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Surprise Parties

What is the No. 1 twist ending in film history? Owen Gleiberman answers reader questions

Planet of the Apes (Movie - 2001) | WOW, NO LINES! Despite ''The Village,'' Shyamalan has still made some good movies with some great surprise endings
Image credit: Planet of the Apes: TM & © 20th Century Film Corp/Courtesy Everett Collection
WOW, NO LINES! Despite ''The Village,'' Shyamalan has still made some good movies with some great surprise endings

What is the No. 1 twist ending in film history?

What do you think is the No. 1 twist ending in film history? --Reynolds
Why, the big revelation in ''The Village,'' of course. (I'm kidding.) Reading your question, I assumed that I'd come up with dozens of pull-the-rug-out-from-under-you shockers comparable to the ones in M. Night Shyamalan's films. But Shyamalan's key influence, it turns out, really is TV's ''The Twilight Zone.'' A great twist forces us to go back and reassemble the entire drama we've been watching, and few films outside of ''The Sixth Sense'' have brought that off with anything approaching Rod Serling's finesse. There's ''Angel Heart,'' in which Mickey Rourke discovers he's much closer to the killer he's looking for than he thought. And also ''Citizen Kane'': The explanation of ''Rosebud'' may be the twist we know is coming, but that doesn't stop it from turning your head around. The all-time great one, though, remains the final moments of ''Planet of the Apes,'' in which Charlton Heston, crumpled before the Statue of Liberty (''Damn you all to hell!''), learns that he can, to his dismay, go home again. (The script? By Rod Serling.)

(Got a movie-related question for Lisa or Owen? Post it here.)

Originally posted Sep 10, 2004 Published in issue #782-783 Sep 10, 2004 Order article reprints
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