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How do you interpret 'Orca' and other puzzling movie endings?

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Orcafinale_l

Orcafinale_lYes, I’m asking you about the ending of a movie released in 1977. But really, you should be thankful because the other issues I’m dealing with at the moment are: 1) Why did CBS cancel Secret Talents of the Stars before we got to see Young and the Restless star Joshua Morrow’s “edgy rock ‘n’ roll juggling” routine? (I was fully prepared to tune in to find out what made it “edgy.”) 2) Why do I feel as though I could crush on C. Thomas Howell if I were to let myself tune in to VH1’s Celebracadabra! later this month? 3) Did I like the shoes David Boreanaz was wearing this morning on Regis and Kelly? (They were awfully blue, but they did draw attention to his striped blue socks, which I appreciated.)

Right, so about Orca… Here’s the thing: I just watched it (for work!), and though I’ve seen it before, I don’t think I ever fully grasped the ending. As you recall, the killer whale wants vengeance against Captain Nolan (Richard Harris), the man who murdered his mate and unborn baby-whale, and lures his boat into icy waters. After the whale kills everyone onboard but Charlotte Rampling, the movie ends with shots of Orca swimming underneath thick layers of ice (above). Now Nolan pointed out earlier in the film that the ice would cut both ways: It could sink his boat, but it’d also make it difficult for the whale to get to the surface for air. So, I ask you: Was that just a beautiful parting shot, or are we supposed to believe that the whale dies, too? I’m going with the latter, because the whole film was about the bond between Nolan and the Orca (Nolan’s wife and unborn child were killed by a drunk driver on the way to the hospital). And the whale was driven insane with grief, like Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon, only with no Danny Glover to talk him down. Also, the whale had to die for biting off Bo Derek’s leg, right? It seems obvious when I type it out now, but then you also recall the serious smackdown that Orca gave a Great White shark earlier in the film, and that it broke through the ice several times after Nolan abandoned ship. Does he live or die?

If you’re still reading (God bless you), and there’s another movie ending that’s puzzled you, post it in the comments section below. Maybe someone can help you out, too.