When I first watched “The Neon Demon,” directed by Nicolas Winding Refn, I was captivated by its visually stunning aesthetics and thought-provoking narrative. However, it was the ending that left me both perplexed and intrigued. In this article, I aim to unravel the mysteries surrounding the conclusion of the film while delving into its deeper meanings and interpretations.
Setting the Stage: Plot Summary
Before we delve into the ending, let’s set the stage with a brief summary of the movie. “The Neon Demon” follows the story of Jesse (played by Elle Fanning), an aspiring young model who arrives in Los Angeles with dreams of stardom. She quickly becomes the center of attention in the fashion industry, attracting jealousy and obsession from her fellow models.
Unveiling the Ending
The ending of “The Neon Demon” is a culmination of intense and surreal moments that leave the audience questioning the reality depicted on the screen. In the final scenes, we witness Jesse’s transformation from an innocent newcomer to a captivating and otherworldly figure. The sequence is filled with vivid imagery, dreamlike sequences, and metaphorical elements, blurring the line between reality and fantasy.
Finally, she is killed by Ruby, Gigi, and Sarah. They pursue Jesse with knives and trap her. Ruby shoves her into an empty swimming pool, causing fatal injuries. They then proceed to consume Jesse in a ritualistic manner and bathe in her blood. Later, Ruby is seen lying under the moonlight and experiencing what appears to be a bloody ejaculation. The significance of this scene will be explained shortly.
The following day, Sarah accompanies Gigi to her photoshoot. Upon seeing Sarah, the photographer replaces one of the models with her. Gigi is unable to cope with the fact that they consumed Jesse and regurgitates an eye. In a desperate attempt to expel the remaining parts of Jesse, she stabs her stomach and dies. Sarah watches without any emotional response and consumes Jesse’s eye before returning to the photoshoot.
Interpretation 1: Beauty Obsession and Destruction
One possible interpretation of the ending revolves around the theme of beauty and its destructive consequences. Throughout the film, we witness characters going to extreme lengths to preserve their youthful appearance and remain relevant in the fashion industry. The ending serves as a commentary on society’s obsession with physical beauty and the dark consequences that can arise from it.
Jesse was a young and inexperienced girl who achieved success too quickly. She let it get to her head and became narcissistic, thinking everyone wanted to be her. While it helped her get gigs at first, it eventually turned people off, even those who were initially interested in her. As a result, her arrogance consumed her, and she was destroyed emotionally by her enemies. In the dream, the blood-bath scene symbolized the emotional wounds she suffered.
In The Neon Demon, we see men portrayed as predators, but it’s ultimately the women who prey on Jesse. The moonlight scene with Ruby represents the start of a new cycle, where another newcomer will rise or fall like Jesse. The rise and fall of models is cyclic, just like the moon’s cycle. Jesse once thought the moon looked like an eye when she was young and wondered if it saw her. The all-seeing eye saw her rise and fall, and menstruation, which is cyclic, evicts old eggs to make way for new ones.
Interpretation 2: Transformation and the Loss of Innocence
Another compelling interpretation of the ending centers around the concept of transformation and the loss of innocence. As Jesse undergoes her journey in the fashion industry, she undergoes a profound metamorphosis both physically and mentally. The ending can be seen as a culmination of her transformation, where she sheds her former self and embraces a darker, more alluring persona. This transformation highlights the loss of innocence and the compromises one might make to succeed in a cutthroat industry.
Symbolism plays a crucial role in conveying this interpretation. Throughout the film, we encounter recurring motifs such as mirrors, triangles, and predatory animals, each representing different aspects of Jesse’s journey. The ending, with its surreal and symbolic visuals, reinforces the idea of a profound transformation and the sacrifices that come with it.
Interpretation 3: The Dark Side of the Fashion Industry
“The Neon Demon” also offers a scathing critique of the fashion industry and its exploitative nature. The ending serves as a stark reminder of the dark underbelly that lurks beneath the glamorous façade.
By showcasing the extreme measures individuals are willing to take for fame and success, the film exposes the toxic nature of an industry that thrives on exploitation, competition, and the objectification of bodies.
Exploring Director’s Intentions
To gain further insights into the ending, it is crucial to consider the director’s intentions. Nicolas Winding Refn has stated that he deliberately wanted to create a film that provokes strong emotions and leaves room for individual interpretation.
By crafting an ending that is open-ended and subject to multiple explanations, he encourages audiences to engage in discussions and form their own conclusions.
Impact and Reception
Upon its release, “The Neon Demon” polarized both critics and audiences. While some praised its audacious visuals and thought-provoking narrative, others criticized its self-indulgence and excessive stylization. Nevertheless, the film undeniably left a lasting impression, with its ending being a significant topic of discussion among viewers.
In conclusion, the ending of “The Neon Demon” is a multifaceted and thought-provoking culmination of the film’s themes and narrative. Its open-ended nature allows for various interpretations, ranging from societal critiques to personal transformations. Through symbolism, visual imagery, and provocative storytelling, the film challenges our perceptions of beauty, the fashion industry, and the lengths people go to achieve success.
- What is the significance of the triangle motif in “The Neon Demon”? The triangle motif in “The Neon Demon” represents the power dynamics, jealousy, and competition among the characters. It symbolizes the constant struggle for dominance and serves as a visual metaphor for the characters’ ambition and desire to climb the social ladder.
- Does the film have a deeper meaning beyond the surface-level plot? Yes, “The Neon Demon” delves into deeper themes such as the destructive nature of beauty obsession, the loss of innocence, and the dark side of the fashion industry. It invites viewers to reflect on societal values, personal transformations, and the consequences of pursuing fame and success.
- Are there any hidden symbols or Easter eggs in the movie? “The Neon Demon” is rich in symbolism and metaphorical elements. From mirrors representing self-reflection to predatory animals symbolizing the dangers within the industry, the film is filled with hidden symbols and Easter eggs. Paying close attention to these symbols adds another layer of depth to the viewing experience and enhances the understanding of the film’s themes and messages.
- How does the ending tie into the overall themes of the film? The ending of “The Neon Demon” is intricately woven into the film’s overarching themes. It encapsulates the destructive nature of beauty obsession, the transformation and loss of innocence experienced by the protagonist, and the dark underbelly of the fashion industry. The surreal and symbolic visuals in the ending serve as a powerful culmination of these themes, leaving a lasting impact on the audience.
- Did the director leave the ending intentionally open to interpretation? Yes, Nicolas Winding Refn deliberately crafted an open-ended ending for “The Neon Demon.” By doing so, he invites viewers to engage in discussions, share their interpretations, and actively participate in the film’s meaning-making process. The intentional ambiguity allows for personal connections and varied perspectives, making the ending a subject of fascination and debate among audiences.