Whiplash Movie Ending Explained

Whiplash” Gets Jazz All Wrong | The New Yorker

This will be a short one but I remember discussing this at Ben’s housewarming party. It’s a movie that was recently free on YouTube and I watched it again. The first time I saw this movie I thought the ending was left ambiguous (or rather maybe I remembered it that way?). The way the lead character and his music teacher are constantly struggling it’s almost like you’re never truly believing if the main character is a GREAT drummer or not (like he wants to be). Certainly the main character is good, but is he great? The true test according to the movie is that a GREAT drummer would be able to undergo anything and still be great. Like, if you put a piece of metal in fire, the fire might burn away some other stuff but the metal will remain. That’s the point of the movie and that’s what the main character wants. At the end it seems like they are still messing with each other but watching it again it’s pretty obvious that’s not the case.

Close to the very end the lead character is humiliated and is going to give up drumming (again) but then before walking away to be comforted by his dad he goes back on stage. The lead character starts taking over, giving others in the band orders, and basically screws up the program. The music teacher at first is antagonistic and seems shocked “what are you doing? you’re done, you’ll never work again” type of comments but being a showman he doesn’t stop things because the audience still is watching. The lead character continues stealing the show but then toward the very very end you can tell that the music teacher is recognizing (maybe for the first time in the movie) that the lead character is going above and beyond all expectations. He’s a master of his craft. It might be that there’s a further scene in the movie where the teacher is like “no, you blew it” but I doubt it. At the very end the lead character is rocking out an amazing solo and the teacher is guiding him, not in a forceful/commanding way, but more as a friend or just an advisor, bringing out the obvious talent. The lead character again exceeds all expectations and in the very end the teacher smiles.

That’s the ending, it’s happy. The student and the teacher both recognize (and the teacher smiles genuinely) that the lead character is, after all this hard work and dedication, a true genius talent of drums.

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