DZ-92: Insightful recognition in powerful endings

How can endings prompt an audience to reflect on your story?

Stu & Chas set out to explore what makes certain endings powerful, in particular those of LA LA LAND, INCEPTION, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and TURNING RED. The lens they bring to those endings is Aristotle’s moment of “anagnorisis” (don’t worry – we can’t pronounce it either), traditionally when a character moves from ignorance to knowledge (particularly of self).

But in analysing these films, Chas and Stu discover that endings can be particularly powerful when the characters experience insightful recognition in others, or in the world, or – perhaps most powerfully – when the anagnorisis is aimed at the audience. In other words, are there craft tools for your ending to prompt an audience to ask itself the question “What was that all about?”? Turns out, we think there are. 


Audio quotations used for educational purposes only. Timestamps indicated below. Chapter markers included in the mp3.

Thanks to Chris Walker for editing this episode.


  • 00:00:00 – Intro
  • 00:00:48 – Insightful recognition in endings
  • 00:03:39 – What the hell is “anagnorisis”?
  • 00:12:04 – LA LA LAND
  • 00:30:45 – INCEPTION
  • 00:35:14 – NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
  • 01:00:04 – TURNING RED
  • 01:18:18 – Wrap up & Key Learnings
  • 01:24:26 – Thanks patreons!



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