Monday, August 2, 2010

Apocalyptic Film Week Comes to an End

I didn't plan last week as apocalyptic film week. On Sunday, I chose the movie 2012 because we could stream it from Netflix, and I had heard of it, and the choice was so overwhelming that I just wanted to be done with it.

We joined Netflix because my spouse had become almost desperate to see The Book of Eli, which became first in our queue. It arrived midweek, and we watched it immediately. I enjoyed it immensely, with its apocalyptic landscape and unexpected spiritual themes, which I thought the movie handled well; I talk about it here on my theological blog.

On Saturday, we watched The Road, which I found to be the most emotionally affecting of the three movies of apocalyptic film week. I didn't expect it to be such a tearjerker. In fact, when I first heard they were filming the book, I couldn't imagine how that long trudge would be interesting on film. In some ways, I wouldn't have found it an interesting read, except for Cormac McCarthy's gorgeous prose.

But there I was at the end of the film, weeping. Part of it was that childhood fear that my parents would die, leaving us all alone. Part of it was that the actor who played the boy reminded me of my nephew. Part of it was that fear that never leaves me, that fear that will of course become truth: everything we love will be lost.

But let it be the more mundane losses. Much as I love apocalyptic movies, I wouldn't want to wake up to find myself in one of those plotlines. The losses that we'll all experience will be bad enough, thank you. No need to add in the destruction of the planet. Let me go on believing that the planet will heal itself--although that's becoming harder to believe with each year of increasingly bad news. This week, as we watched apocalyptic movies, we also got the report about the decline of phytoplankton in the sea (go here and here for more).

I wonder if you could make an apocalyptic movie that would educate people about the state of the world's oceans and radicalize them, the way that the nuclear war movies of the 1980's did. Or is one of the problems with apocalyptic movies the scale of them? It's hard to believe that humans can do much, after we watch 2 hours of destruction on a movie size scale. Can we have an apocalyptic movie that also spurs people to hope and action? Hmmmm . . .


Karen J. Weyant said...

I saw all three of these movies, too. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked the Book of Eli as much as I did -- the critics were not especially kind.

I just rented Testament. (but haven't watched it) People who like end of the world flicks say this movie is a classic.

Kristin Berkey-Abbott said...

"Testament" will rip your heart right out. I always think of apocalyptic nuclear blast 80's films in terms of 3: "The Day After," "Testament," and "Threads." "Testament" shows the effects of a nuclear blast in a deep, family-centric kind of way. "Threads," a BBC film, made me afraid to sleep for weeks. It's much harder to find, much harder to watch in terms of the horror, but in the end, I didn't care about the characters in "Threads" as deeply as I did about the characters in "Testament."