Those who have seen the cult classic horror movie A Nightmare on

Those who have seen the cult classic horror movie, A Nightmare on Elm Street, would agree that they find the last few scenes confusing. The plot of the film is not hard to keep track of and even though there is some question in scenes about whether the character is dreaming or awake, it is usually made clear by the end. But, the final few minutes of the movie can leave people guessing. The ending is simply not clear at first glance and makes little sense after all the events that led up to it. So, Nancy turns her back on Freddy and defeats him? Then she opens the bedroom door to the front of her house, cleaned and dressed? I don’t think so. Because of this confusion, I think that the main character, Nancy did not wake up from her nightmare thinking she pulled Freddy Krueger out with her; Nancy is still dreaming. The scenes that I will be going over to help support my theory are the scene showing Nancy pulling Freddy through the dream into the real world, the scene showing Freddy walking into the traps that had been set by Nancy before going to sleep, the chase scene through the house, the scene where Freddy is discovered killing Marge in her bed, the scene showing Nancy demanding for her friends back and proclaiming that she knows her dreams are not real, and the final scene showing Nancy stepping out to the front porch of her house, having a conversation with her mother, and joining her friends in the car before it drives off. Nancy sets a ten minute alarm on her watch, whispers a short prayer and closes her eyes. I believe that this the last time we see her awake. From there, I believe the whole remaining film takes place completely in the dream world. Nancy struggles with the rose trellis when her alarm clock rings, she only thinks that she wakes up and pulls Freddy with her. I think she is still in the dream and understanding this makes the ending a lot less confusing. Let’s start at the beginning of the climax: Nancy appears to wake up with the rose trellis on top of her and Freddy springs up reviling he is in the room with her. As planned, she pulled him out of her dream with her. And the chase is on. But unlike in earlier scenes, he’s vulnerable and even angrier. He’s smashed on the head with the coffee pot and walks right into Nancy’s booby traps. It seems like Nancy is winning. But Freddy is controlling everything. Everything that happens is conjured by Freddy, just as in the dreams of his other victims. While chasing Nancy downstairs, Freddy is stunned by Nancy’s explosive gunpowder trap. Then, Nancy leads him down into the cellar where she douses him in gasoline, tosses a match and sets him on fire. By this point, we know from Freddy’s backstory that fire is his weakness, so Nancy continues to think she’s winning, that Freddy is vulnerable, and that she is in the real world. But Freddy survives. If this were actually the real world, his survival would be impossible. Not only that, after being knocked down the stairs by Nancy and closing the door, Freddy manages to escape up the stairs, out the cellar, and past her and the police to get upstairs to where Marge is sleeping. All without being noticed at all. After Nancy breaks the window and calls out to her father across the street, he and other policemen rush over to the house and break open the door. It’s only then, that Nancy sees fiery footprints that lead up the stairs. Nancy and her father follow the trail to find Freddy strangling Marge in her sleep. Nancy attacks Freddy with a chair and her father throws a blanket over them to extinguish the fire. When he pulls it away, there is a hole in the bed. A bright light shines from below, thunder, and lightning come from a portal in the middle of the bed. Marge’s now decayed body is lowered into the hole and after that, the bed returns to normal. This display helps Nancy realize she’s still trapped in the dream with Freddy. After a bit of reassurance that everything will be alright Nancy encourages her father to go downstairs and that she will follow him in a minute. When she is alone, the bedroom door gets closed by itself and Nancy turns her back on the bed, facing the door. Freddy comes out of the bed, cutting the sheet with his glove. Nancy declares that she knows his secret, that this is just a dream and nothing happening is real. Realizing that you’re dreaming and asserting it is a common part of lucid dreaming techniques where the dreamer knows they are dreaming and then can, therefore, control the dream. Nancy knows she’s dreaming now and she’s taking control of the dream from Freddy. She turns to face him and demands for her mother and her friends back. She also tells him that she takes back “every bit of energy I gave you. You’re nothing. You’re shit”. She then turns around again and ignores him. When trying to get his final grasp on her, Freddy disappears with a