The 75 Best Final Shots in Movie History

Here’s lookin’ at you, beautiful final shots.

Best Final Shots Ever Header

20. Purple Rain (1984)

Final Shots Purple Rain

The Shot

Having conquered the stage and the crowd, The Kid (Prince) snaps his head around and drills a glare straight down the camera barrel. The holy image freezes. The artist is awash in purple light, and his expression is one of total confidence. He knows he has us. We know we are had. After 111 minutes of tumultuous melodrama, we have given ourselves over to The Kid’s majesty, and we never want his gaze to let us go.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Albert Magnoli
  • Cinematography by Donald E. Thorin
  • Art Direction by Maria Caso

The Stinger

“Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince & The Revolution


19. Rashomon (1950)

Final Shots Rashomon

The Shot

The rain has finally stopped. And as the downpour subsides, the tensions between the woodcutter (Takasi Shimura) and the jaded priest (Minoru Chiaki) calm too. Despite his prior falsehoods, the woodcutter’s selfless offer to adopt the abandoned baby warms the priest’s heart and restores his belief that people can, indeed, be selfless. Cradling the infant, the woodcutter finally departs from Rashomon, not exactly an honest man, but a man doing his best to support and care for the ones he loves. As we track away from the decaying gate, the sun burns through the clouds and warms the stunned, hopeful face of the woodcutter.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Akira Kurosawa
  • Cinematography by Kazuo Miyagawa
  • Production Design by Takashi Matsuyama

The Stinger

“Rashomon Final Movement” by Fumio Hayasaka


18. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Indiana Jones Last Crusade Final Shot

The Shot

Sometimes you want an ambiguous final shot that leaves you soaking in existential malaise — and other times you want to see your heroes ride off into the sunset. The Jones’, Marcus and Sallah in tow, escape the temple and crack wise, galloping off across the desert as the credits roll. Does it get any better? It’s the cinematic equivalent of chicken soup.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Steven Spielberg
  • Cinematography by Douglas Slocombe
  • Stunts Coordinated by Vic Armstrong

The Stinger

“Indiana Jones Theme” by John Williams


17. The 400 Blows (1959)

Blows Final Shot

The Shot

In 400 Blows’ final scene, Antoine (Jean-Pierre Leaud) escapes juvie and heads to the sea. Water past his ankles, he turns to face the camera, which locks onto his gaze. For Leaud (who Truffaut simply told to “run towards the sea and turn around”) the shot is writ with mystery, that one may interpret as they wish. Antoine’s mother said he wanted to see the beach, but he’s there, now what? One chapter ends and another begins; life goes on. If that’s not a fitting end to a coming-of-age flick, I don’t know what is.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by François Truffaut
  • Cinematography by Henri Decaë
  • Edited by Marie-Josèphe Yoyotte

The Stinger

“Trinite et Finale” by Jean Constantin


16. Psycho (1960)

Psycho Final Shot

The Shot

While the expositional ramblings were probably best left on the cutting room floor, Psycho’s concluding police station scene had one boon: a final moment with Norman…and his mom. The camera gingerly approaches our killer, engulfed like a child in an oversized blanket, and the extent of his madness is revealed slowly through narration. His mother has crawled inside his mind; the two, collided into something dangerous and perverse. Convinced of his mother’s innocence, Norman’s face twists into a grin — which Hitchcock hellishly overlays with Norma’s mummified skull.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Alfred Hitchcock
  • Cinematography by John L. Russell
  • Performance by Anthony Perkins

The Stinger

“Finale,” by Bernard Herrmann


15. Do The Right Thing (1989)

Final Shots Do The Right Thing

The Shot

Counting the pizza grease-coated bills owed to him by his employer, Mookie (Spike Lee) makes his way home through the wreckage of his neighborhood. As the shot pans up into a static wide-view of the block, the charred pizza parlor appears as a smoldering crater in the warm glow of day. In spite of last night’s violence, the community persists; the heatwave continues, friends play basketball, and the local radio DJ dedicates the next record to Radio Raheem, killed in the riots by a police officer.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Spike Lee
  • Cinematography by Ernest R. Dickerson
  • Production Design by Wynn Thomas

The Stinger

Two quotations, from Martin Luther King and one by Malcolm X., expressing different views on racial injustice and violence.


14. The Graduate (1967)

The Graduate Final Scene

The Shot

After a big spontaneous “leave your fiancé at the altar for me” hurrah, Benjamin and Elaine hop on a bus and ride off to the sunset. Only, it doesn’t take long for their impulsive romantic gesture to run out of steam; for their grins to fade, and eyes to glaze over. As the pair sobers up to the consequences of their desperate bid at feeling something we come to the same horrible realization: that the cure for numbness doesn’t have a quick fix.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Mike Nichols
  • Cinematography by Robert Surtees
  • Performances by Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross

The Stinger

“The Sound of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel


13. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Final Shots Invasion Of The Body Snatchers

The Shot

Look, we deemed Donald Sutherland’s agape, shrieking maw the best final shot in the horror genre for a reason. After passing out under a dock, pursued by assimilating plant-like aliens, Matthew (Sutherland) passes out. When we join him again, he appears to be suppressing his emotions and pretending to be a pod-person. An old friend, still human and somehow still surviving, spots him. But her relief quickly sours as Matthew reveals to her, and to us, that he isn’t, in fact, Mathew. They got him too.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Philip Kaufman
  • Cinematography by Michael Chapman
  • Special Sound Effects Created by Ben Burtt

The Stinger

The sweet, sweet sounds of Donald Sutherland screaming


12. Fist of Fury (1972)

Final Shots First Of Fury

The Shot

Having finally brought justice against those who murdered his master, Bruce Lee’s Chen Zhen exits the dojo where a firing squad greets him. As they squeeze their triggers, Chen screams and propels himself down the walkway. The guns fire, but Chen is in the air, lunging feet first toward the camera. The image freezes and explosions erupt, but we never see a bullet touch Lee’s body. Fist of Fury’s final statement is not Chen’s death but his defiance. The person may leave us, but the spirit will thrive in his students and admirers. We never witness that kick land, but we feel it plunge deep into our being.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Wei Lo
  • Cinematography by Ching-Chu Chen
  • Art Direction by Hsin Chien

The Stinger

“Fist of Fury Main Theme” by Joseph Koo


11. Stalker (1979)

Stalker Final Shot

The Shot

Stalker doesn’t have time for tidy, back-patting conclusions. And so, true to form, the final shot doubles down on its unnerving thematic meld of sci-fi/philosophic-psycho drama. Our spiritually wounded protagonist has abandoned his beliefs, and so we turn to his potentially mutated daughter. She stares absently at a glass. What follows next is either the result of the passing train or a bonafide miracle: the glass moves. And there it is: this mundane thing, imbued with magic.

The Talent Behind It

  • Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky
  • Cinematography by Aleksandr Knyazhinskiy and Georgi Rerberg
  • Sound by Vladimir Sharun

The Stinger

The rumbling of a train.


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