Ending The Mist

photo credit HERE

Netflix has Tales from the Script, which is simply interviews with Hollywood screenwriters as they discuss what it’s like to write scripts.  I love it!  And, there are a lot of Stephen King directors in the mix here.
  • John Carpenter, Christine
  • Frank Darabont, The Mist
  • Mick Garris, The Stand
  • William Goldman, Misery, Hearts in Atlantis, Dolores Claiborne, Dream Catcher

THE MIST:

Do you like the ending to the Mist?  I don’t.  How much would you pay to change it?  How about $30,000,000 ?

A producer offered a Darabont a 30 million dollar budget for The mist if he would change the ending.  Darabont asked, “What ending would you like me to have?  What is your suggestion?”  The answer: I don’t know!  Darabont explained, This is the ending I’ve been thinking about for 30 years now.  He didn’t have a suggestion.

This is my opinion. . .

So how should  The Mist end?

I have a suggestion: (a few)
1. Not that ending!
2. More seriously, it’s okay for the main characters to die – just not that way.  Let them drive away and get eaten by a big dino-monster.  That’s fine.  But a father cannot do that to his child – not a good one.  It messes up the movie for re-watch.  To me, the ending makes the David Drayton unlikable.  As you watch again, you are thinking, “I can’t like this guy, he’s got a major character flaw.”  He does what Mother Carmody wanted to do but failed.  He does it with different intentions.  Simply put, a good reason not to blow a kids brains out when a situation looks really really really bad – is because there might be a miracle.  Not only does David Drayton carry out a incredibly painful act, but the movie rubs our face in it by showing the mist getting blown away by the army.
3. They escape, drive out of the Mist with a terrible creature right on their heels.

The Mist is a great movie.  It’s a great movie you want to reflect on, chew on, discuss.  But the ending is so strong, it blinds you to everything that happened previous.

King did not end his novella.  He just let them drive away.  I guess you can do that in a book, but a movie needs an ending.  King has said he liked the ending of movie version of The Mist.

Strengths Of  The Mist

1. The story holds up.  It is based on King's  novel, and is one of the few books that actually comes alive on screen the way it reads.  That is, a lot of what you read is exactly what is reproduced on screen.

2. It's creepy.  Giant bugs, dinosaurs, and the mist itself shrouds everything -- making it even more scary!  It some ways, I think The Mist accomplishes what Under The Dome did not.  Everything is cut off from civilization, and then the monsters move in.

3. People do things that seem likely in a crisis situation.  it shows courage, fear, religious zeal and a lot of infighting.

My favorite scene: The docking bay.   

  • What is your favorite scene from The Mist?
  • How  would  you end  The Mist?

14 comments:

  1. In David's mind, he and his son are about to be eaten to death. And there is NO reason for him to think otherwise. I'd have killed that kid, too.

    And then, when the tanks came rolling in, I'd have thrown myself under the first set of treads I could get to, because who would want to be alive with those memories?

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    1. Your post has given me pause. I note what you say of what goes through the character's mind, yet aren't you being a trifle naive?

      The two major points here seem to be character motivation and Morality.

      In terms of character motivation (and Reverend feel to chip in or correct my thinking as seen fit) the whole thing is a matter of consistency. I believe the point is that up till then, despite some cynical comments, none of it displays enough of a streak that would end up the way it does in the movie. The character displays too much sanity. As for the others who leave the store, much the same could be said.

      Indeed, the more I think about it, the more some flaws in the script become apparent to me at least. One second they act like normal human beings and yet a few seconds later they are shown verging into madness. the problem is there's no clear enough transition to bridge the gap.

      Neurosis and psychosis have a strange consistency to them in that all such behavior becomes predictable once you find out what idea or meaning of life of psychic goal it revolves around,. Find that out, and you'll discover each neurotic-psychotic action hinges on the meanings of life that generate them.

      Well, you might answer, it's just a movie after all.

      True, yet what's the brass ring of fiction? To try and be as true to life as possible, and that means consistency in characterization.

      Well, but people are often inconsistent in real life.

      That's assumption, not fact. It's been my experience that people in real life are as seldom as inconsistent as thought, and those instances when they are are mostly a matter of lack of knowledge or experience. Such problems are solved by learning.

      As for Morality? Well, it's something that seems to be as instinctive as fight or flight. For instance a soldier at Normandy surrounded by carnage who's onyl thought it "It can't end like this" and so he stuggles up the beach "toward" and not "away" from the line of fire.

      It can only be an inherent moral imperative combined with belief tht makes any soldier willing to endure war, in the same way that a parent who turly cares for offspring will risk it's own life if it believes a shild will survive. Therein lies, I think, the Reverend's point, and also the flaws in the script, not enough thought was given to motivation. Indeed, Darabont's own beliefs might have had a hand in tripping him up on this point.

      Was this helpful?

      ChrisC

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    2. yeah, what Chris said.
      Totally agree with the "flight or fight" idea. We are likely to fight to the end than give up before we are in the jaws of the monster. Before that, we run for our lives.

