Happy End

Happy End ★★★

Another shockingly underseen and unknown film from the '60s. Happy End takes the depressing story of a murderer who gets executed via guillotine and puts an ironic spin on it by showing his entire life story in reverse. So, a man whose life gradually gets worse and worse is mirrored into someone whose life gets better and better. The dialogues and situations are cleverly written and absolutely hilarious, and overall the technical skills required to pull something like this off are on a very high level.

The movie just barely misses being a favorite of mine simply because it doesn't do much on a pure emotional level, but I have to disagree with the common complaint that the film is shallow and lacks substance. In fact, it's really darkly funny and compelling how the quirky surface of this comedy masks its, intentional or unintentional, message that life consists solely of detoriation. In Happy End, butchers revive meat into cows, a murder victim comes alive after being re-assembled with a cleaver and the protagonist experiences the peak of his life when finally entering into childhood, a period of play and bliss, at the end of his life. But I also can't agree with the film's assumption that childhood and infanthood is "happy end"; it just sounds terrifying, slowly losing your memory and cognition like that, it's like Alzheimer's syndrome.

The story is possibly inspired by a conceptually very similar segment from The Parallel Street (1962) by Ferdinand Khittl.

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