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Title: The final couple : happy endings in Hollywood cinema
Author: MacDowell, James
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis concerns a very common, yet surprisingly under-examined, concept: the Hollywood ‘happy ending’. Focusing on an aspect of this convention that I call the ‘final couple’ (i.e.: an ultimate romantic union), the study examines movies from throughout the history of popular American cinema in order to interrogate common critical assumptions about ‘happy endings’. Chapter 1 questions the existence of the homogenous norm the ‘happy ending’ by attempting to define it – a task more challenging than the convention’s reputation would have us believe. Chapter 2 looks at the relationship between ‘happy endings’ and closure, arguing that, while some films succeed in making their final couples feel emphatically ‘closed’, others use different strategies to render the same convention comparatively ‘open’. Chapter 3 examines the connection between ‘happy endings’ and ‘unrealism’, considering firstly the traditionally close conceptual relationship between the ‘happy ending’ and fiction tout court, before, secondly, exploring the ways in which the final couple relates to debates concerning the ‘openness’ of life and the ‘closed’ nature of narrative. Chapter 4 addresses the ideology of ‘happy endings’ by discussing (1) what potential the concept of the final couple might be said to have for structuring viewers’ real-life romantic relationships, (2) the ideological implications of closure, and (3) the different ideological meanings that a final couple can convey in what is often taken to be an innately ‘conservative’ genre, the romantic comedy. The results of my analyses suggest that ‘happy endings’ are as conducive to variation as any other artistic convention – a fact that has significant ramifications for our thinking about Hollywood conclusions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PN1993 Motion Pictures