Swimmer explains the ending: Is Ned alive or dead?

What if the journey you started for fun turned out to be the biggest mistake of your life? A film titled The Swimmer was released in 1968 and follows the life and adventures of a middle-aged man named Ned Merrill after he decides to cross the neighborhood swimming pool.

Directed by Frank Perry, this film stars Burt Lancaster as Ned Merrill, Janet Landgard as Julie Ann, Janice Rule as Shirley Abbott, Joan Rivers as Joan, Tony Beakley as Donald, Marge Champion as Peggy, Kim Hunter. playing the role of Betty and Bill Feore playing the lead role of Hoy.

The supporting cast stars Rose Gregorio as Silvia, Charles as Howard, House Jameson as Mr. Halloran, Nancy Cushman as Mrs. Halloran, Barney Hamilton as Halloran’s Chauffeur, Jimmy Joyce as Jack, Michael Carney as Kevin is acting.

Richard McMurray as Stu, Jan Miller as Lillian and Diana as Cynthia. Released on May 15, 1968, an American surrealist drama kept the audience glued to their seats till the end. Audiences missed the film for its quirky, stylized work. Many viewers failed to understand what exactly happened in the film. The swimmer’s run time was 95 minutes.

Burt Lancaster as Ned [Credits- Columbia Pictures]

The Swimmer is one of the few movies that was ahead of its time. The film had a great cast and Bart’s role as Ned was appreciated by the audience. Viewers felt that the film had an element of frank hallucination.

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Swimmer: The ending explained

The film opens in an autumn forest with dead leaves and someone running around. A fit-tanned middle-aged man emerges from the woods, wearing a bathing suit and no slippers. The man in the bathing suit is Ned Merrill, who has dropped by a pool party hosted by his old friends. Ned Merrill is offered a cocktail by his friends while they are nursing a hangover from the night before the party.

Ned’s condition doesn’t dictate his location, but old friends talk about their lives. During the conversation, Ned discovers that there are multiple swimming pools in their backyard that could create a river in his house.

the swimmer
Still from the swimmer [Credits- Columbia Pictures]

Ned dives into his friend’s backyard pool before emerging from the other side of the pool, thus beginning his journey. Ned’s behavior confuses his friend because he knows disturbing things about his recent past.

Ned seems to have forgotten his past life, but as Ned travels through the swimming pool, he begins to meet his daughter’s 20-year-old babysitter, Julie. Ned tells his plan to Julie, who decides to join him on his adventure. The pair crash another pool party and sip some champagne together.

Julie reveals her crush on Ned during their chat in the woods. Julie reveals two of her sexual affairs to Ned, which scares Julie and she runs away from him, before Julie starts talking about protecting her. Med then encounters an elderly nudist couple who aren’t bothered by her unconventional behavior but are unimpressed by her posturing.

Ned then meets Kevin, a young boy who teaches him to swim. Ned asks the young boy to imagine an empty pool full of water and teaches him to swim before proceeding on his journey.

The young man takes his imagination a bit too far when he decides to jump off the deep end of the pool and Ned has to come back to save him. Need fails to connect deeply with the people he encounters throughout his journey. Ned becomes increasingly out of touch with reality as the people around him believe each other in one-upmanship.

Soon, Ned begins to think that his life may not be as perfect as he thought. Ned crashes another party where the hostess calls him the party chaser.

Ned also meets Joan, a bubbly girl who doesn’t know him but is intrigued by him after he tries to get to know her. Ned catches the guest’s attention when he jumps into the pool, making a big splash.

Ned sees the owner of a hot dog cart and gets into a fight with him. After several similar instances, Ned arrives at Shirley’s, the stage actress’s backyard pool. It is revealed that he had been in a relationship with Shirley, and the pair compare their experiences, where Ned’s warm memories of them together are contrasted with Shirley’s memories of being another woman.

Failing to reconcile with Shirley, Ned goes into the deep end of the pool. After walking barefoot along a busy highway, Ned arrives at a public pool. The janitor of the public pool talks to Ned jokingly, and after this encounter, he meets a group of angry local shopkeepers. Shopkeepers ask him when he will clear the debt and make bad comments about his wife and daughters. Unable to control his emotions, Ned flees the scene.

the swimmer
Janet Landgard as Julie [Credits- Columbia Pictures]

Did Ned make it out alive?

The film ends with the sky darkening and rain falling before a limp and shivering Ned returns home to his tennis court where his daughters are supposed to be playing, but the court is in disrepair and his house is locked and deserted.

Ned returns to his place alive, but when he returns to his house everything is destroyed. After returning to his abandoned home, an enraged Ned tries to open his house.

The film ends as a symbol of the broken American dream with Ned standing on the feet of his broken dream and passing through an era of partying and fun. At the end of the film Ned is delusional and doesn’t remember much of his past, but he survives.

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