What You Don't Need to See
William Goldman, in Adventures in the Screen Trade has a whole rant about the end of NBNW. About the end: it's a literal cliffhanger: Cary Grant is reaching to save his love interest, Eva Marie Saint, who is hanging off the face of Mt. Rushmore(!); a nasty spy has just grabbed the tschostke which contains vital microfilm, and is about to step on Grant's hand, sending him and Eva Marie plummetting. Meanwhile, the mastermind of the whole evil plan is just waiting to be reunited with the microfilm and then he's going to flee the country and menace America with the data. How long does it take to save Grant and the goil and America? And marry off Grant and Eva Marie and send them on their honeymoon? 43 seconds total.
A shot rings out, the spy drops to the ground, the tschotske breaks open disclosing the microfilm, there's a shot of the American forces--one sharpshooter who has clearly taken out the spy, plus a few others including the American spymaster--arresting the mastermind. Cary Grant has gotten a firmer handhold and is reaching to Eva Marie. She keeps saying, I can't; he keeps saying she can. Finally he says, "Come on, Mrs. Thornhill!" (Grant's character is Roger Thornhill). He pulls her up--into the upper berth of a sleeper car. They kiss, and in one of those heavyhanded 50s Freudian moments, their train goes into a tunnel, and THE END comes up.
What didn't we need to see there? Pretty much anything else. What, more James Mason spitting his defiance at the world? Cary Grant pulling Saint up, dusting off his clothes, and handing the microfilm over to the authorities? The wedding ceremony? Goldman says "I don't know of a more adroit ending to a film." Well, maybe. But he's certainly right that you don't need to see all that other stuff.
So, I was also watching HP3 with Younger Girl, and managed to sum up, to my own satisfaction, why it is far superior to the first two films. Again, toward the end, Harry and Hermione have gone back into time, saved Buckbeak the hippogriff, faced down dementors, and, flying on Buckbeak, head off to spring Sirius Black from prison. Buckbeak lands on top of a high tower where Black is imprisoned. They open the prison door, Black looks up, and the next thing you see is the three of them, Harry, Sirius, and Hermione, soaring away on Buckbeak. Similarly, the film ends, still at Hogwarts, with Harry getting a new high-tech broom and flying off into the air joyously.
What don't you see? Black greeting them with relief; Harry formally introducing Black to Buckbeak (hippogriffs are sticklers for protocol), all of them getting on to the hippogriff and flying away. And, at the end, the obligatory Everyone Gets off the Train in London scene (it works fine in the book) which has already been the finish of the last two HP films. The first two films, directed by Chris Columbus (of whose work I am not a fan) dwelled with stultifying literalness over every single scene in the books. Alfonso Cuaron, who directed HP3, cut some bits here and there--but the film moves where it should, and he tucks all sorts of details in the background without stopping to linger.
So now I'm on a mission to notice what does and doesn't need to be in the books I'm reading and the movies I'm seeing. In the hope, of course, that I can learn to leave out the things that don't need to be there in my own work.