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The End Is Nigh

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Mark Kermode Mark Kermode | 12:10 UK time, Friday, 13 July 2012

There's a quirky little film out this week called Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World. It got me thinking about other movies that depict the total extinction of the planet - what are your favourite final reckonings?

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Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    You took Melancholia out of my mouth, and I guess you exclude Mars Attacks! for its upbeat ending, but have you seen Ferrara's latest 4:44: Last Day on Earth? Only caught the trailer, so that could be cheating, but that really does look great: Willem Dafoe on top form

  • Comment number 2.

    How about films where Earth is nearly destroyed too? I'm thinking Flash Gordon for starters.

  • Comment number 3.

    ... Not to mention the brilliant and crazy Korean classic Save the Green Planet, which managed to take every genre in, and Takashi Miike needs a mention. His yakuza movie Dead or Alive was mostly garbage, but it had a cracking ending in a duel when the lead cop pulled a nuclear grenade out from nowhere and destroyed the world. The Age of Stupid was terrifying too, and - if you're including TV series - try Threads

  • Comment number 4.

    well, although we never know if it gets destroyed, it is one of two possible outcomes to 'The Day the Earth Caught Fire', and while the world does not get blown up, 'The Road' is pretty much about the end of everything, albeit with a gram of hope at the very end. Even 'AI' presents us with a lifeless, frozen post human wasteland, albeit with the earth itself intact.

  • Comment number 5.

    I was surprised that Knowing had the courage to follow through on its premise. Some people are quite sniffy about it, but I think it's an underappreciated gem. But then again, I am absolutely and unhealthily besotted with Rose Byrne.

  • Comment number 6.

    The Day After (1983)-In the 80's nuclear war seemed a very real possibility and this scared me to death as a kid. It's relentlessly grim and pretty realistic (which makes it all the more scary), while Steve Guttenberg is a long way from his Police Academy in the film! I have it on video and re-watched it recently with some friends. It's still a shocking film.

    When Two worlds collide (1951)-Again, watching as a kid, I saw this on BBC2 one sunday and the thought of another planet colliding with Earth and destroying it, completely freaked me out.The lottery scene, in particular, disturbed me!

  • Comment number 7.

    Dr Strangelove. Maybe not the end of the world but the end of life on the world. funny, dark and satrical all in all a great peice of filmmaking

  • Comment number 8.

    Long lost 80's classic Miracle Mile. Just an amazing, bleak nasty film. And on the other end of the scale, Last Night: a quirky little film with a final image that is still burned into my memory 15 years on.

  • Comment number 9.

    Easy only one film comes to mind :) Mein Führer! I can walk! Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb

  • Comment number 10.

    Got to agree with the vote for Flash Gordon! I wonder if anyone can possibly defend one of the WORST movies ever to depict the end of the world - the Nic Cage disaster that is KNOWING!

  • Comment number 11.

    Some films have presented the end of the world, some films have presented the end of life, but only one has shown me what to sing as the Earth bows out. All together now...

    We'll meet again,
    Don't know where,
    Don't know when
    But I know we'll meet again
    Some sunny day!

  • Comment number 12.

    *corrected*

    The Day After (1983)-In the 80's nuclear war seemed a very real possibility and this scared me to death as a kid. It's relentlessly grim and pretty realistic (which makes it all the more scary), while Steve Guttenberg is a long way from his Police Academy days in this film! I have it on video and re-watched it recently with some friends. It's still a shocking movie.

    When Two worlds collide (1951)-Again, watching as a kid, I saw this on BBC2 one Sunday and the thought of another planet colliding with Earth and destroying it, completely freaked me out.The lottery scene, in particular, disturbed me and still stays with me.

  • Comment number 13.

    What about Cabin in the Woods?
    Not like seeing earth getting blown up, but surely the end of mankind as such.

  • Comment number 14.

    Titan A.E: the earth is destoryed by aliens and then the hero (matt damon) terra forms a new earth using an earth building machine created by his farther.
    A director i think should make a movie about the earth being destroyed is Gaspar Noé. he would give lars a run for his money.

  • Comment number 15.

    Maybe not the best, but certainly one of the most memorable apocalyptic films for me is Richard Kelly's 'Southland Tales', the movie that teaches us that 'pimps don't commit suicide' and that Jon Lovitz in a blond wig is terrifying beyond all reason.

  • Comment number 16.

    Titan A.E is a really underrated animated science-fiction tale with many of the great post-apocalyptic themes. Did you like it Dr. K? I like the way that Don Bluth combined cgi and animation because like Steven Spielberg's Tintin film, it made the naimation look more live-action than animated and that makes me really interested. Another good thing Titan A.E did was that had a really fun sense of adventure after Earth was destroyed that I thought would be really fun for kids but it turned out to be a big box-office bomb with mixed reviews.

