Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Ending of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon"

Lo & Jen
I don't really consider myself close-minded. I'm not really open-minded either. How does the saying go? Something about being so open-minded that you have no opinion? That's not me. I like examining other cultures and pondering their history and belief system. I usually do this through entertainment since I'm a whiz at remembering movies and television but struggle immensely with historical facts and dates. It's best for me to learn about a culture by observing it through their entertainment media. What can I say. The system works for me.

But I doubt anything could help me understand the ending to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The movie is beautiful. I'm not denying the filming is tasteful. But the end has me flummoxed. I'm used to films either having a definite happy ending or a definite sad ending. There is no real in-between for most of the movies I watch. Movies that end like Dear Frankie tend to make me go "eh" and move on to something else. But in this one, the ending is just too weird. I'll be pondering it for days. I get that the entire film takes place in a mythical reality set in China. The type of martial arts used is physically impossible since no one can actually walk on air or water. Not gonna happen. So, the movie is established as make-believe.

That's all well and good. But just because a movie is set in a mythical realm doesn't mean the audience wants an obscure ending. The secondary heroine, Jen, is a lovely girl with martial arts abilities and a desire to be something more than a wife. I understand that. Most women want to be accepted as being more than just the counterpart to a man. So, her fiance is not her choice. Instead, she prefers a bandit she met when he attacked her caravan on the way to meet her fiance. This would be Lo, or Dark Cloud, as he's called. But her family searches for her and her father's men move closer and closer to Lo's hiding place. So, he tells her a story as they stand together staring at a nearby mountain, about a man who made a wish and jumped off the mountain. But he didn't die because his faith was so great. He wasn't harmed at all, but landed unscathed and his wish came true. I think it had to do with saving someone's life.

We fast forward through a lot of emotional upheaval and angst including a couple of battles where Jen turns scary ninja on people and throws them through walls. Pretty awesome scenes. Unfortunately, a man she greatly respects is poisoned and he dies in the arms of the woman he loves. Jen knows an antidote for that poison but arrives too late. Instead of killing Jen (because Jen is partly responsible for the death), the woman sends Jen away to meet up with Lo and instructs to live her life in a way that pleases her. To not just give her life away to the desire of others, essentially. So, Jen finds Lo and they spend another night together. He wakes and she's gone, so he follows her and finds her on an overlook of the hideaway where they're staying. They're on a mountain. They talk a little and she asks him to make a wish and he says that he wishes they were back in the desert together. She looks at him and jumps off the edge of the mountain while Lo stands there with this expression that says he's lost her.

Jen plummets, or floats depending on your point of view, down the side of the mountain. And the movie ends.

Does this make sense to anyone? If we were to go according to the mythical realm theory, which works well so far, then shouldn't Jen's jump have an effect? Shouldn't she land unscathed because this girl has nothing if not faith? Her mentor would awaken from his death and perhaps even she and Lo could live together peacefully without anyone chasing them down. But no, the movie just ends, cutting to the name of the brilliant but frustrating director Ang Lee. Honestly, she should at least splat!

My mind must be less circular than I originally thought. I'm not much on philosophy and circular thinking. I like people going from point A and actually arriving at point B. Not squeaking right to the edge of point B and then falling into blackness. I was actually rooting for Jen and Lo. That girl has emotional hang-ups, yes, but she's best when she's with Lo. But nothing is decided, because the movie just ends with no conclusion! She could have survived and her mentor could have been brought back to life. It's possible and the audience just doesn't see it. But why? Why not show us that conclusion?

It's like watching that darn top spin at the end of Inception and never knowing if it actually falls or not! Oh, the frustration! I know I'll be watching Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon once a year for the rest of my life until I apply some logic to it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...