30 Greatest Final Shots

The Blair Witch Project (1999)

The Final Shot: Having filmed their search for the Blair Witch, Heather enters the basement of an abandoned house in the forest and promptly drops the camera - which shows us Mike standing facing the corner, just as killer Parr's other victims had.

Cue full-body shivers.

If It Had Been The Opening Shot:
We would have been robbed of one of the most spine-tingling closing shots ever created.

Scarface (1983)

The Final Shot: Tony Montana (Al Pacino) has been transformed into a monster of a man by the end of this drug odyssey.

After one heck of a fire-powdered climax ("Say hello to my liddle friend!"), he ends up facedown in a fountain as we slowly pan back...

If It Had Been The Opening Shot:
Brian De Palma's film tracks Tony from wise-arse immigrant to drug kingpin, so opening the film with his death wouldn't exactly have left much room for storytelling or character development...

Citizen Kane (1941)

The Final Shot: As expected from director Orson Welles, the final shot in his first feature is all about gorgeous composition.

We've discovered what 'Rosebud' means, and as the sled burns in the basement furnace, we watch the smoke plume from the chimneys of the Kane estate...

If It Had Been The Opening Shot: It near enough is - after that gorgeous panning shot of a chain-link fence, Welles’ film opens with the same shot of the Kane residence, only minus the choking smoke...

The Graduate (1967)

The Final Shot: This may be the end of the film, but in just one shot, director Mike Nichols tells us this is just the beginning of the journey for young Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman).

Ben has just whisked Elaine (Katharine Ross) away from the altar, but when they get onto a bus, their looks of elation fade. The final shot is of the back of the bus disappearing down a road...

If It Had Been The Opening Shot: If they ever made a Graduate 2 , you can bet it would be.

Raging Bull (1980)

The Final Shot: Jake LaMotta (Robert De Niro) sits in front of a mirror in a dressing room. He's a swollen, overweight monstrosity, no longer the boxing champ of his heyday.

Having sat there practising a comedy routing, he starts chanting "I'm the boss", then leaves the room. And us.

If It Had Been The Opening Shot:
It is - hurrah!

Silence Of The Lambs (1991)

The Final Shot: Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) receives a phone call from Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins), who earlier managed to escape his imprisonment in typically bloody fashion.

Where is he now? Well, stalking evil Dr Chilton (Anthony Heald) in Bimini. We watch as he weaves into the crowd like a shark and disappears...

If It Had Been The Opening Shot:
It would have overbalanced the film. This people-packed closing shot is the opposite of the opening shots of a desolate wood where Clarice goes on a solitary jog.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

The Final Shot: As if director Stanley Kubrick's space saga isn't enough of a mind-f*ck, he closes out his film with that disturbing/weird/beautiful shot of a baby floating through space.

Er, what?

If It Had Been The Opening Shot: It would still have us resolutely scratching our heads. Seriously, what?!

Bicycle Thieves (1948)

The Final Shot: Possibly the most depressing ending to a film ever, as papa Antonio Ricci (Lamberto Maggiorani) and his son Bruno (Enzo Staiola) wander into a crowd holding back the tears.

You wanted a happy ending? DENIED.

If It Had Been The Opening Shot:
You probably would have turned it off within five minutes to save yourself the heartache.

The Searchers (1956)

The Final Shot: In one of the most iconic movie shots ever created, cowboy Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) leaves a homestead and wanders out into the sunlight clutching his arm.

The cabin door closes – both on the past and Ethan...

If It Had Been The Opening Shot:
It almost is - director John Ford mirrors the opening and closing shots, both set inside the homestead looking out.

Planet Of The Apes (1968)

The Final Shot: George Taylor (Charlton Heston) has been through monkey hell, first crash-landing on a planet of walking, talking apes, then subjected to all sorts of humiliation.

But in Apes ' devastating final shot, we discover that Taylor's been on Earth the whole time when he stumbles on a sunken, decrepit Statue Of Liberty. We're screaming right alongside him...

If It Had Been The Opening Shot: That's a pretty pivotal twist, so shoving it up front and centre would sort of defeat the purpose...

Josh Winning has worn a lot of hats over the years. Contributing Editor at Total Film, writer for SFX, and senior film writer at the Radio Times. Josh has also penned a novel about mysteries and monsters, is the co-host of a movie podcast, and has a library of pretty phenomenal stories from visiting some of the biggest TV and film sets in the world. He would also like you to know that he "lives for cat videos..." Don't we all, Josh. Don't we all.