    But considering its' my fourth favourtie film of all time, I'd say that Dr. Strangelove is my favourite end of world film because when you know that the Earth is gonna be destroyed by the Doomsday Machine, all you can do is just laugh at how foolish Dr. Strangelove, Colonel Bat Guano and General Buck Turgidson are being.

    Honorable Mentions would include films such as Melancholia because Lars Von Trier makes it look so beautiful. Even people didn't like it and I didn't think it was as Roger Ebert put it, one of the best films of the year, I thought Knowing by Alex Proyas did a good job of actually delievering the end of the world instead of evading it like many of the hollywood directors like the Michael Bay (Damien) would have done.

  • Comment number 17.

    Tsk, I bet this film doesn't do anything that Bowie didn't get done in 4 minutes on 'Five Years'. Some great imagery in that song. But if you insist on filmic examples, how about The Road? Sure you don't actually see the world end, but I think its fair to say the general tone of the film suggests that things aren't going to turn out rosily in the end. Earth is really dying.

  • Comment number 18.

    Oh, kudos to ElFouche.

  • Comment number 19.

    Last Night (1998). An end of the world movie in which the disaster lingers in the background secondary to the characters. It managed to stay both funny and heart wrenching without getting sentimental in a brilliant attempt to show what people might choose to do on their last day of existence. The characters are likeable, have depth and the whole things feels believable which makes the end hit harder than you might have perhaps been expecting even some way into the film.

  • Comment number 20.

    I dislike film trailers. I thought you disliked film trailers. Why must you start this post with a 50 second film trailer?

  • Comment number 21.

    Not the end of the Earth but still pretty apocalyptic, as these things go: When the wind blows. A very sad story made all the worse by the unassuming, trusting naivety of the central characters. Makes me well up every time.

  • Comment number 22.

    New Zealand 1985 last man standing absolute stone classic The Quiet Earth. Bloke goes nuts for the first third, then gets better, tries to save planet, fails. Possibly. Has the finest closing image in the history of this genre. Much imitated (I'm looking at you, opening scenes of 28 Days Later) but never bettered. Import the US dvd now, before it all comes true.

  • Comment number 23.

    Joss Whedon seems to enjoy destroying the Earth. He obliterates it in the opening credits of Serenity (2005). And more recently at the end of... well perhaps I shouldn't say which film or it will spoil the surprise.

  • Comment number 24.

    It's not a movie, although someone talented REALLY should film it... Stuart Gordon been trying recently, perhaps Guillermo Del Toro? Spike Jonze? Duncan Jones?... but William Hope Hodgson's 1908 classic The House on the Borderland has an incredible, apocalyptic ending where the Earth, then the solar system, then the Universe is sucked into oblivion in a visionary passage, which, as you're just reading it, conjures an unforgettable sequence of awesome images.

  • Comment number 25.

    Surprised no mentions for Hitchhiker's GTTG, but maybe the film version doesn't count.

    My suggestion would be Don McKellar's "Last Night", a film that accepts that the end (which isn't specified) is going to happen, and then concentrates on the ordinary people pasing their final day. No heroics, no saviours, no Hollywood.

  • Comment number 26.

    Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (Film version) even nods towards the Restaurant at the End of the Universe! I think the tv version has a bit more on this including a cameo by an ex Dr Who.

    Isn't there also Meteor and other meteor based ones where the likes of Bruce Willis (sic?) try and save this God forsaken planet?!

  • Comment number 27.

    What about the end of evangelion film, in which the main character (Shinji) dosen't man and mankind is destroyed.

  • Comment number 28.

    man up*

  • Comment number 29.

    Up until recently when I considered this my default answer was always 'Knowing'. Yes the film was pants but the ending was really unexpected and left me in half-smiling, stunned silence. Bad movie, but worth it for the ending (and flaming moose sequence).

    However recently (SPOILER) a little movie called 'Cabin in the Woods' came along and blew me away on every level and the final act just continued to escalate and escalate until that fantastic ending. As a huge misanthrope, the ending put a huge smile on my face! It was also one of the few cases were petty humans were faced with a force much greater than them and were defeated whcih is so rarely seen yet is the far more logical end for that kind of situation.

  • Comment number 30.

    Probably the most famous is the great Stanley Kubrick classic, Dr Strangelove which ends with an atomic bomb being ridden down by Slim Pickens to the sound of "We'll Meet Again" by Vera Lynn. Perhaps the finest way the world could possibly end

  • Comment number 31.

    Dr Strangelove gets a +1 from me too. Wickedly funny, bitingly satirical.

    That phone call where you only hear the US President's side, and are left to infer the Russian's conversation is just sheer genius.

  • Comment number 32.

    There are the obvious choices I've noticed posted, such as Dr. Strangelove and such but there is one film that springs to mind.

    Don Bluth's TITAN A.E. in which the world is completely obliterated at the beginning of the film.

    While the film itself was okay, I give to Bluth for destroying the Earth and placing the human race on the fringes of existence at the beginning of an animated kids movie.

    It's something that sets the surprisingly dark tone of the rest of the film. Not the best film but kudos to Bluth for doing something incredibly brave and dark at the beginning of an animated family movie.

  • Comment number 33.

    Hey Mark,

    May be a little left field but my favourite end of the world films are both animated.

    Firstly I love the feature length Manga animation Fist Of The North Star (1986) which I know was rejected by fans of the TV series, but also and with similar themes the haunting classic Fantastic Planet (1973). Both films focus on the retrogression of humanity following nuclear destruction which manifest in savagery, barbarism and war mongering.

  • Comment number 34.

    There's a 1950s film, When Worlds Collide - I saw it when I was about 10 and I honestly don't recall any details at all but I remember finding the depiction of a society knowing it's about to be annihilated really chilling.

  • Comment number 35.

    I know this is a huge cheat, but as I can't think of anything else: Donnie Darko. Frank's promise to Donnie that '28 days, 6 hours, 42 minutes, 12 seconds is when the world will end' is as terrifying and menacing as any legitmate 'end of the world' movie, and Gyllenhaal's performance is one of the most unsettling I've ever seen on screen.

    One last note: Loved the Eliot reference.

  • Comment number 36.

    Thank God you didn't mention 'Knowing' which is one of those films that made me long for the end of the world while I was watching it. One of the better Earth's-had-it films must be the 1951 Noah's Ark update "When Worlds Collide". Not only is it mouth-dryingly tense with its "Twenty days to Bellus" countdown, but it makes some incisive points about human nature and who might deserve to be saved should the really, really worst ever happen. Shame about the cheesy final scene, though...

  • Comment number 37.

    The End of Beneath the Planet of the Apes haunts me to this day. I saw it as a kid and couldn't understand how a film could have such an unhappy ending. I had nightmares for weeks!
    Ultimately though if end of the world films are done well I think they force us to confront the reality of our own oblivion and make us question what we are doing with our lives. If you don't believe in an afterlife death is the ultimate oblivion.

    Really glad some one mentioned The Quiet Earth. One of the best endings ever.

  • Comment number 38.

    I imagine most replies won't be read out due to potential plot spoilers, but I'd like to mention Takashi Miike's absolutely bonkers 'Dead or Alive'. Most of the film is a pretty standard (for Miike, anyway) gangster flick, until the 'final battle' where the two leads pull out increasingly ridiculous weapons on each other, eventually causing the total destruction of Earth. I doubt even the most devout Miike fan could have predicted that.

  • Comment number 39.

    I have to admit I haven’t made it all the way through it yet but Andrei Tarkovsky's The Sacrifice is set on the eve of a potential nuclear holocaust. Having not seen it through to the end though I cant confirm it the world does indeed end. I will get there one day im sure. It makes stalker or Mirror seem like Hollywood blockbusters in comparison though!

    In response to people mentioning The Day After you should ignore that film and watch Threads instead. I believe the Day after was basically the American answer to Threads anyway which is I much better film in my opinion and bleaker! I had a feeling of dread for about a week after watching that for the first time!

  • Comment number 40.

    whoops

    it = if
    I = a

  • Comment number 41.

    Not necessarily a film and not necessarily set on Earth but Battlestar Galactica begins with the virtual annihilation of the human race.

    The reimagined series was an incredibly gripping sci fi show that was more about the human survivors than it was about any of the sci fi elements. Sure those creeped in now and again but it was the human element and humanity's struggle to survive in this bleak new darkness that set this show apart from most other sci fi shows.

  • Comment number 42.

    "Iron Sky".

  • Comment number 43.

    As already mentioned by a few on this board, Dr Strangelove. Kubrick's comedic masterpiece employs the scenario on what if a rogue American general, who just happens to be obsessed with the mad theory of old Soviet floridation, launches an atomic attack on the Soviet Union. The film takes a brilliant, satirical (and sadly very accurate) look on the Amercian Department of Defence. It also demostrates the American's plans of surviving a nuclear attack; hiding in mineshafts and repopulating the earth by having ten females to each male.

