Thresholds and Boundaries

  • Michael Walker


Most films end at a threshold or boundary, as in the familiar examples of weddings, deaths and funerals. But thresholds and boundaries also extend to (a) the places where endings typically occur, such as doorways, points of departure (railway stations, airports) and watersides and (b) significant times when endings may occur, such as sunset, sunrise, Christmas and the New Year. To illustrate the prevalence and diversity of thresholds and boundaries, the endings of six of the first seven films voted in the 2012 Sight & Sound poll as ‘the greatest films ever made’ are examined. Other liminal sites frequently found in film endings—e.g. bridges, frontiers, hospitals and gravesides—are summarised. Finally, a selection of station endings from different periods and countries are looked at in more detail.


  1. Architecture of the Imagination: Bridges (BBC2 TV series tx 20/8/1993).Google Scholar
  2. Bordwell, David. 2008. Poetics of Cinema. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Bordwell, David, Janet Staiger, and Kristin Thompson. [1985] 1988. The Classical Hollywood Cinema: Film Style & Mode of Production to 1960. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  4. Chaluja, Elias, Sebastian Schadhauser, and Gianna Magrone. [1970] 2000. A Conversation with Bernardo Bertolucci. In Bernardo Bertolucci Interviews, ed. Fabian S. Gerard, T. Jefferson Kline, and Bruce Sklarew. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi.Google Scholar
  5. Clarke, Arthur C. 1968. 2001: A Space Odyssey. London: Arrow Books.Google Scholar
  6. Elsaesser, Thomas, and Malte Hagener. 2010. Film Theory: An Introduction Through the Senses. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Fuller, Graham. 2012. Endings: The Searchers. Sight & Sound (NS) 22 (11, November): 128.Google Scholar
  8. Mulvey, Laura. 1992. Citizen Kane. London: British Film Institute.Google Scholar
  9. Mulvey, Laura. 2006. Death 24x a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image. London: Reaktion Books.Google Scholar
  10. Perkins, V.F. 2012. La Règle du Jeu. London: BFI/Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
  11. Sight & Sound (NS). 2012. The Greatest Films of All Time: Critics’ Poll, 22 (9, September): 40–56.Google Scholar
  12. Sturges, Preston. 1985. Five Screenplays, ed. Brian Henderson. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  13. Walker, Michael. 2006–07. Hitchcockian Narrative: A Provisional Structural Model. In Hitchcock Annual, vol. 15, 122–163.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Walker
    • 1
  1. 1.LondonUK

Personalised recommendations