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SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains massive spoilers for Allied. If you have not yet seen the film, and don't wish to know details about the ending before doing so, please save this page and click away to another one of our wonderful articles!
While Robert Zemeckis' Allied opens as a fun, romantic, action-packed World War II spy movie, it's ending is quite tragic. It not only turns out that Brad Pitt's Max Vatan has unknowingly spent years married to a German spy (Marion Cotillard's Marianne Beauséjour), but she winds up killing herself to protect him. It's one of the darkest directions that Steven Knight's script could have gone, but Zemeckis believes it was integral to the story being told -- as it is an ultimate sacrifice in the name of love.
Prior to Allied's release, I had the immense pleasure of sitting down with Robert Zemeckis during the film's Los Angeles press day, and after our conversation had drifted into spoiler territory, I asked him specifically about the ending. I asked both about whether it was always the way the story was going to end, and why he felt it the finale was important, and he laid out his perspective:
That's the way Steven wrote it and that's the way it always had to end!... I think that it was, in a strange way, the only ultimate act of final act of love on her part. She had to make the sacrifice, and she did it because she loved her husband and child so much.
What's interesting to note -- and I did -- is that this doesn't immediately come across in the ending of the film. In the movie, we watch Max try to escape with Marianne in a plane, but get stopped by his military colleagues. Acknowledging that there is no way out of the situation, Marianne takes Max's loaded pistol out of the glove compartment, and shoots herself in the head. At this point in the story, it's entirely possible that she committed suicide because she saw no other way out for herself... but then Max finds the letter that she left that confirms that she was sacrificing herself for her husband and child.
I noted this while talking with Robert Zemeckis, and he agreed that it was a crucial element to drive home what "Marianne" had done and how she felt. Said the director,
It's very astute that you said that, because the letter, on a very subconscious level, the fact that she wrote it, means that she knew what she was going to do... It wasn't like she was taking the cowardly way out.