The End Is Near…And Coming To A Theater Near You

Recent Cinema Gives A Glimpse Of A Possible Apocalypse



Will Smith in “I Am Legend,” just one of many apacalyptic visions offered by recent films. (Warner Bros. Pictures/MCT)


Will Smith in “I Am Legend,” just one of many apacalyptic visions offered by recent films. (Warner Bros. Pictures/MCT)

Published: April 3, 2008

The end is near! It won’t be long until everyone on earth is infected with a virus, the earth is flooded, a seven-headed beast numbered 666 destroys midtown Manhattan and seven horns are blasted, shaking the earth below us! Now, if I just lost you, I apologize. The truth is: The last few sentences should have confused the hell out of you. There’s simply something that doesn’t fit. Maybe it’s the monster (because honestly, when was the last time you saw a seven-headed anything?), and I highly doubt anyone is able to blast a trumpet that loud anymore, now that Dizzie Gillespie is dead. But that’s beside the point.

A monster and trumpets? Where the hell do you get an idea like that? Actually, they’re in the most circulated book in the world: the Bible. The virus and the flood sound the most feasible, yet the Book of Revelations, which until popular fiction became readily available to the masses, not only uses trumpets and a beast as elements of the apocalypse, but it was also the generally accepted prediction of the future among God-fearing people.

Obviously, there have been drastic changes to the way people view the future. A survey of 15 Fordham students showed obvious results. When asked which seemed most likely and least likely to happen in the Apocalypse, all 15 students said that the Beast and the trumpets were the most ridiculous (most of them even laughed at the fact), and all stated that the flood was obviously the most realistic. So what has compelled people to abandon their biblical beliefs and find other predictions more believable? What has caused a centuries-old credence to become a ridiculous myth in less than a century? Well, film of course! Who’s not going to believe Hollywood features over the Bible, right?

I would be wrong to obviously leave out fiction as a whole, but it has been film that has made the most impact on the way people view the world around them. Along with other things, film has been responsible for changing standards in romantic relationships, as the conservative 19th-century couple turned to the lustful free-spirited twosome (some might call it the Hollywood romance), and it has definitely been film that has changed people’s beliefs about the end of the world.

As the level of public fear continues to increase with threats of global warming and terrorism, Hollywood has entered into the picture. According to Father Michael Tueth, professor of communications and media studies at Fordham, “our current president and his neo-conservative advisors do have an agenda—they want to foster an atmosphere of fear among the citizenry, for their own power and profit. So they have fostered fear among the population, and Hollywood has picked up on it and is making money off it.” Public fear is at its highest and so is production of apocalyptic films. With recent films like “I Am Legend,” “Cloverfield” and “Doomsday,” all of which have been released in the past year, it seems as if a new apocalyptic-style film is being released every month (Expect M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening” to continue this trend this June).

Are these films the answer? In the 1950s, with the fear of the atomic bomb and end of the human race spreading among the population, films like “The Day The Earth Stood Still” and “The Last Man on Earth” were being released, opening up new ideas about what the end of the world could bring. But do people still believe that the earth will be destroyed by extraterrestrial life? I’m going to guess…most likely not.

For Sam Santana, FCLC ’11, “It’s entertainment…I enjoy apocalyptic movies not because of their intense carnage and sinister nature…but because they offer a view into a world without the omnipresent human traditions of government and order. Just as someone might be fascinated with “Scarface” because of Tony’s lack of fear of consequences, people flock to the theater to see apocalyptic films and view a world they are unable to participate in.”

Therefore, Hollywood has left the answer book. That’s not to say people are actually thinking for themselves now, it’s just saying that people are finally realizing that the end of the world is not going to be brought about by zombies or aliens. More or less, films that may have given answers in the past have become an escapist art, a way to leave reality and view the possibilities. However, when you leave the theater and enter back into the real world, you have to begin to believe in a little thing called hubris; that which has made us strong may also bring about our downfall.