‘The Power of the Dog’ originally had a very different ending

Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst in 'The Power of the Dog'
Image via Netflix

The Power of the Dog’s dramatic but understated ending was nearly very different, according to the editor of the film

The film’s final act sees Benedict Cumberbatch’s Phil Burbank meet an untimely end after spending a considerable amount of time with Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Peter. The film heavily implies that the former is killed by anthrax poisoning and that Peter was involved, with allusions to him having had a sexual relationship with the young man.

The ending perhaps doesn’t make it explicitly clear on first viewing, but this alternate version would have left no room for speculation. Speaking to The Wrap, editor of the film Peter Sciberras revealed what it entailed.

It was a slow pan across Peter’s desk in his room, which showed a medical book on his desk. And then the camera landed on the definition of anthrax in the book. And that was the last shot of the film.


This would have seen the film more faithfully follow the original book by Thomas Savage, but at a potential loss of impact and weight to the viewer. Critics have praised the film’s performances, in particular, that of Smit-McPhee’s, and his harrowing last shots as he overlooks his mother Rose (Kirsten Dunst) returning to the homestead, free of the man who haunted her.

Jane Campion and the star-studded cast likely won’t be having too many sleepless nights about this alternative ending, though, with The Power of the Dog having picked up an astonishing 12 Academy Awards nominations.