Happy Endings, Expectations, and a Hatchet Wielding Hunk

Song of the Day: Slow Burn by Atreyu

This week I finally saw the movie Snow White and the Huntsman. It was a fun, dark, entertaining twist of the classic Snow White fairy tale. And I truly appreciated Kristen Stewart not once swiping her hair behind her ear ala brooding Bella-style. Overjoyed really. BUT, and much like my rear-end, it’s a big but, I was 100% unsatisfied with how the movie ended.

chris hemsworth huntsmanOh sure, there was a happy ending—evil was vanquished and good reigned once again. Just it was not a happily-ever-after ending. As the credits rolled, I shook my head feeling I’d been cheated. It’s a fairy tale, with Chris Hemsworth, for Grimm’s sake. Where’s the damned happily-ever-after?

A good story doesn’t have to end in wedding bells and Disney-esque promises of eternal love. A good story can end in ambiguity. It can end with a tragic, yet beautiful goodbye. It can end with lines like “After all, tomorrow is another day.” It can leave you in stoic thought or just end with a certain finality. Heck, it can even end horribly. But the story should end satisfyingly.

As an aside, there was one movie with an ending so appalling, so shocking (even for me) that I was beyond unsatisfied. I was angry and even a little depressed. It was the 2007 adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist. *shudders*

Back to my point.

I got to thinking about books. In romance, there is an unwritten rule (or maybe it is etched in a golden tablet hidden in the labyrinth sewer system beneath New York City) stating there must to be a happy ending for the heroine. The happy ending may include the happily-ever-after or it may allude to a life of happiness with her hero. Oftentimes, the heroine’s quest for love and/or happiness doesn’t end in one book, continuing on throughout a series of books instead. Yet, at the culmination of each tale, there is a gratifying conclusion to her adventure.

In Snow White and the Huntsman, there was a building trust, personal growth, and discovery of the heart. At times, it was subtle, but it was there most certainly. There was even a true love’s first kiss. Much mightier than any sword or incantation, mind you. It stands to reason there would be a happily-ever-after, or at the very least a pledge of one. For all that, the appropriate ending was glaringly neglected in the final scene. How frustratingly uncool. Boo…hiss…

If this happened in a romance novel, I doubt I would pick up another book from that author and I suspect I wouldn’t be alone. It’s the writer’s obligation to fulfill the reader’s expectations. Whether it is to leave the reader sighing from the perfect HEA, breathless with an explosive finish, or anticipating the next installment, authors must give the reader satisfaction. I believe this is true for all books, regardless of the genre, romance or otherwise.

I’m no movie critic. Nope, I’m just another yahoo with an opinion. For the most part I was entertained by the film. But as a romance writer, I’d say the movie makers missed the mark. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must pick up popcorn kernels thrown at the TV screen.

Have you seen the movie? What are your thoughts? Has any movie or book left you disappointed? Let’s hear from you.

17 Responses to Happy Endings, Expectations, and a Hatchet Wielding Hunk

  1. maw25 says:

    I’m a purist when it comes to comic books. Yes, I will admit that I like my comic book heroes.

    *start rant*
    That said, when I saw “The Avengers” I got more than pissed off at the ending. Tony Starke DOES.NOT.END.UP. with Pepper. They NEVER date. In fact, he hooks her up with Happy, his driver/bodyguard. Unfortunately in true Hollywood form they thought they needed that element.

    Actually they didn’t. Just watch the chemistry between Hawkeye and Black Widow. The backstory is/was there and they didn’t capitalize on it.

    *end rant*

    Marika/Harlie
    maw1725@gmail.com

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  2. jbrayweber says:

    Ah. Point well taken, Marika. You’re right, Hollywood takes many, many liberties. I will admit, I haven’t read comic books for a long, long time. I didn’t know that Pepper and Tony were not and never were to be an item. Very interesting tidbit. Thanks!

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  3. Jenn, I saw the movie – loved it! And saw the look of understanding between them at the end. In my mind they are together – the film was clear – nothing short of HEA LOL

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  4. jbrayweber says:

    Sorry, MC. We’ll agree to disagree on this one. In my book, a half-ass smile from across a room does not constitute a HEA. Yes, an understanding passed between them. But what was that understanding, exactly? That she was back where she rightfully belonged, that they wouldn’t be where they were without one another. *spoiler alert* And that she would likely go one to marry William. Remember who kissed whom… 🙂

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  5. I have, but I’m not going to say which or who. I need a all the immediate bits tied up nicely and preferably an eiplogue that shows me children.

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  6. jbrayweber says:

    Now I’m curious, Ella. I don’t have to have the neat package tied in a pretty bow ending. I just need to walk away entertained and satisfied. 🙂 Thanks, Ella!