    However despite the brilliant performances from Peter Sellers, George C Scott and Sterling Haydon; For me the star of the film is Gill Taylor's cinematography. Shot in icy black and white, the dark corridors of the President's War Room to the shadows on display throughout the film raises the tension of the film and makes the viewer both laugh at the absurdity of it all, and also cringe with fear at how real and close the world came to nuclear war.

  • Comment number 44.

    #39 -Threads was indeed powerful but it was a tv series, I mentioned The Day after as it was a TV Movie..........both are unrelentingly grim!

  • Comment number 45.

    Dear Dr. Kermode,

    Although you never actually the end of the earth in it, 'Last Night' a Canadian film by Don McKellar who also sats, along with David Cronenberg. the film is very much an anti-armageddon movie, more a sobre reflection on the end of the world than Michael Bay thriller.

  • Comment number 46.

    @6 The Day After

    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the brilliant, terrifying BBC TV play Threads (which one critic said made The Day After look like A Day at the Races).

    For those that have never seen Threads, it was one of the most terrifying, scary, unnnerving pieces of television ever made. It was written by Barry Hines (Kes) and directed by Mick Jackson (LA Story, Volcano) and tell the story of a nuclear strike on Sheffield (but the rest of the UK is pretty much blown away) and looks at the build up, the war and the devastating aftermath. It examines the medical, economic, social, and environmental consequences of the war in way that The Day After does not look at (and The Day After does offer a small glimmer of hope at the conclusion of the film, Threads offers no hope whatsoever).

    Threads is available on DVD but you can also watch it in 10 minute chunks on You Tube and it is genuinely frightening. At the end of Threads, what is left of the population is either dying from cancer or mentally/physically handicapped and the English language has devolved to a state of almost utter gibberish.

    On the subject of apocalyptic fiction, nobody has mentioned the Nigel Kneale TV play called The Road. It was made in 1963 and the BBC (in their infinite wisdom wiped it). It tells the story of a philosopher who investigates a haunted wood. Kneale had the brilliant idea of flipping the standard ghost story (past haunts the present) and instead had the past being haunted by the future (the ghosts are future ghosts trying to escape a nuclear apocalypse).

    Since we're on the subject of the world coming to the end, why has nobody mentioned John Carpenter's The Thing? At the conclusion of that I firmly believe that the creature will survive and go on to infect the rest of the world.

  • Comment number 47.

    @39 - Jim

    I saw Threads nearly 3 years ago and even now it scares me.

    Threads also inspired me to write a short ghost story about a haunted nuclear bunker during a nuclear war.

  • Comment number 48.

    SPOILER ALERT: The Cabin in the Woods.

  • Comment number 49.

    Dear doctor. To me the best end of the world movie is Takashi Miike's Dead or Alive 1. Absolutely one of the weirdest movies I've ever seen. Also the first one I saw from Miike. Starts with an explosion of images, to be followed by an almost Sergio Leoni-western type of slowness, to end with a fight between the two main characters that is so... undiscribable. And then the world explodes.

  • Comment number 50.

    When Worlds Collide. A 50s movie, where the world really does collide with something BIG.

    Direct or produced by the same man who made the original War Of The Worlds.

    No, I cannot remmeber his name. I suppose I could look it up...

    nah

  • Comment number 51.

    Naturally spoliers follow....


    Cabin in the Woods had a fantastic the world is over ending. For a horror movie to have the tenacity to actually end with the lead characters completely giving up and letting the world basically be utterly detroyed such a refreshing and shocking ending. Just the image of the giant hand reaching out of the ground and destroying everything before quickly cutting was genious!

    I'm not sure if it technically counts in the same league as Meloncholia but it certainly implies that world is now completely over.

  • Comment number 52.

    I have a real soft spot for Last Night by Don McKellar. I stumbled across it very late one night on the tv and was drawn in by the lack of saccharine in some of the opening dialogue. It struck me as a vaguely funny, vaguely honest and quite unsettling look at how I think I'd react in that situation.

  • Comment number 53.

    I know the world doesn't quite end, but I've always loved The Road. The heartfelt relationship between the father and son is beautifully counterpoised against the cold, harsh reality of a world that's nearly dead.

  • Comment number 54.

    The Two Tribes video by Frankie Goes to Hollywood? The Russian and US leaders fighting in a wrestling ring and whipping their people into a frenzy, climaxing in the whole planet exploding!

  • Comment number 55.

    Definitely the best world-ending moment has to be from The Cabin in the Woods. Only Joss Whedon would have that kind of mindset to take a pretty bog-standard horror movie and turn it on its head like that. We go from seeing the two surviving friends sharing a joint and laughing, and then that brilliant shot of the enormous hand rising up from the bowels of the Earth and smacking down again. It only takes about 10 seconds, but it's a pretty definite end to all things.

