By Aglaia Berlutti.
For cinema, the end of the world and the fall of civilization are recurring themes that, for decades, have been addressed from different genres and premises. But always, as a cruel reflection on the transience of human nature.
The image of The Statue of Liberty, destroyed by some planetary calamity, is one of the most repeated in pop culture. Also, the recurring symbol about the end of the world, as we know it. An obsession that cinema fed from its beginnings and ended up becoming a genre in its own right. For Hollywood, capturing collective anxiety about a possible apocalypse in fiction is a narrative exercise to which it returns again and again.
But imagining a universal cataclysm that devastates any trace of the human being is a complicated trope. Not only because of its endless variations, but also because of the fact that it usually puts man as responsible for his destiny. Whether due to a natural incident, a war or an inexplicable circumstance. Analyzing the possibility of a catastrophe that endangers existence appeals to a crucial element about the transience of life. Also, what anyone would do to preserve it. In particular, when it focuses on the reaction of the individual or the great masses to a similar event.
From major cities being besieged or destroyed in countless ways to supernatural phenomena. Exploring the possibility of a disaster that surpasses any other has become a way of analyzing time and the future. At the same time, the horrors that great cultural and social errors can cause. We leave you five films that delve into the subject from dissimilar points of view. Monsters, natural accidents, dramatic goodbyes. A journey towards an ancient historical fear that cinema elaborates from an always new perspective.
The Day of the End of the World by Ric Roman Waugh
With its pessimistic air, the film reflects on total destruction as an accidental phenomenon. Which implies that their characters will have to face the tragedy in the midst of chaos. When a comet is about to crash into the earth, John (Gerard Butler) will try to survive, despite knowing that he, perhaps, will not make it.
It’s not the most original premise of all, but yes, one that uses morbid curiosity about a devastating disaster with the greatest skill. With no chance of escape and the threat ever closer, behavior becomes primitive. What turns the plot into a collection of small subtle petty facts that are disturbing because of their credibility. From betrayals to murders, the plot is more interested in showing the reaction of the future victims than the details of the disaster.
In the end, the film tries to be a plea for the unbreakable spirit of our species to live. Although it ends up falling into clichés and predictable twists, it makes it clear that humanity aspires to life. An underlying message amidst the jumbled collection of destroyed settings that the plot unsubtly parses.
28 days after Danny Boyle
Jim (Cilian Murphy) wakes up from a coma only to discover the inexplicable landscape of a desolate London. Twenty-eight days have passed since the outbreak of an infectious outbreak that destroyed civilization in a matter of weeks. But the character doesn’t suspect it and the first minutes of the film are an impeccable exploration of uncertainty and primitive terror. When he finally manages to figure out the reason for the devastation, he can only flee.
Beyond any metaphor or subtext, the film is a look at survival as an immediate impulse. Boyle uses the zombie genre to analyze the nature of horror, but especially the perception of identity. Time and time again, the empty city, devastated by a phenomenon invisible at first sight, is a representation of the individual. Of the one who survives, of the monsters that hide in the shadows.
For its final stretch, the argument showed that the apocalypse can be more than the threat of imminent danger or the destruction of hope. Which, in reality, is the impossibility of even imagining the future. Without a doubt, the hardest point of a brilliant premise.
Blind by Susanne Bier
Malorie (Sandra Bullock) is pregnant and trying to deal with being a mother as best she can. The first few minutes of the adaptation of Josh Malerman’s book of the same name are misleading. The camera follows the character through a city full of seemingly fortuitous small events. A car accident, a suicide, a series of chaotic medical emergencies.
Soon, Susanne Bier manages to create a claustrophobic atmosphere that hides a phenomenon that can never be fully explained. This time, the end of the world also means facing the unknown. A type of circumstance that spreads with the speed of an infection, but never actually becomes a discernible danger.
The only thing certain is that the threat is capable of driving you crazy with a look, so surviving implies blindness. A premise that the film handles with care and skillfully exploits in its crudest moments. Gradually, it becomes clear that Blindfolded is much more than a tale of an unexpected apocalypse. At the same time, it is the loss of humanity in its worst layers and consequences.
Vic Armstrong’s Last Prophecy
Based on the book of the same name by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, the production narrates an apocalypse based on biblical prophecies. Also, in the possibility that good and evil are absolute concepts that cause a consequence. This plot oddity, starring Nicolas Cage in another of his unusual roles, is much more a reflection on the intangible than a disaster movie.
Even so, the plot relates the panorama of what could happen if the gloomy predictions of the mystical predictions were fulfilled literally. From the celestial dome opening in two between incandescent flames to the sudden disappearance of millions of men and women. The last prophecy, covers all the points of terror based on the atavistic announcement of the apocalypse with precision.
For its final sequences, the film also makes such a disconcerting plot decision that it makes it an example of strange cinema. Halfway between the narration of the end times and the power of beliefs, the plot is as disconcerting as it is curious.
2012 by Roland Emmerich
Predictions about the end times abound in universal history and the designated date of the year 2012 was one of the most enduring. For Roland Emmerich, it was the opportunity that allowed him to stage an inconceivable catastrophe through exaggeration. What would happen if instead of a cataclysm they were a group of them? Even more disturbing, dozens of unexplained events in rapid succession?
The disaster film expert made the decision in 2012 to explore all the possibilities of universal devastation. At such a total and crazy level, that several of the scenes are hilarious instead of terrifying. Still, the film managed to capture some of the oldest collective concerns, in a kind of successive revision of underlying terrors. From earthquakes to tsunamis, even the possibility of the earth’s hull splitting open. Emmerich achieved what seemed impossible: mix all the ideas about the apocalypse in a single story.