The Butterfly Effect Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

What Games Of God Lead To: Analysis Of The Film The Butterfly Effect. The Ending Of The Film “The Butterfly Effect”: Its Meaning & Alternative Versions, Explanation of 2,3 Part.

Country: USA, Canada

Genre: fantasy, thriller, drama

Year of production: 2003

Director: Eric Bress, J. McKee Gruber

Cast: Ashton Kutcher, Amy Smart, Elden Henson

The point of The Butterfly Effect is that even seemingly insignificant events can have serious consequences. The film is based on the theory of chaos, according to which even such a frivolous phenomenon as the flapping of a butterfly’s wing affects the system in a completely different place – even in another part of the globe.

What is the movie The Butterfly Effect about?

The film based on the story of Ray Bradbury “There was Thunder” was released in 2004 and immediately became one of the high-profile independent projects of the early 2000s.

The picture (by the way, the screenwriter took only the idea of ​​the book as a basis and created the original work) was quite calmly received by the public and critics, but over time gained a cult status. They love “The Butterfly Effect” primarily for the interesting ideas that its creators put into this film.

Brief summary of the picture. A young man named Evan Treborn suffers from a mental illness. He also inherited a rare gift from his father – he is able to interfere in the events of the past and change them.

butterfly effect protagonistThe main character is Evan Treborn, played by Ashton Kutcher. Frame from the film.

But not everything is so simple: by intervening in events, Evan changes the life of not only one person, but many others. In the end, he realized that “playing God” could not lead to anything good, but only by this moment so much had happened that it became possible to stop the running process only at a very terrible price.

All the reviews and reviews say that the idea of ​​​​the film “The Butterfly Effect” lies on the surface: the road to hell can be paved with good intentions. But this picture also has a hidden meaning, and a full explanation of everything that happened on the screen awaits the viewer only closer to the finale.

Plot Summary

So, the film tells the story of a young man named Evan. Since childhood, the boy has suffered from short-term memory loss, so he is forced to keep a diary in which he writes down absolutely everything that happens to him.

Evan did not reread his notes until he entered the university. There, quite by accident, he discovered an incredible ability: it turns out that reading children’s diary entries sends him into the past and allows him to change it.

Taking advantage of the opportunity to travel back in time, Evan begins to redeem his worst childhood memories, whether it’s taking part in the filming of an underground erotic film arranged by a neighbor, the accidental murder of a young mother and child, or the horrific death of his dog.

But every time Evan travels to the past and changes an event there, the future also changes. After each change in the past, Evan lives a different life and finds himself in completely new circumstances.

As a result, the young man realizes that all attempts to correct the past lead only to an even more terrible future. Moreover, he cannot predict in any way how exactly his actions will affect the future development of events.

In the end, Evan wants to make one last change and then burn the diaries.


The meaning of the film “The Butterfly Effect” (2004) lies in its title. This phenomenon was first identified by the meteorologist Lorenz (one of the developers of Chaos Theory). The original hypothesis reads: “A butterfly flapping its wings in Iowa can cause an avalanche effect that can culminate in the rainy season in Indonesia. The butterfly effect is that even small events in the past can drastically change the future.”

In cinema, this effect is often used as a metaphor for the fact that even the smallest action can have huge consequences.

The trick is that we can never determine exactly what will actually lead to certain events.

The explanation for the name (and meaning) of the painting “The Butterfly Effect” is this: the world is unpredictable, and therefore it is part of Chaos Theory.

It turns out that in the chaos of what is happening, we will never be able to see a clear causal relationship that can show how one event leads to another.

But what happens if we imagine a creature that could think of all the particles in the universe?.. This question was asked by Pierre-Simon Laplace, a mathematician and astronomer. He developed a hypothesis called “Laplace’s Demon”. He suggested that if such a being could even hypothetically exist, knowledge of the past and future would become available to him. This will become possible because he will be able to calculate the movement and the mutual conditioning of everything. Laplace was a determinist, and firmly believed that everything in this world is subject to cause and effect.

The film “Butterfly Effect” raises the theme of predetermining the fate of man. Is it really worth interfering with your own destiny? Or will human intervention only make matters worse?

The Butterfly Effect doesn’t have just one answer. On the one hand, all the attempts of the protagonist to change his fate led to a disastrous result: either his friend went crazy, then Evan himself went to prison or lost both hands in an accident.

loss of both armsFrame from the film.

In the finale of the film, Evan still changes, albeit for the last time, the story of his own life. But is it really so? Maybe in ten years a chain of seemingly unrelated events will lead to even more terrible consequences than he imagined? The creators of the picture do not give a direct answer to this question.

Inside the film is the idea of ​​a strong connection between the past and the future, which is served through time travel. The problem is that no matter how the hero changes his past, he will never reach the ideal future, since it simply does not exist.