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  7. Bethany says:

    It’s been awhile since I’ve seen the movie, so I don’t remember what I thought of the end (because I can’t remember the end LOL) but sometimes I feel that way. Unfortunately, Grimm’s Fairy Tales are often very bloody and sometimes don’t end happy AT ALL (I got a big book of them and it’s amazing how grotesque they can be…in some cases I prefer the remakes!) However, I do know some of the translations of the French fairy tale of BEAUTY & THE BEAST and while I do enjoy the Disney version quite a bit, people were shocked to learn there were NO talking furniture in the stories…that there were invisible servants. I kept wondering if the fairy tale was really that obscure that people wouldn’t know any other versions. Or maybe they’re just not readers. I don’t know. All I know is, I was surprised when people didn’t know that tidbit. (But let me reiterate…I DID like the Disney movie!)

    I didn’t know that about Tony Stark and Pepper, either. I can see where that would annoy a comic book purist, but since I’m not one, I actually enjoyed the romance between them. But, I can see why purists would be mad.

    Being a hopeless romantic (or should I say Helplessly Romantic–because there’s NO way I’m going to stop being one) I do love the happily-ever-afters. I like good conquering and true love being sent off to live out there happy lives (one of the reasons I love THE PRINCESS BRIDE so much….other than the fact it’s just so freaking awesome because it has absolutely something for everyone! And let’s not forget the fantastic quotable lines, either, shall we?) Sometimes I’m okay with the bittersweet ending, but I do love it when the hero and heroine end up all happy together.

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  8. jbrayweber says:

    I almost went off on a mini sidetrack about the Grimm fairy tales. You’re right, they are often violent with very adult subject matter. And depending on the country the tales are told, the adaptations of the stories can range wildly. And sometimes there was an agenda involved.

    A bittersweet ending can be just as good as a HEA. Think Casablanca, Gone With the Wind, Cold Mountain. Great endings despite the hero and heroine are not together.

    Thanks, Bethany!

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  9. Suzan Harden says:

    My question is why the hell did you expect Snow to end up with the Huntsman? I’m not complaining that they cast hottie Chris Hemsworth as the Huntsman BTW, but nowhere in oral tradition, Grimm’s collection or even Disney’s @*$@# version does she end up with the Huntsman. To me the ending was akin to “Casablanca”. I wouldn’t have had any respect for Snow if she turned into a selfish bitch and abandoned the Resistance for the love of her life. To me, Marie-Claude’s “look of understanding” was just as powerful as “We’ll always have Paris.”

    And don’t watch the new “Hansel & Gretel” if you expect a HEA in every fairy tale! You will be sorely disappointed. (Though personally, I think Jeremy Renner’s gratuitous butt shot was worth the ticket!)

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  10. jbrayweber says:

    Of course the Huntsman doesn’t end up with Snow White. Nor did I expect that to happen, Suzan. *spoiler alert* And as much as I adore CH, the Huntsman’s kiss shouldn’t have brought Snow back to the living, either.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for HEAs in all movies and books. I want my expectations met. SW just didn’t do it for me. Also, just because a movie is based on a fairy tale doesn’t mean it should follow the story to the letter. In fact, I like them when they are dark. Red Riding Hood was pretty awesome. No HEA there. I also like it when they make the stale a fun ride. Mirror Mirror was cute. Both movies very different, both movies had satisfying endings. And by the previews of Hansel and Gretel, I bet I’ll get a kick out of that movie, too.

    Thanks for popping in!

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  11. jbrayweber says:

    Oh…and there appears to be a Snow White and the Huntsman part 2 in production. Maybe they’ll get it right next time, HEA or not. 😉

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  12. I was disappointed with the ending as well, so I tried to focus on the eye candy that is Chris Hemsworth. I saw it in the theater and I do remember leaving completely unsatisfied.

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  13. jbrayweber says:

    It’s hard not to focus on such a smokin’ hot man with a knack for wielding his tool, er, ahem, axe. Ha! Thanks, Judy!

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  14. Thank you for your post and question, Jenn. I’m not up on recent movies, but I can think of one famous older film I really love—except for the ending.

    I’m talking about “My Fair Lady”. In its ultimate source, George Bernard Shaw’s stage comedy “Pygmalion”, Eliza leaves Higgins and runs off with Freddie. Both men really have it coming.

    But in the film version, and the Broadway musical it’s directly based on, who gets her—the lovestruck, devoted young swain or the arrogant, overbearing control freak? No prizes for guessing!

    I’ve read that Alan Jay Lerner, who wrote the Broadway musical, changed the ending because he thought his way was more “romantic”. Sorry, that’s not my idea of romance. That’s my idea of contrivance. And stupidity!

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  15. jbrayweber says:

    Hmm…Mary Anne. I didn’t know this. But in my very weak defense, I don’t remember if I’ve ever watched the movie in it’s entirety. Thanks for the insight!

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  16. I am so with you on this one. I too wanted the story wrapped up with a pretty bow on top. Would it have killed them to show the HEA? Everything was set up for it. Leaving the huntsman standing there at the end of the aisle but not going after her!!! Ugh!!! It ruined the movie that was otherwise excellent. Just my opinion. 🙂

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  17. jbrayweber says:

    I share your opinion, Christa. Enjoyed the movie up until that point. Maybe they’ll do a better job for the sequel.

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