flash of light. Nancy opens the bedroom door and suddenly steps outside of her house. This is done to convince the viewer that they are now back in the real world. Time skips and cuts between scenes are very common in movies, especially after the climax of the movie when the film moves into its epilogue. But this scene transition from the dark bedroom to the bright and pretty scenery of stepping outside is a very jarring experience. It seems to skip over too much and the cut from Nancy opening the bedroom door to Nancy stepping outside seems to imply she walks directly from one scene to the next. That would be crazy, but it is a well-known feature of dreams that they jump from one scene to another and rarely do the scenes join up. They lack a proper beginning and ending. This was a plot point used in the movie Inception, which is about being trapped in a dream and not being able to tell where the dream ends, and reality begins. Outside, Nancy has clean clothes on and the burn on her arm has disappeared. Her mother is alive, but Nancy notices her bright and now cheery demeanor which is a complete turn around from the night before and very out of character for Marge based on the rest of the film. Nancy asks her mother if she is feeling alright and Marge responds with, “Oh, I feel like a million bucks. They say you’ve bottomed out when you can’t remember the night before. You know baby, I’m going to stop drinking, just don’t feel like it anymore.” I absolutely think this should have given Nancy an obvious clue that she is still dreaming. Nancy’s friends then pull up to the house in a convertible, Nancy says goodbye to her mother, and she joins them in the car. At this point, everything seems to have returned to normal. A voice from off-camera, which we might assume is Glen’s calls out to Marge and says, “Can you believe this fog?” She responds with, “Oh, I believe anything is possible.” Suddenly the top of the car slams down, the windows automatically roll up, and the doors lock. The car’s roof is striped red and green like Freddy’s signature sweater. Nancy and her friends are trapped. They panic as the car drives away by itself. While this is all happening, and her daughter is yelling for help Marge waves goodbye and doesn’t notice anything strange about this. The scene then pans over to the three girls jumping rope and sing the creepy Freddy nursery rhyme. We cut back to Marge and see her get pulled through the small glass window of the door by Freddy’s arm. The end. Or is it? I don’t think so. The only logical sense for this to be done at the very end of a movie is to set up for a sequel. Nancy walks through the door into a completely different scenery simply because she’s still in the same dream from when she went to bed night before. No time has passed. She didn’t leave the dream world. We even see in the scene that everything is depicted in a bright, pastel, and soft sort of ambiance that almost seems too pretty and perfect to be the real world. I think that Freddy is walking into Nancy’s booby traps on purpose to continue with the charade, so Nancy thinks she’s “got him”. He’s toying with her. Nancy setting him on fire and the policemen running over to help is also just part of the dream that Freddy includes so Nancy feels like she will be saved. The way the movie jumps from her coming out of the house and meeting her friends with her mother on the front porch is very sudden seems like a normal transition from any other movie between the climax and the ending, but the way it’s cut suggests there’s more to it. It suggests that she is walking from one scene directly to another like a transition in a dream that makes no sense. Freddy is continuing with the illusion that Nancy has succeeded in bringing him into the real world, only to let her find that she’s still in the dream when it comes to their concluding conflict. This gives him an extra dose of satisfaction when Nancy realizes she hasn’t actually won. In the end, Freddy wins. Leaving us all with more questions to spend years contemplating until the next movie is released. It’s well known that writer and director Wes Craven originally wanted the movie to have a happy ending but producer Robert Shaye and the studio executives made him change the ending so a sequel could be made. But that doesn’t exactly explain how Wes Craven wants us to understand the changed ending or what he meant by it. I don’t think a talented writer like Wes Craven would just swap the ending without thinking about how it fits into the movie. It makes the most sense to assume that Nancy never really beats Freddy, that they are in the dream the whole time, and Freddy is playing with Nancy and letting her think she won to increase her terror and despair. Once you’re in the dream, Freddy has all the power. The only way to protect yourself is, “nine, ten, never sleep again.”

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