, Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar-winning sci-fi thriller from 2013, has a distinct, powerful ending. And if the studio had had its way, it would have been a bit less striking.
In the film as released, it ends with Sandra Bullock’s astronaut, finally made her way back to earth, crawling up from the ocean onto land. And that’s it—a quiet moment of salvation and rebirth, water to earth. It’s a strong ending for a powerful film. But according to Guillermo del Toro, the ending could have had some of that subtlety removed. Tweeting about Cuarón’s thematic interests, del Toro said:
The studio then said: "Ok what about hearing the helicopters?" Alfonso, once more, said "no". The studio then suggested adding a radio giving her coordinates, promising help. Alfonso said "no". Once more an ending made of Air, land and water.
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) January 14, 2019
And del Toro is right: that would have been a much weaker ending, thinning out the symbolism, making it too comforting, too much of a happy ending instead of a meaningful sigh of relief. Just goes to show: while, a lot of the time, the idea of studio production meddling in an artist’s vision is an often an oversimplification, it can happen. And good for us—and the film—that the director stuck to his guns.