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At the end of the movie, adult Jack (Sean Penn) wanders through a wasteland, goes through a doorway and ends up on a beach. There he shares the screen with his father (Brad Pitt) and Mrs. O’Brien (Jessica Chastain) concedes her son (presumably R.L.) to the higher power.

What does the ending mean?

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2 Answers 2

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The meaning, as far as I can tell, is that we are connected to our family even in death or at the end of the world. We have to take a leap, perhaps through "the doorway," to get over our doubts about the afterlife. The doorway is the transition from earthly skepticism of the permanence of the soul to an end where we are all -- consciously or unconsciously -- tied together to those with whom we shared life.

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My interpretation is that we have to take into consideration the other symbols that the director had been placing before us throughout the movie: the forces of such grand scale that dwarf our lives and our attempts to make sense of them. The beach is the connection between the water, the earth, and the heavens, and what we're seeing is a visual interpretation of the meeting point where our lives are intersecting with these greater forces, showing us and how we fit in the bigger picture. To me, it's a very naturalist, non-religious vision.

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