A story can be strengthened by coordinating the first and final images in some way.
It's not a hard and fast rule; it's not a rule at all. But it can be worth trying out in your writing!
The movie Halloween (there it is! I had to start talking about it!) starts with an image of Michael Myers' family home, 17 years ago or so. The movie ends with a montage of places touched by Myers' horror, and the final image is of the Myers house again, now dilapidated and boarded up.
High Fidelity starts with a distraught Rob hiding in his headphones, blasting music after a breakup, and ends with him in headphones again, making a mixed tape for someone he cares about.
Spider Man 2 begins with an image of Mary Jane on a poster, and ends with the REAL Mary Jane, urging Spiderman out to do his work.
Sorry for the old time references; they were the ones that came to mind.
Final Images are often opposite images or “flipped” versions of Opening Images in some way.
Bookending can be subtle, like in the Seinfeld finale that includes a piece of dialogue straight from the first episode. Both written by Larry David.
The Breaking Bad final episodes bring back some characters from the first couple episodes, and the finale features a flashback to the first episode.
My favorite example of this is the first time I noticed the technique. It's the Star Trek the Next Generation finale episode “All Good Things…”, one of the best TV finales ever.
Speaking of Star Trek, it's the 50th anniversary of the franchise's existence. Pretty cool, and a good enough reason to discuss this example in a bit of detail.
Anyway, the first episode of ST:TNG featured the crew encountering Q, a powerful alien being, who appeared as a judge of humanity, determining whether the human race deserved to exist.
Seven years, and many many episodes later, Captain Picard found himself moving back and forth through time. He saw his own future, and also traveled against his will into the past, to that first adventure. This allowed us to see past crewmembers (Tasha Yar!) and a less evolved Data. Fun stuff! It also brought back Q, who appeared all through the series, but now reappeared in his Judge's outfit for the first time.
It's a great episode, exciting and as perfect a send off as the series could have had. But is it the “Bookending” technique that made it work?
The thing was well written and directed, and the actors did great as always.
But if you ask me, yes! It's the Bookending that makes it work. That's what makes it really special.
Revisiting earlier characters, or dialogue, or settings can show how far the characters have come, and how they've changed (or how they haven't, as in the Seinfeld example).
So, look for a taste of the beginning in the ending. Maybe try peppering in a little bit of your beginnings into your own endings; even if it's subtle, people might feel it.
Or so ol' Thursday Banes figures, anyway!
have a good one!
Banes at 12:00AM, Sept. 15, 2016
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