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Historical Movies You Most Want To Change The Ending Of 

Jordan Breeding
Updated January 20, 2019 861 votes 226 voters 5.9k views 12 items

List Rules Vote up the alternate endings you want to put into the film right away.

Generally speaking, historical movies do their best to recreate what occurred in real life. It's no surprise Titanic and Schindler's List are tearjerkers, as they derive from depressing moments in history. At the same time, however, many of these films edit or distort history to create what the filmmakers believe is a better film. Sometimes they may succeed in creating lasting, memorable art, but other times, they miss the mark with the worst movie endings in history.

Now, granted, many historical films are still fantastic despite downer endings, but this doesn't mean we couldn't spice them up to make them more satisfying. After all, these are movies, not history books. How might audiences have reacted to Rose being willing to share the door with Jack in Titanic? How would we have felt if the astronauts from Apollo 13 still managed to land on the moon? These alternative endings could have ruined the films - or perhaps made them better.

Feel free to present these ideas to Ron Howard, James Cameron, or other big-name directors you happen to know personally - maybe they'll create an enjoyable director's cut.

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The Last Samurai is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Historical Movies You Most Want To Change The Ending Of
Photo:  Warner Bros.

The Real Ending: 

The Imperial Army marches on the rebellion, using advanced technology and numbers to crush the samurai. Despite a hard-fought battle, Captain Nathan Algren and Lord Moritsugu Katsumoto both sustain serious injuries; Algren helps Katsumoto kill himself to evade capture. Ultimately, Algren survives and convinces the emperor to maintain ancient traditions and reject an unfavorable deal with China.

The Better Ending: 

There are two ways to improve this - and neither involves the white savior trope. Arguably the film's biggest issue is that Algren becomes the hero at the expense of the actual samurai. Katsumoto should ultimately survive the battle - possibly against his will, so his honor remains untarnished. In addition, Katsumoto should be the one to convince the emperor to refuse the deal with China.

Algren could have instead sacrificed himself for the one thing in this world that he truly believed in and revered. Alternatively, Algren could have survived, too, if necessary.

Either way, the real leader of the samurai should be the film's ultimate hero, not the white savior who appeared only a few months prior and decided to play with katanas.

Is this a better ending?
Spotlight is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Historical Movies You Most Want To Change The Ending Of
Photo:  Global Road Entertainment

The Real Ending: 

The journalists publish their findings and go public with the story. After years of researching abuses in the Catholic Church, they were ready to state their case. That next morning, they become inundated with phone calls from all over the country with further evidence of other Catholic priests abusing their power.

The Better Ending: 

Additional real-life footage would have strengthened the film. Namely, audiences deserve to see the fallout from this story. Did those priests go to jail? Did the survivors finally find peace? Did the Catholic Church create lasting, fundamental change to their policies to ensure this type of thing would never happen again?

In the real world, the issues were complicated, but as viewers, we want to see the story's impact on the people who lived through it. It's encouraging to know that others had the courage to speak out about what happened to them, but it'd be great if we also saw more villains take the fall.

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Enemy at the Gates is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Historical Movies You Most Want To Change The Ending Of
Photo:  Paramount Pictures

The Real Ending: 

Russian sniper Vasily Zaytsev kills the evil German sniper named Major Erwin König, thanks to Commisar Danilov's sacrifice. Just two months later, the city of Stalingrad gets liberated and the Germans retreat. Zaytsev also reunites with his former lover, Tania Chernova, in a hospital.

The Better Ending: 

Why did Danilov need to sacrifice himself? After so much time spent dueling, it's a big letdown for Zaytsev to defeat König with a basic trick. For all his flaws, Danilov didn't need to die, and audiences would have likely preferred to see Zaytsev best König in a straight-up battle. This would have proved more heroic and satisfying, giving Danilov a chance to redeem himself.

Is this a better ending?
Titanic is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Historical Movies You Most Want To Change The Ending Of
Photo:  Paramount Pictures

The Real Ending: 

The Titanic goes down, and many passengers perish. Rose survives hypothermia by staying on a large, floating door, while her newfound lover, Jack, freezes to death in the water. Many years later, she still remembers her fling with Jack and how much she loved him.

The Better Ending:

They should have both died. Yes, it would be tragic for Jack and Rose to have both succumbed to the waters, but it's way sketchier for Rose to survive while her so-called love passes away next to her. If they were truly in love, they should have made sacrifices for each other - which means sharing the door. If it were too small for both of them, then they should have accepted their fate the way most lovers would: together.

Rose had the power to either save Jack or die, which would have given us a star-crossed lovers story much like Romeo and Juliet. Juliet had a clear choice of whether to live with or without her true love, and she decided on the latter. Meanwhile, Rose was more than happy to hog the door.  

Is this a better ending?