There are many films about death, or at least I presume there must be, because death is such an important part of life1. Yet I can’t think of any film where the main theme is death; that is, one where death is not overshadowed by ideas such as ‘the redemptive power of love’ or kindness or cruelty or… anything. Whatever it is, it usually involves kissing.
Often when I’m watching a film and there’s a significant death, I remember my idea. Surely someone has already done this, I think. But I don’t know if anyone has2.
Rather than a death being shown in relation the ways in which it affects others – which is clearly the way to tell an interesting story3 – why have I never seen a film where the death is everything, the main event, the end? That’s what life and death is, after all.
My idea is for a film which starts out normally, like any other film. The story gets going, and it’s actually quite a good one. We start to bond with the characters and get interested in what’s going to happen. Think of Kick-Ass half-way through. And then something happens. The main character – the one who we identify with and whose ‘eyes’ we are seeing the film through – dies. And that’s it. Cut to black, credits, lights up.
Imagine Inception if, when Cobb goes to see his Dad in a lecture theatre, he accidentally tripped, fell down the stairs and broke his neck. In The Wrestler, when Randy cut his finger in the store, imagine if he just bled to death there and then, end of film. Imagine Kick-Ass choking to death on his cornflakes.
There are many films with significant deaths, but the point of my idea is the finality of death, and the fact that it can be completely unexpected. When you do die, that’s the end for you.
Let the audience think about that as they walk out of the cinema.