Warning: This post contains major spoilers for The WhaleThe Whale ending explained that it is often hard to reconcile who you are with what you wished you could have been. The movie has Brendan Fraser in an Oscar and Golden Globe nominated role, as a teacher who battles with an eating disorder that has left him at over 600 pounds and on the verge of death. All he wants in life is to reconcile with his daughter and possibly help her, knowing she has a hard life of her own. However, where the movie leads, is not crystal clear to all viewers.

The Whale’s ending is devastating as it sees the end of Charlie’s life. He’s tried reconnecting with his daughter Ellie (played in The Whale cast by Sadie Sink), and he did everything he could to make progress throughout the film. However, this was always one-sided, and in the end, he refused to give up on his daughter and tried to give her the one thing she asked for the first time she appeared in the movie. This all led to The Whale ending where Charlie finally seemed to die and pass on to the other side, but did he really get the end that he deserved with his daughter?

Related: The Whale Confirms Sadie Sink Is Stranger Things’ True Breakout Star

Why Charlie Kept The Moby Dick Essay For So Long

Charlie sitting alone in The Whale.

In The Whale, based on the stage play, Charlie read from a Moby Dick essay. The Whale ending explained that the essay was written by Ellie, and he considered it the most honest piece of writing he ever read. Charlie was constantly frustrated with the students he taught online because they would give him generic responses or write what they thought would please him enough to get a good grade. Ellie’s essay had an opinion and a strong perspective that conveyed how she felt about the novel and Captain Ahab. Charlie held that close to his heart because it was honest in a way he or his students never were.

What Happened With Ellie In The Whale?

Charlie's daughter Ellie in The Whale.

Ellie was cruel to Charlie throughout The Whale, a movie accused of fatphobia. The first time she appeared in the movie, she told him that he disgusted her, regardless of his appearance, and said if he loved her, he would walk to her without assistance, which she knew he couldn’t do, and he sadly fell, breaking his side table. She kept returning because he promised to write an essay for school for her and offered her all his money, which totaled over $120,000 since he never spent money on anything but food and rent.

When Charlie’s ex-wife Mary showed up to talk to him about their daughter, Eliie’s dark and cruel side appeared again. Mary (The Walking Dead’s Samantha Morton) and Charlie divorced when Charlie left them for a student named Alan. Mary severed Charlie’s contact with Ellie and wanted to raise her on her own which didn’t work out well. When Mary lashed into Charlie at the end, she admitted that Ellie had turned into a “monster” and was cruel to her fellow students and others. This was also shown when Ellie drugged her father and took photos of him to share online.

Ellie was still working through her problems at The Whale’s end. Ellie refused to reconnect with her dad, even at the end, but she did one thing that might be a glimmer of hope. At the end of The Whale, Brendan Fraser’s Charlie saw the end. He asked her, before she left for the last time, to read her poem to him again. Ellie read the Moby Dick poem and Charlie rose and attempted to walk like at the beginning. It was full circle, as he wanted her poem to be the last thing he heard before he died. When he rose to walk, he floated into the white sky, and it seemed he died. With Ellie reading to him as he died, there is hope she could finally see in herself what Charlie did all those years.

Related: Blast From The Past Is Brendan Fraser’s Most Important Role (Not The Whale)

How Did Thomas Affect Charlie In The Whale?

the whale thomas

One character that played a minor role in Charlie’s final days was the missionary, Thomas (Harley from the MCU). As The Whale ending explained, he wasn’t really a missionary anymore at all and was lying. He had lapsed in his faith, stole money from his youth group, and ran away from home. However, this all crashed down on him when he admitted this to Ellie. What he didn’t know was that she was recording what he said. At the same time, she took pictures of her dad to humiliate him and she sent the recording to Thomas’ parents and former church to humiliate him.

This backfired, as his parents offered to take him back in, and he found forgiveness. This also allowed Charlie to see what he wanted, as he told Mary that Ellie was a good person because she helped Thomas reunite with his parents. Brendan Fraser really escalated things here in The Whale, as Charlie could see the good in anyone, even when their intentions were evil. Even when Ellie lashed out at her dad, humiliated people around her, and lived a self-destructive life, Charlie could only see the eight-year-old girl who wrote a poem about Moby Dick.

Why Charlie Finally Shows His Face To His Students

Brendan Fraser in The Whale.

As The Whale ending explained, Charlie really wanted to die. He had the money for a hospital stay, but refused to spend it and lied to the only person who cared about him. He didn’t care about his life anymore and just wanted to save his daughter. As he told his wife, he just wanted to do one good thing in his life. Brendan Fraser finally broke down, as he showed Charlie saw all lies – from himself, his daughter, the missionary, and more – just caused more pain. He was tired of lying, and he decided that he would finally be honest. After lying to his students about his laptop camera being broken, he finally let them see what he looked like. His students mocked his appearance and he broke his laptop, severing his final ties with the outside world.

How The Whale Compares To The Play (Biggest Differences)

the whale ending

Playwright Samuel D. Hunter also wrote the screenplay for the film adaptation, making The Whale fairly loyal to the original play. However, one of the biggest differences between the movie adaptation and the play is Darren Aronofsky’s more hopeful ending. This was executed in the visual appearance of the two endings. As The Whale ending explained, Charlie went into a white light and the last thing he saw was an image of him, his wife, and their daughter on a beach from the past. It was a sign of hope. The stage play kept showing how bad things were getting until Charlie died, and it all went black and deathly silent. The movie, while incredibly depressing, at least ended on a more positive note.

Related: How Did Brendan Fraser Transform For The Whale Movie?

The Real Meaning Of The Whale’s Ending


The Whale tackles many subjects, including abandonment, loss, broken families, sexuality, and the need for connection. The film’s most powerful theme is redemption. However, as with The Wrestler, Darren Aronofsky left viewers wondering what happened when the movie ended. The Whale ending explained Charlie’s desire to help Ellie find happiness before he dies. This is the only way he feels will absolve him of his past mistakes. Thomas also wants to be redeemed by bringing Charlie back to religion and puts forth tremendous effort to do so. The film suggests redemption has to be earned, and Charlie works hard for it, but that it must also come from the desire to make amends, to begin with.

The Whale also touches upon the theme of being oneself no matter what others think. Charlie feels a lot of shame — be it because of his sexuality or weight — and he hides a lot, fearing judgment despite his own compassion for others. But the Brendan Fraser film ending implies there is beauty in honesty — with others and oneself — and being unafraid of boldly being true to oneself. Crucially, The Whale also explores the variety of ways an individual might deal with grief, be that in losing a significant other to death or dealing with the absence of a parent. Everyone handles it differently, and Aronofsky’s film showcases the breadth of experiences.

Brendan Fraser Receives Oscar Nomination For The Whale

Brendan Fraser in Condor

Brendan Fraser took on the role of Charlie in The Whale and delivered the performance of a lifetime. In Charlie’s interactions with Liz, he showed his undying optimism in the people around him, even as he hated and loathed himself. When he talked to his daughter Ellie, he saw the good in her, even as she did everything in her power to hurt those around her. As a reward for this performance, Fraser picked up his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor.

Fraser received the same nomination from the Golden Globes, but he lost out in that ceremony to Austin Butler (Elvis). Despite that loss, Fraser is considered one of the frontrunners for the award at the Oscars, alongside Butler. On top of Fraser, Hong Chau also received a nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role and the movie picked up a nomination for Makeup and Hairstyling.

More: Every Dwayne Johnson Movie Franchise That Brendan Fraser Started In

Source link