Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Watch: First Trailer For Tim Burton's 'Big  Eyes' Starring Amy Adams And Christoph Waltz Watch: First Trailer For Tim Burton's 'Big Eyes' Starring Amy Adams And Christoph Waltz 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date 'Deadpool’ Spin-Off With Ryan Reynolds Is Finally Green Lit, Set For A Winter 2016 Release Date First Look: Cobie Smulders & Guy Pearce In Andrew Bujalski's 'Results' First Look: Cobie Smulders & Guy Pearce In Andrew Bujalski's 'Results' 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders 10 Films We Haven’t Yet Seen That May Be Serious Oscar Contenders Exclusive: Matthew McConaughey Won’t Be Back For ‘Magic Mike XXL,’ Director Says Sequel Will Be “Very Different” Exclusive: Matthew McConaughey Won’t Be Back For ‘Magic Mike XXL,’ Director Says Sequel Will Be “Very Different” David Fincher Says He Shouldn't Have Directed 'The Game,' Dislikes Superhero Movies & Talks "Crazy" '20,000 Leagues' David Fincher Says He Shouldn't Have Directed 'The Game,' Dislikes Superhero Movies & Talks "Crazy" '20,000 Leagues' Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass Are Returning To The 'Bourne' Series Matt Damon & Paul Greengrass Are Returning To The 'Bourne' Series First Look: Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt In 'By The Sea' First Look: Angelina Jolie And Brad Pitt In 'By The Sea' The Best, Worst And Most Disappointing Films Of The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival The Best, Worst And Most Disappointing Films Of The 2014 Toronto International Film Festival David Fincher Says Differences Over Casting And Disney's Corporate Culture Stalled '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' David Fincher Says Differences Over Casting And Disney's Corporate Culture Stalled '20,000 Leagues Under The Sea' Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 2 ‘The Good Listener’ Recap: 'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5, Episode 2 ‘The Good Listener’ Review: 'No Good Deed' Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson Review: 'No Good Deed' Starring Idris Elba and Taraji P. Henson Watch: Shailene Woodley Gets NSFW In 2 Clips From 'White Bird In A Blizzard' Plus New Pics Watch: Shailene Woodley Gets NSFW In 2 Clips From 'White Bird In A Blizzard' Plus New Pics Tom Hardy Says He'll Never Do Another Romantic Comedy Again Thanks To 'This Means War' Tom Hardy Says He'll Never Do Another Romantic Comedy Again Thanks To 'This Means War' David Fincher Apparently Thinks 'Dragon Tattoo' Sequel 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' Could Get Made David Fincher Apparently Thinks 'Dragon Tattoo' Sequel 'The Girl Who Played With Fire' Could Get Made The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The Best Documentaries Of 2014 So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The Best Films Of 2014 So Far... The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes The 10 Best & Worst Movie Sex Scenes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

5 Underseen Apocalypse Movies To Accompany 'Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com June 22, 2012 at 1:12PM

Apocalypse is an ever-popular idea in cinema. After all, what could be more dramatic than the possibility -- or even the actuality -- of the end of everyone and everything that you've ever known. It's an all purpose metaphor, and can be used to tell all kinds of stories, in all kinds of tones, as this week's comedy-drama "Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World," which sees Steve Carell and Keira Knightley brought together by the impending end of civilization.
7
When The Wind Blows

"When The Wind Blows" (1986)
For all the bleak takes on nuclear apocalypse -- "On The Beach," "Dr. Strangelove," "The Day After" -- it's perhaps a little discomforting to find that the most harrowing comes in the form of a cartoon. Based on Raymond Briggs' graphic novel of the same name, "When The Wind Blows," from Japanese-American director Jimmy Murakami ("Battle Beyond The Stars") follows an average, elderly British couple, Jim and Hilda (who Briggs admitted were based on his own parents, rather hauntingly), who face an imminent Soviet strike on the U.K. with typical British chipperness. Voiced touchingly by John Mills and Peggy Ashcroft, they follow government advice and build a wooden shelter, and wait for the whole thing to blow over. But the bombs fall, and although they survive the blast, they're obliviously dying of radiation poisoning, leading up to a haunting conclusion as they pray together. The wry humor just about makes it palatable, but it's an enormously affecting piece of work (sometimes made a little too obvious by the Roger Waters score and David Bowie theme song), which haunted at least a couple of generations of Brits, and anyone else who managed to see it, sitting alongside "Watership Down" and "Grave Of The Fireflies" on the "unbelievably traumatic animation" shelf.

The Day The Earth Caught Fire

"The Day The Earth Caught Fire" (1961)
Riding the wave of similar nuclear-fearing apocalyptic sci-fi pictures like "The Day The Earth Stood Still" and "When Worlds Collide," "The Day The Earth Caught Fire" is one of the more thoughtful and plausible takes on the genre. Recently divorced Daily Express journalist Peter Stenning (Edward Judd) discovers that simultaneous nuclear tests by the Soviets and the U.S have thrown the Earth slightly out of orbit, causing it to come closer to the sun, and raising temperatures to the point that water is evaporating, covering all of Britain in a mist. There is a plan, but we don't follow the government types hoping to detonate more bombs in Siberia to throw the planet back in its groove, we stay with Peter, his best friend Bill (a lovely turn by the great Leo McKern) and love interest Jeanie (Janet Munro) as they wait on, helplessly. Director Val Guest ("The Quatermass Experiment") keeps everything thoroughly grounded, despite the iffy science of the inciting incident, providing an authentically nightmarish look at London under the cooker. And it has one of the greatest endings in science fiction: Stenning dictates an editorial, as two alternate versions of a final front page, reading World Saved and World Doomed wait to be sent to the presses, depending on how successful the nuclear detonation turns out. U.S. prints added the ringing of church bells, but even that seems to only contribute to the bleak ambiguity of the ending, rather than suggesting that the world's been saved.

Time Of The Wolf

"Time Of The Wolf" (2003)
Unlike the rest of these picks, the apocalypse has pretty much been and gone by the opening of Michael Haneke's "Time Of The Wolf," the Austrian helmer's sole entry into the science fiction genre. But that doesn't mean that the worst is over. Far from it. Society is still crumbling around the family at the centre of Haneke's dystopia. A middle class family, led by matriarch Anne (Isabelle Huppert), are struggling to survive in a world in the aftermath of an again unknown catastrophe (drinking water is scarce, and livestock are set aflame). In the opening minutes, they're robbed, and watch as the patriarch (Daniel Duval) is murdered, forcing them to flee, eventually coming under the questionable protection of tinpot despot Olivier Gourmet, who has control of the uncontaminated water. It's about as much fun as you'd expect from a post-apocalyptic Michael Haneke film -- i.e. no fucking fun whatsoever -- but it's impeccably directed and performed, by Huppert especially. And what elevates it above, say, "The Road," are the hints that the director gives -- without ever over-egging it -- that he's not really talking about some futuristic dystopia, but about the places in the world -- Kosovo, Somalia, wherever -- where people eke out existences all to similar to that of Anne and her family.

This article is related to: Features


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates