HomeMovies'The Whale' Ending Explained: Does Brandon Fraser's Character Die?

    ‘The Whale’ Ending Explained: Does Brandon Fraser’s Character Die?

    Most Oscar-nominated films this year didn’t fare well at the box office. This is the year time of independent oddities like ‘Everything Everywhere All at Once’ and ‘The Whale.’ Both movies have risen above the stigma of ‘art house’ cinema by making incredible banks. At the same time, these movies are speaking to the audience in a way that is missing in today’s hoaky blockbuster cinema. The Whale with Brendan Fraser has got people talking.

    Under the lens of the woke, the film is rife for discourse. But there’s no denying how phenomenal Brendan Fraser is in ‘The Whale.’ In his career-best performance, he brings forth compassion seldom seen. Fraser is captivating, giving a performance you can never walk away for. Director Darren Aronofsky mounts a sensational production, leaving the audience awe-struck with that lightning bolt of a finale. Did it stump you too? Fear not; we have answers.

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    ‘The Whale’ Is A Story Of Isolated Grief

    Charlie (Brendan Fraser) is at the end of his rope.

    Darren Aronofsky’s ‘The Whale‘ opens with a few creative writing students gawking at the tiny black square. They seem to talk to a void, as the professor refuses to turn the webcam on. We turn away from these budding wordsmiths and close on a tiny black square in the middle. Heart of darkness, literally. But that’s not the novel that becomes the point of happenings. Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick‘ has a towering presence in ‘The Whale.’

    Charlie (Brendan Fraser) is a mammoth of a man. He’s 600 pounds of walking dead, living on borrowed time. In the final week of his life, he intends to make things right with the daughter he walked out on. There’s regret and rage in his heart that only momentarily settles down with food. Even his moments of joy- that genuine and hearty laugh, turn into wheezing fits. He sends no wires to the world outside or shares many relationships with it, planting himself forever in the dark and musty apartment.

    The orthodox tenets of religion leave Charlie and the love of his life living in shame. Charlie becomes isolated in his grief. He situates himself on the fringes of a nowhere town. While talking to his daughter Ellie (Sadie Sink), he admits how the death of someone close to him manifested in him becoming bloated—his self-loathing manifests into overeating, a precursor to a deeper depression.

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    Charlie Finds Forgiveness At The End Of His Life

    Charlie (Brendan Fraser) and Ellie (Sadie Sink) in ‘The Whale’

    Moby Dick‘ is a piece of literature of supreme importance to him. Whenever he is one step closer to death, he seeks shelter in a brutal analysis of Melville’s masterpiece. This essay that Ellie has written becomes a dying man’s prayer. Perhaps Charlie’s obsession with it exists to purge himself of shame, similar to his reckless eating. Like the essay, Charlie’s past life is a beautiful story. His present is a sad reality he keeps going on about to take his mind from an impressionistic memory.

    The Whale‘ by Darren Aronofsky is about dads and daughters, friends and family, and religion and rage. But ultimately, it is a story of hope. While Charlie is no follower of God, he is a believer in divinity. He is unceasing in his belief that people are good and has a boundless affinity for them, even for Ellie, Satan’s spawn. He keeps counting on her innate goodness no matter how many doors she slams and brawls she causes.

    In his final moments, it is ‘Moby Dick’ that brings them together as he cites her unrefined literary critique as the most real peace of writing he came across. At this moment, the daughter lets her anger go and finally breaks down. Charlie, unable to stand on his two feet earlier in the film and walk to her daughter, finally does so. As Ellie reads Charlie’s emotional support ‘Moby Dick’ essay, he finds immense strength in the power of absolvement.

    As he walks over to her and surrounds her with a gigantic embrace, all the sorrows that weigh him down disappear. Charlie levitates, surrounded by the great white light of divinity. As his life flashes in front of him, the moment that comes to him is the time he spent on a beach with a much younger Ellie. Salvation comes to the man who needs it, finally killing the whale inside.

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    Shaurya Thakur
    Shaurya Thakur
    Shaurya Thakur is a Content Writer at First Curiosity, who, in his personal time, is writing the greatest "overcoming post-academic slump existential crises" story. His current obsessions are John Cassavetes and Jack Kerouac; musically, he belongs to Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand.

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