Pleasantville - didn't get the ending... (Unboxed Spoilers)

I saw Pleasantville for the first time the other day - it has been screened on UK terrestrial TV before and I’d been meaning to catch it for a while, but just missed it until now.

I quite enjoyed it as a piece of entertainment and an allegory, but the very last scene left me puzzled - Betty is sitting on a park bench with George (who now appears to have come to terms with the changes in his life), the camera pans to Betty, then back and George is gone, replaced by Jeff. WTF is supposed to have happened there? did George walk away and Jeff sat down, or did George turn into Jeff, and if so, why?

Sorry, I mean Bill, not Jeff - Jeff Daniels is the actor’s IRL name.

I think it was meant to show that nothing had been decided and that there was no right decision that could be made. When you leave the grey world of certainty, you get color, but you also get situations where there is no right choice possible. You have to put up with the pain if you want the color.

You are taking the scene too literally. It’s supposed to represent the choices these characters have to make and not a particular tag-team conversation.

I took it precisely the opposite way: something had been decided. Betty is leaving George for Bill. It is the “right” decision: for Betty and Bill. The unfortunate side effect of Pleasantville now being a “real” world is that there are no longer any “right” decisions that are right for everybody. Sometimes the right decision hurts almost as much as the wrong one.

And, like Gamaliel said, the scene isn’t to be taken as a literal chain of events, but as a symbolic wrapping up of those three character’s stories.

If you’ve got the DVD, check out the extras: there’s a video for the song that plays over that scene, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. Great song, great video.

I think George is still sitting there. In my memory, the camera pans right to George, back to Betty then left to Jeff. They are all still on the bench.

I have seen that scene on two occasions. Did I get it totally wrong twice?

Yep, you did.

I didn’t want to rely on my memory for various pharmacological reasons, so I popped in the DVD.

The scene starts with George and Betty sitting on a park bench. George is next to the armrest, and is in the center of the screen, Betty is to his left (screen right). The far right end of the bench isn’t visible. George asks, “So what’s going to happen now?” Betty replies, “I don’t know. Do you know what’s going to happen now?”

Cut to a close up of George’s face, so neither Betty nor the bench is visible. He says, “No, I don’t,” with a laugh, and turns to look at Betty. The camera pans right to Betty, who is looking back at George and laughing with him. She looks toward the camera, then looks back to the left again. The camera pans back left, but instead of George, it’s Bill, who says “I guess I don’t, either.”

Credits roll.