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  2. It's a difficult ending for sure. And I think Darabont was trying to make us realize just how utterly bleak the situation was for Drayton and the rest of the escapees. I think that when directors change endings they do it for a bunch of reasons -- but they still want their work to have an impact. For example, when the ending of Bag of Bones was changed for the miniseries, I'm guessing it was part time-saving and part to provide a "happier ending." I hated it.

    I didn't have the same reaction as you to the Mist ending. But I understand why you feel that way. The ending failed for you.

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  3. I want to re-watch this but watch the black and white version.
    I love the ending but I agree about it's re-watch ability, the fact the ending is SO dark makes it hard to put it in.
    -mike

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  4. i LOVED the black and white version.

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  5. My own idea for an alternate ending would take up were King's book leaves off, with guy writing Hartford and Hope in the journal and then getting ready to turn in for the night.

    It would feature return of the tentacle thing and there'd be this whole climatic show off and in the end it would be the Kid who sort of rescues them all! He starts attacking the damn thing and hurling anything he can grab at it and one of the things he hurls sets the tentacle thing on fire and it goes out in a blaze of glory.

    For the closer we have tow options, take your pick. The characters can either:

    1. Get rescued by military, or:

    2. They're driving along when the notice the light keeps getting brighter when D. slams on breaks and is gets out of car, walks a few feet...and emerges right out of the mist!

    He sees it's only a few short feet from their car to the end of mist, maybe he even plays with it, sticks hand in and out of it etc. D gts back in car ad they drive out of mist for parts unknown. Final shot is of notebook lying open on diner counter with two words circled, ones reads Hartford, the other is Hope. Finis.

    ChrisC

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  6. How about, they come out of the mist, all seems good. . . but then drive into another patch, realizing they were only in a clearing.

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    1. Aw man, no fair. Somebody get me rewrite! How about Bachman, he hasn't been to busy as of late, right?

      ChrisC

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  7. I think the idea for the ending is fine. It's even in Steve's original story. In the final chapter, just before they drive off, David briefly thinks about shooting the others when things will become desperate, but he only has 3 bullets for the 4 of them. The book leaves it open for you to decide if he will indeed shoot them, or if there's hope after all, or whatever you think would happen. Darabont just liked that first option best to give the movie a more definite ending.

    For me it would have been a vast improvement if Darabont had made it more clear how desperate they are. The end of the movie is just too fastpaced to convey this. It also seems like 10 seconds after he shoots everyone, all the mist is suddenly gone. Again, way too fastpaced! That's my only problem with the ending.

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  8. I must admit that I am surprised that SK likes the ending of The Mist. The end of the movie basically says "trust the gummint". Yeah, maybe it was a screw-up or the hubris of the government that put you mere citizens in the dire situation that you find yourself, but you have to trust the government to get you out of the awful situation that they created. Just kick back and wait and the good-ol government (in the form here of the kick-ass GI's) will save your butt. You have to have faith and when you lose that faith, well terrible things happen and you end up killing those you love.

    Sorry, that's the antithesis of how I read SK's attitude about the government. From Firestarter to The Stand to the written version of The Mist itself when it's the government that screws up, at best the govenment fails to make it right. It's up to the individual to try to struggle on in the face of the government's monstrous failures. In SK's universe, once the government screws up, at best its bungling attempts to make things right are abject failures; most of the time they make things exponentially worse.

    For that reason I am really surprised to read that SK liked the ending to The Mist that, for all practical purposes, says "if things get bad because of what the government has done or has failed to do, just sit back and wait, 'cause it is only the government that can make it right" and as a corollary "if you try to take things into your own hands you will really only f*&k things up."

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    1. I'm not with you on that, since the entire underlying message of the story/movie is that the government can't be trusted. Yeah, maybe they clean up their own mess eventually (as in the movie), but not before it causes everyone a whoooole lot of misery.

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  9. I don't disagree with you at all as to the recognition of the government's failures. But the ending states in pretty clear terms that if David and his "crew" had stayed behind at the supermarket they would have been saved by the army. They should not have struck out on their own. As you note, the government screwed up. But they do clean up their mess. That's my point. In SK's written works the government never cleans up its messes. They may try, and even make a sincere effort of it, but they either fail or they make things worse. In many of SK's tales the theme is if you sit around and wait for the government to clean up its mess you will be sorely disappointed (and maybe dead). In his stories the only way to survive in the face of the government's screw-ups is for the protagonists (and sometimes the antagonists) to strike out on their own and personally insure their own survival. A sort of rugged individualism. But the movie version of The Mist turns that on its head. The rugged individualists, in the form of David and his crew, die (and the obvious implication is that they die because of thier own stupidty in not waiting for help), while the sheep who do nothing but wait for the government to ride in, deus ex machina like, survive(except for Mrs. Carmody but that's another subtext).

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    1. I don't take it that way. I don't think they're stupid at all for doing what they do; I think that in that situation, suicide is a viable, sensible option. How are they supposed to know the situation is (literally) on the verge of clearing itself up?

      I see what you're saying, though, and even if I felt that was the movie's focus, I'd be okay with it. Why? Because this is Darabont's "The Mist," not King's "The Mist," so there's no real mandate that it not reflect his personality moreso than King's.

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