. With new heroes. With new leaders and new followers. At the end what one must seek from a Star Wars movie is not the resolution of something happening. But the epic journey of the cosmos that that equilibrium everyone seeks. A journey during which the protagonists’ only purpose is to discover “their place in the story”, as Rey so honestly craves for.

Seek not for grandeur. See balance.

See not for completeness. Seek the void.

Seek not the next episode. Embrace the ones you’ve seen already.

Because where there is emptiness, you feel complete…

The cosmos does not change. Everything is One.

From the times of Grand Moff Tarkin, to the days of Leader Snoke.

From the times of Darth Vader, to the days of Ben Solo.

From the days of Luke, to the days of Rey.

The world is not light. Not darkness either.

It just Is.

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