    If we're including nuclear apocalypses in this category, there's a haunting little film called When the Wind Blows, about a little couple in Yorkshire who slowly die of radiation poisoning as rural England lies decimated around them. It's small and understated, but watching them slowly succumb to fear and illness is genuinely heartbreaking.

  • Comment number 56.

    I just watched and very much enjoyed TAKE SHELTER. Possibly the end of the world as we know it. Protagonist suggests the approaching storm is mother natures way of redressing the balance .

  • Comment number 57.

    "Knowing" i guess would be probably the most recent to cover this theme, i think that movie is very underrated and harshly criticised, i know a lot of people hated it when it was released, i think even Dr K was indifferent about it in his review?, but a couple of wonky fx aside, Alex Proyas created a superb doom laden apocalyptic atmospheric chiller that i hope will re-appraised in years to come. Watch it again on a good screen and sound system, i think you may change your mind.

  • Comment number 58.

    Well the only movie I can think of where the world actually end in a non comic way is Beneath the planet of the Apes. But hears the question. Over the last few years, Hollywood has given us a lot of the world 'ALMOST' ending movies, I'm talking about films like, Independence Day, 2012, Armageddon ,The Core, all the Transformers movies and so on and so forth.
    But after watching all of these movies I've always found my self wishing that those films would have been so much better if the so called heroes had failed and the world had been blown up, melted or eaten by green lizards.
    Don't get me wrong I like a happy endings but when I see Michael Bay of Roland Emmerich on the credits I know that the worlds gonna turn out just fine. Then I ask my self would any self respecting film fan want to live in a world where these directors are aloud to make £100 million movies.

  • Comment number 59.

    One more vote for the fantastically bonkers End of Evangelion, in which the main character all but exterminates mankind through his own indecision. A wholly engrossing conclusion to one of the most storied animated series of all time.

  • Comment number 60.

    There aren't many movies which depict the destruction of the Earth rather than the end of humanity & I guess all the good ones have already been mentioned but I'll mention them again.

    Beneath the Planet of the Apes has got to be the best; talking warmongering apes, mutant bomb worshipping humans & Chuck Heston pushing the button topped off with a rather dispassionate voice over.

    & the other one that springs to mind is George Pal's When Worlds Collide.

  • Comment number 61.

    I know it's not a actual movie but Ray Bradbury's Martian Cronicles has the Earth been destroyed and the only observer to it all is the guy who runs a road side diner on Mars.
    And of course Dr Who takes Rose to watch the Earth been destroyed by the Sun going Nova in the far future. Speaking of which does the Time Machine count? He travels so far in the future all life has vanished.

  • Comment number 62.

    One film that quite surprisingly takes a dark turn and depicts the end of the Earth is "Save The Green Planet" a film of which I'm still not entirely certain I liked because of it's tone changing direction. Although I'm not sure how I feel about the film, I do think that something ought to be said about that ending because, despite what I may think, I was left pretty upset to see it happen.

    SPOILER ALERT:
    Is it too soon to mention a film from this year. The one that rhymed with Shmabbin in the Woods?

    "I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened."

  • Comment number 63.

    My favorite end of the world movie is The Road. The film portrays a grim post apocalyptic world that is closing down. It might not look like an “end of the world movie” because there is no direct threat like a meteor or a planet that is going to instantly destroy the earth, but the fact that there is no more vegetation or wildlife makes it clear that in a short period everybody will die of starvation.

  • Comment number 64.

    Is anyone else looking forward to Abel Ferrara's new film, '4:44 The Last Day On Earth'? It looks very interesting, and Willem Dafoe's always worth watching. A similar idea to 'SAFFTEOTW'.

  • Comment number 65.

    It might have the artistic merit of flatulence but The Day after tomorrow had the end of the world in a way......the most noticeable thing about this question is how many action films involve this subject but I can only think of a handful of decent serious non popcorn films.Most I think will of been mentioned above.

  • Comment number 66.

    Lots of good stuff being mentioned here. I'd like to throw in Miracle Mile, a absolute GEM from 1988 starring a pre-ER, post-Top Gun Anthony Edwards. The film doesn't begin promisingly - it seems like we're in store for a very goofy, horribly 80s romantic comedy - but twenty minutes in it absolutely blindsides the audience as it suddenly, brilliantly, believably turns into a race-against-time nuclear-holocaust thriller. The film is actually full of surprises and so I will say no more, only that I sincerely hope you ALL hunt it down and watch it. By any means necessary.