The film “The Butterfly Effect” reveals the viewer’s love for the search for patterns. A person loves to seek and find connections – to look for them in works of art and in his own life.

So what’s the point of the movie? Most likely, its meaning is to accept our past with all its problems: it is not in our power, and it has already influenced who we are now.

The meaning of the ending

The meaning of the ending of the director’s cut of The Butterfly Effect is very different from the ending of the theatrical version of the picture.

In the rental version, the hero goes back to his childhood, at the moment of meeting Kelly, who later becomes his girlfriend, and says that he hates her. They no longer communicate, and in the end they walk past each other.

The director’s cut of The Butterfly Effect is much darker. The hero sends himself not somewhere, but into the mother’s womb, and strangles himself with the umbilical cord. That is, 25-year-old Evan, realizing that he is the cause of all the problems, penetrates the mind of the child, and simply refuses to be born. In the end, this supposedly leads to a happy future for all of his friends. But… “You can’t fix the future without changing the past”, because it is formed not by events, but by the person himself.

Actors and roles

Ashton Kutcher, who many know as a handsome guy who plays in rom-coms, at the dawn of his career showed the makings of a good dramatic actor. For the filming of The Butterfly Effect, he prepared with genuine dedication. He studied books on psychology and physics, attended lectures, and immersed himself in trying to understand the concept of chaos theory.

Ashton KutcherThe main character of Ashton Kutcher and his diary. Frame from the film.

Now Ashton continues to act in films and TV shows. His latest project, Revenge, will be released in 2021.

Amy Smart, who played Evan’s girlfriend, Kelly, also continues to act in films. In the piggy bank of her roles, there are both film comics and serious dramatic projects.

Amy SmartAmy Smart as Evan’s girlfriend, Kylie Miller. Frame from the film.

And more about the meaning

The film has a very interesting principle of antagonism: Evan’s main value is happiness together with Kelly. No wonder he formulates his conscious desire with a promise to return to her.

The marginal value is: “I’m happy, but not with her.” And here is the opposite value: “We are both unhappy because we are not together.”

The story begins with a borderline value: Evan is happy, but Kelly is not around: it is her that his everyday world lacks to be filled with happiness. When Kelly dies, Evan finds himself in denial and goes to save Kelly by adding her to his life: he believes this is the only way she can be happy. But this is an illusion.

After two murders of Tommy, it becomes apparent that Kelly’s happiness largely depends not on the presence of Evan in him, but on the mental health of his brother, which is confirmed by the reality in which Evan has no hands. Only the illness of his mother helps Evan understand the main thing.

To understand the meaning of the picture, you need to stop confusing cause and effect. It’s not entirely correct to think that Evan is returning to those moments from his past that he does not remember. It is much more correct to say this: Evan does not remember some moments of his past, because he returned to them from the future.

Film Butterfly Effect-2

The film tells about Nicholas Larson: by the will of fate, he survives the accident, but finds out that his friends and fiancee have died. After recovering from treatment, Nick discovers that he has a unique gift to return to the past and change it.

He resolutely returns to the past to save the people dear to him, but, unfortunately, he does not yet know that all his actions can lead to an even more terrible catastrophe.

What is The Butterfly Effect 2 about?

The main idea of ​​this film echoes the idea of ​​the original “Butterfly Effect”: any change in the past can lead to unpredictable consequences.

This film is not a continuation of the picture with Kutcher, so it is impossible to say that this is its second part. The film was directed by John R. Leonetti (“Mask”, “Soul Surfer”). Starring Eric Lively and Erica Durance.

Eric Lively and Erica Durance.Eric Lively and Erica Durance in the lead roles. Shot from the film The Butterfly Effect – 2.

The protagonist of the picture is a young man named Nick. Unlike Evan, he received his terrible gift after a car accident in which he miraculously survived. Nick uses the gift in a peculiar way: if Evan used it only to save and help, Nick resorts to it for selfish purposes too.

This picture failed to repeat the success of the first “Butterfly Effect”: according to critics, the film did not develop the original idea in any way, did not seek answers to questions. The film simply repeats the plot, but with different characters.

The meaning of this picture is generally the same as that of the film with Kutcher: you should not play God, because there is a risk of playing too much.

The third part

In 2009, another film was released, The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelation (directed by Seth Grossman, starring Chris Carmack and Rachel Miner).

The hero of this picture did not even try to change the past. He used his unique gift to improve the present: he helped to find criminals. And here, in fact, the filmmakers did not explain the butterfly effect: the audience saw a typical film product about a guy with unusual abilities.

The tempting idea of ​​going back in time and changing it is reflected in a similar movie story. Follow the link to read an article about the meaning of the film “Mr Nobody”.

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