Spoiler warning: This video and article cover the final scene of “Don’t Look Up”
A film editor for 30 years, Hank Corwin won his third Oscar nomination this week. All have been for comedies (albeit evil, dark comedies) directed by Adam McKay: “The Big Short”, “Vice” and now “Don’t Look Up”. If Corwin were to win at the Academy Awards on March 27, it would be the first comedy to land a trophy in that category since “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” in 1988.
“It’s pretty meaningful to me,” Corwin said in the exclusive video above, of the film’s final six minutes, during which a giant comet crashes into earth. “With every movie I do, I try to put a bit of myself in. This movie more than most. It was about such gigantic and tiny moments. I love it.”
Corwin isn’t kidding when he talked about putting a part of himself into the film. The heart of the film’s ending is a low-key Thanksgiving-style dinner between the main characters played by Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio, but the scene then turns into a montage of life moments from around the world: a rooftop orgy, whales in the ocean, a person waiting for the subway.
And a wedding video. “Adam had filmed an older couple watching their wedding video and I was able to put my wedding video (into the film),” Corwin said, adding proudly that a guitar-wielding Elvis impersonator is present in the pixelated camcorder photo.
“I love the contextualization,” he said. “And I like how Adam thought about that.”
In his shot-by-shot exposition of the scene, Corwin also commented on the great spiritual and philosophical message the final scene sends.
“You have people watching in wonder and terror and realizing there is a fatality to what is happening. The nature of what I was doing was juxtaposition. For me, it’s very pure film editing. It’s the ultimate cinematic montage. I’m also trying to make these changes emotionally, so you have faith, you have complete cynicism.
He added: “It’s not even a scene – it’s a sweep, made up of emotional fragments. I wanted to invade brain chemistry. I wanted to poke people in the eye a little bit. Just to make certain thoughts more resonant.
For more on the final scene of “Don’t Look Up,” including the use of music and the reasons for the random freeze frames Corwin used, watch the full video above.
“Don’t Look Up,” which was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, is now streaming on Netflix.