    Also, one can look at David Lynch's beautiful feature debut Eraserhead as a kind of apocalyptic nightmare. It seems to be set in a recognisable but crumbling society, barren and depressed, where ordinary people struggle to cope with mundane tasks, as though their minds are gradually disintegrating along with all other organic matter throughout the universe. The imagery towards the end is ambiguous, but certainly hints at the total destruction of some kind of world. Now, I contend that that may not be the most interesting analysis of that film, but it's certainly not unreasonable.

    Eraserhead is one of the greatest films ever made, by the way.

  • Comment number 67.

    I know Mark excluded apocalyptic films, but what about one of his old favourites, 'Silent Running'?

    As far as Bruce Dern's protagonist is concerned, the planet Earth might as well have been destroyed since, for him, its defining characteristics, i.e. its flora and fauna, no longer exist, save in the gardens on his spaceship.

  • Comment number 68.

    Deep Impact - no wait, the world doesn't end in that movie, I just wanted it to. Garbage.

  • Comment number 69.

    Not Earth, I know, but Earth-like; the destruction of Alderaan in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope (much improved in the '97 Special Edition). A swine, Tarkin is! Roll on the 3D version!

  • Comment number 70.

    I agree with everyone on Dr Strangelove, its timeless. It also has the most simultaneously ludicrous/plausible chain of events leading to a nuclear war - a paranoid General attempting to foil a commie plot to contaminate our
    "precious bodily fluids" sets a chain of events in motion that cant be stopped because the nature of cold war paranoia and military bureaucracy makes the order to attack intractable .
    Ive seen clips of Threads on Charlie Brookers Screenwipe, it intrigued me, might give it a watch on youtube if its that good.

  • Comment number 71.

    Interesting comments about The Dat After. I remember reading somewhere that the film was made with the kind cooperation of the Strategic Air Command which needed funds for new bombers and missiles. The film was partly devised to create support for increased defence budgets.
    I also remember seeing the original footage used later in The Day After on YouTube --it was in a SAC information/ propaganda film made in 1981 or 1982, but I can't find it anymore.

  • Comment number 72.

    Day after. Day After.

  • Comment number 73.

    Found it! It was called First Strike. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlPEBROvR9w

  • Comment number 74.

    4.44 Last Day on Earth, as much a disaster of a movie as a disaster movie starring the usually reliable Willem Dafoe but as the title suggests very much an end of the world film.

  • Comment number 75.

    I'd say "Spoiler in the Woods" if you know what I mean.

  • Comment number 76.

    "When Worlds Collide", "Doctor Strangelove" and "The Quiet Earth" are easily the best (excluding BTPOTA, of course!).
    I think "Pandorum" had something about the world ending but I couldn't figure out much of what was happening...

    In terms of TV shows, to has to be Lexx Series IV. If only for it finally being the end of a once great series that had become reduced to slapstick nonsense.

    [Point of order: The Earth is not destroyed in the opening of "Serenity". The flashes we see are spacecraft launching on their way to the "new system". Although it is intended to make you initially believe it's a war.]

  • Comment number 77.

    A note to our American friends: - End of World = End of Earth, not just New York.

  • Comment number 78.

    #47- You mentioned The Road from 1963 by Nigel Kneale for the BBC-as you said, the beeb wiped it (insanity!) but do you know if there are any screenplays available of it? can't find one anywhere. I only know of Quartermass and Halloween3 by Kneale and The Road sounds very interesting, would love to read it!

  • Comment number 79.

    It has been years since I have watched but if I remember correctly the feature length Anime of Devil Man saw the world off on an extremely dark and malevolent way.

  • Comment number 80.

    Despicable Me 2 is a pretty concrete sign of the apocalypse.

  • Comment number 81.

    I saw 'Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World' this evening, after not listening to your show (the podcast awaits!) and didn't expect to enjoy the film. To my surprise I thought it was rather good, albeit not brilliant, so it gets my vote as Best Extinction Film I Saw Yesterday.

  • Comment number 82.

    One more vote for Miike's Dead or Alive

  • Comment number 83.

    So pleased other people have seen McKellar's Last Night. Fabulous film. Two extra things worth mentioning about it, a great, tragic performance by Cronenberg plus it introduced me to Pete Seeger singing Guantanamera, a truly beautiful song and a great singer-song writer.

  • Comment number 84.

    Night Of The Comet gets my vote. Almost everyone on earth is wiped out (the clue is in the title), leaving a couple of teenage girls to wander around and... well, have a lot of fun, mainly. It's dated and the plot is predictable, but it was intended as a parody and its a lot smarter than reviews at the time suggested. It's incredibly charming and, rather than make some sort of existential argument, it plays to your inner child and reminds you that being alone on the planet might be a right hoot.

    I Am Legend (the Will Smith version) would have been a lot better if it took a cue from Night Of The Comet. If we actually saw Will have some fun, we might have all enjoyed his company a bit more.

    This sort of 'last man (or woman) standing' fantasy has never been done brilliantly. Stephen King's novel 'The Stand' is probably the best example as it has the room to explore the minutae of how to cope in an apocalypse (how will you keep your beers cool? Put them in a stream, of course. See. Useful). Sadly the TV movie-thon of The Stand just didn't quite pull it off. Anyway, I'm digressing. I'll stop now. Night Of The Comet.

  • Comment number 85.

    I'm glad 'Miracle Mile' has been mentioned - although imperfect, it handles the apocalyptic scenario far more inventively than most films on a similar theme that I've seen. Someone also mentioned Doctor Who - in which case, how about the 1970 serial 'Inferno'? I seem to recall the earth being destroyed in a rather frightening section of the story set in a parallel universe.

    I'd also like to fly the flag for 'Knowing'; Nicolas Cage is undoubtedly the weak link, but the film as a whole was a lot more daring than it has been given credit for. I for one was gripped by it. And while we're on movies that have the courage of their convictions, how about Omen 3: the Final Conflict? [SPOILER ALERT] Yes, the Second Coming is, if you think about it, the only possible conclusion to the story, but nevertheless I found it surprising that they had the guts to pull it off. It more or less makes the film worth watching; just don't mention Omen 4...

  • Comment number 86.

    The reason there aren't so many films where the world is completely destroyed is because that would ruin the storyline. Those movies have a start, a middle, but no end. I believe an end has at least some resolution, and if the world is destroyed, there's no resolution. In those movies, the world should maybe be ALMOST completely destroyed, but eventually restored. That's a true resolution. But there's no point watching a movie where it all just ends. I think it's sort of cruel, building up a storyline, so the audience is excited for the resolution, and then it all just ends without anything. This is like the ending of The Boy In Striped Pajamas. Great movie, but the ending was like the world being destroyed.

  • Comment number 87.

    Children of Men. This film portrayed the world going out with a whimper. Not as dramatic as a comet or nuclear war, but still showed a world clawing it's way to a grim end. This film stands out as it isn't as subjective in it's point of view as other films that handle the subject matter would be, and it didn't just portray people running/looting or resort to showing the state of the world through news broadcasts. With its Itialian neo-realistic approach it incorporated the political, social and spiritual aspects of a world ending in almost every scene.

  • Comment number 88.

    I liked Titan AE, as others have said. Don Bluth always has been a little underrated when it comes to cartoon flicks. I think I've seen most of the ones mentioned here, but I can't say I liked many of them.
    When you said "had the guts" to finish the Earth off, I don't really see it as such. It seems to me that the writer is writing out of their own fear of death and the world continuing without them. There is probably a little comfort to writers (and filmgoers) of a certain slant if everyone has to face dying with the same hopelessness that they're facing it with. I'm more of the optimistic sort, so I enjoy the post-apocalyptic (excuse me, apocalyptic) films where those facing doom have a glimmer of hope to their situation. Children of Men. 28 Days Later. Even The Road opened the window to shed a little light right there at the end.
    Making a film where everyone mopes, despairs, whines and ultimately everyone dies nihilistically is... well, pointless and usually extremely pretentious (Antichrist comes to mind... you love that one don't you, Dr. K?).
    I do think the central theme of annihilation, though, stems from the writer's (or filmmaker's) feelings of their own mortality and the need to share their hopelessness. They don't want to face death alone, but we all eventually do to one degree or another. Perhaps this is why you enjoy the 'darker' slanted films? Embracing despair instead of hope? Just sayin', dude. It's like loving sad songs instead of happy ones. Or breakup/loss songs instead of 'boy meets girl' type tunes. Your particular mindset is probably what you're going to seek comfort in.
    Maybe this should have been a blog about facing mortality when you know it's eminent. There are many more films that tackle this than the much narrower theme of the Earth being destroyed to end all life.
    Favorites of mine about facing death: Groundhog Day. Sunshine. DOA. And maybe not considered a great film, but the best "I'm going to throw myself into a volcano" movie ever made: Joe Vs. The Volcano.
    One last film that again illustrates my point is Dark Water (SPOILERS FOLLOW). The filmmakers were only interested in or were only capable of nihilism, but there's not really a point to this sort of story. A couple are mistakenly left in the middle of the ocean on a diving trip. The guy is eaten by sharks. the girl drowns herself in despair. No one in their right mind goes to see a film like that, because you can pick up a newspaper and get that sam e sort of thing. 'Man eaten by shark.' 'Man shoots family. Turns gun on self.' 'Man and girlfriend get eaten by bear in woods'. I paid money to see Dark Water (partially because it was an indie flick and had 'good reviews'). Upon hearing the setup, I wondered if they would survive and how. What I got was 'They just die'. One, that's just a news story and two,I could have written that.
    So to me, this really just sounds like you're asking people what is their favorite movie about people wallowing in self pity and hopelessness? Personally, I don't really have one of those, man. To those that do. Open your curtains. Let a little light in. I think you'll feel better (Dr. K).

  • Comment number 89.

    That last bit where I said "Upon hearing the setup, I wondered if they would survive and how", I meant to say "I wondered if both would survive and how"... A little different. I clearly wasn't expecting both to die, because again, who enjoys a film where the film's payoff is "They all die and that's the point. Death conquers all."

  • Comment number 90.

    Dr. Strangelove. Not just because it's about the end of the world, but because it portrays it in such an apathetic, "who cares?" manner. Kubrick was truly a genius, and he was clearly too good for the world.

    And to go into TV realm, Futurama. Because the world ends twice in the episode "The Late Philip J. Fry". The first time, it's a truly sad, almost full on shedding tears moment, and the second time, it's funny. That's got to take some writing skill to be able to pull that off.

  • Comment number 91.

    @89 crash landen

    Thats the plot of Hamlet ! I love Hamlet, both on stage and on screen. Branaghs film is brilliant, because it has the best script ever put on paper.

  • Comment number 92.

    Dr. Strangelove - it came to mind straight away as it terrified me when I saw it as a teenager. Slim Pickens whooping as he goes with the bomb haunted me for a long time and I can hear it in my head even now!!! I joined CND not long afterwards!

  • Comment number 93.

    Has to be the classic anime Akira. It has two world destroying moments one before the story begins and one SPOILER at the end.

    The Japanese don't do things by half's!

  • Comment number 94.

    @ Crash Landen, #88: I think you mean Open Water. Dark Water is a Japanese horror film/pointless US remake.

  • Comment number 95.

    Until the End of the World?

  • Comment number 96.

    How about that wonderful British film of the 1950's set in the Daily Express News room and Battersea Park fairground called (I think) "The Day the Earth caught fire". Stars Leo McKern. It ends (sorry spoiler) with two newspaper headlines. One "Earth saved", and the second "Earth doomed"! A wonderfully haunting film. If you can find it i thoroughly recommend it.

  • Comment number 97.

    If we're talking Tv-The original Twilight Zone (my favourite series ever) had some classic end of days episodes: *spoilers*

    To Serve Man-The humans willingly being taken by the seemingly friendly aliens are actually being taken for a very different purpose. 'It's a cook book!' shouts the scientist who eventually realises.....but his efforts are in vain.

    Time enough at last- Is a beautiful episode where Burgess Meredith's lonely bookworm survives a nuclear blast by being locked in a vault. He is the only survivor but doesn't mind too much as he has time at last to read his favourite books. Of course, being the Twilight Zone, he suffers a particularly cruel twist of fate!

    The Midnight Sun- A lady dreams that the Earth is moving towards the sun and everything is gradually getting hotter and hotter to the point of it being unbearable. It was only a dream, but when she awakes the opposite is true! the Earth is moving away from the sun and everyone will freeze to death!

    The writing on the first few series is incomparable. No wonder it's been pilfered so readily by Hollywood!

  • Comment number 98.

    For me it's The Day the Earth Caught Fire. (SPOILER) According to Val Guest the church bells at the end of the film were added by Universal to suggest the earth was saved so technically, the director and everyone involved making the film may have been under the impression the world had indeed ended.
    Leo McKern also has one of the great lines of cinema:
    "They've shifted the tilt of the earth, the stupid; crazy; irresponsible b*****ds!"
    ...which in the trailer they dubbed into:
    "They've shifted the tilt of the earth, the stupid; crazy; irresponsible bunglers!"

    Great film.

  • Comment number 99.

    After thought:
    Inglourious Bunglers?

  • Comment number 100.

    My favourites are:
    Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
    Serenity (it begins with Earth being destroyed)
    Beneath the Planet of the Apes – my favourite of the series

    I'd like to put The Terminator/Terminator 2 in, simply because of what happens on Judgement Day, but people survive to form the resistance and fight against the machines. Also, 12 Monkeys were the Earth isn't destroyed, but you know humanity is going to be virtually wiped out by the virus unleashed at the end.

 

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