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Netflix Addresses Alternate ‘The Notebook’ Ending That is Angering Fans

The version of the classic romance drama streaming on Netflix UK is robbing viewers of the emotional experience. Apparently it was all a mistake.
The Notebook
New Line Cinema
By  · Published on February 27th, 2019

We all dream of finding that special someone to spend the rest of our life with. To love and to hold through sickness and health, before ultimately dying in each other’s arms when we’re both old and grey.

Of course, life doesn’t work out that way for everyone, so we turn to movies and White Lies songs to live out this specific romantic fantasy.

For a while, The Notebook was the ultimate movie for catering to those mushy dreams of love and death. But then someone had to go and ruin it by changing the film’s ending for the worse. Naturally, fans — including myself — have been deeply upset at this decision and want answers, dammit! How could they do such a thing?

If you’re reading this article then chances are you remember how the movie ended and you’ve come here to see what all the fuss is about. If you need a refresher, though, allow me to bring you up to speed.

An elderly gentleman named “Duke” (James Garner) reads a romance story to a woman (Gena Rowlands) in a nursing home who suffers from dementia. The tale revolves around a couple (Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling) who fall in love in the late 1930s, but they must fight for their happily ever after as her snobby parents don’t approve of lowly working class types. Life goes on, and other lovers come and go, but in the end our couple find their way back to each other.

But there’s a twist…

We then discover that the elderly pair are the couple from the story, and “Duke” reads to his soulmate every single day so she remembers who he is for a few minutes each time. Sort of like 50 First Dates, only much better. In the film, though, he reads their life story for the final time, as their twilight years come to an end. You see, the couple passes away in each other’s embrace that night. Dead. The end. It’s a heartbreaking ending for sure, but it’s also very romantic.

In the new ending, though, the tear-jerking final shots have been replaced with something more ambiguous and less depressing. Instead of dying, the old couple go to sleep and then the movie cuts to a flock of birds flying over a lake. Naturally, fans aren’t too pleased with the decision, which was first noticed with the version of The Notebook on Netflix UK, and have voiced their disappointment across social media.

Even author Nicholas Sparks, whose novel was adapted into the movie, has been caught off guard about the whole thing. And as it turns out, Netflix didn’t realize what they’d done either. From the Netflix UK Twitter account:

We shouldn’t be too hard on whoever is responsible for changing the ending, though. Maybe their heart was in the right place. Perhaps they went with the more positive and ambiguous version because they wanted to avoid causing their audience any emotional turmoil. After terrible movies like Polar (which Rob actually liked), they knew that Netflix has already caused us too much pain this year.

But we fans want to have our hearts broken whenever we watch the movie. The Notebook inflicts the good kind of pain. Now that we’ve been robbed of that experience, one of the best romances ever told on screen just isn’t the same.

It would be much different if the new ending was satisfying in its own way, but it’s inferior stuff. It feels tacked on and brings an otherwise perfect love story to an underwhelming climax. The movie’s original ending is too well-known and memorable for fans to accept this one. Like every girl I’ve ever dated will tell you, it’s tough having to settle for mediocrity.

Now that Netflix is aware of the issue, they are apparently restoring the original ending. Thank goodness. I’d hate for newcomers to the movie to see this version and assume it’s the only one out there. Everyone who watches The Notebook deserves the ultimate emotional experience, for it may be the closest they ever come to falling in love.

The Notebook will also arrive on Netflix in the US this Friday. As confirmed by a representative from Netflix in an email to FSR (and the official tweet below), the version here will be the original.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.