At the very end of the film, the film skips ahead from the 1930s to 1952. Manny is guiding his young family through Hollywood after years away. Eventually, he makes a solo trip to a theater and captures, you guessed it, “Singin’ in the Rain.” Then something pretty strange happens. The movie Manny is watching suddenly turns into an expanded montage of clips from famous movies, including Journey to the Moon, The Wizard of Oz, Terminator 2, and even Avatar. Finally, the montage moves into simple colors. Critics are divided about the ending, to say the least.
Keen-eyed viewers might notice a shot that simply reads “Fin de Cinema.” It is a title card from the end of Jean-Luc Godard’s 1967 work Weekend. It is a revered black comedy about the horrors of consumerism and human indifference to suffering. Exactly what Godard was thinking when he used that last poster we’ll never know.
However, Chazelle may have given the audience a clue as to why he included it in the montage. In an exclusive interview with SlashFilm, Chazelle explained that he wanted the montage to show “the life cycle of cinema” because he feels movies always die and are reborn. In this respect, a poster with the translation “End of the cinema” in Chazelle’s final montage makes sense. The director clearly felt that Godard’s work had a place in the ongoing development of cinema. Whether or not there is a specific reason for placing the poster in Babylon, it is a beautiful salute to a true Master.