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What Does It Mean When a Film Fades to White?

In a new supercut, Jacob T Swinney analyzes the cinematic technique through the ambiguous final frames of ‘Black Swan,’ ‘Lord of the Rings,’ and more.
April 14, 2015, 5:30pm
Black Swan. GIFS via

When a film ends and the screen fades to black, the story ends with a certain irrefutable finality. When filmmakers invert the norm, however, and end on a wash of white, what follows can be wholly enigmatic. In his latest supercut, Fade to White, filmmaker Jacob T. Swinney, who in the past analyzed film endings previously with his First and Final Frames supercut, compiles the bleached-out conclusions of thirty-one films, investigating the effects of this unconventional transition.

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“What does it mean when a film fades to white?” Swinney postulates in his new video’s description. “When a film ends with the more traditional fade to black, there tends to be a sense of closure. On the other hand, ending with the much less common fade to white seems to create a sense of ambiguity.”

So is it representative of death, or a new beginning? What do you think? Watch Fade to White, and then let us know in the comments below:

Fade to White from Jacob T. Swinney on Vimeo.

Watch more of Jacob Swinney's work on Vimeo.

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