For the most part, film postscripts — that pesky on-screen text that acts as an epilogue before the credits roll — are not a recommended way to end a film. Documentaries might use them as some kind of “where are they now?” followup, or to supply additional statistics. Even narrative “message” movies (often based on a true story) will use this epilogue text to further whatever case they’re making. But if the movie has done its job, this text is often wholly unnecessary.
That being said, great directors can use any tool, and there are examples that take the concept of the film postscript to new heights: accenting, complicating, even subverting the preceding story the audience just viewed in unique and fresh ways. From Do the Right Thing to Barry Lyndon, we’ve compiled five of our favorite film postscripts that manage to do the epilogue justice. It should be noted that since we’re dealing with text that appears at the very end of the movie, some spoilers follow.
Do the Right Thing (1989)
Many are returning to this early work from Spike Lee in recent months, and for good reason. Lee’s masterpiece closes with one of the most iconic postscripts in film history, juxtaposing dueling messages from Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, followed by a photo of the two smiling together. But one suspects Lee is leaning toward Malcolm X’s perspective, since he is given the last word. And then a few short years later, in 1992, Lee gave him the biopic treatment with Malcolm X. Watch the epilogue below: