It seems 2013 is the year Hollywood took Stephen Hawking, the world’s leading theoretical physicist, to heart. “The human race shouldn’t have all its eggs in one basket, or on one planet,” he says, suggesting that if we don’t change our ways we “might end up like Venus, at 250 degrees centigrade and raining sulphuric acid.”
No fewer than three upcoming movies portray the Earth meeting an untimely end.
After Earth sees Will and Jaden Smith star as a father and son who crash land on Earth after an alien war has left the planet dead and abandoned. A Seth Rogen comedy aptly titled This is the End sees a cast of young A-listers — like Jay Baruchel, James Franco, Paul Rudd and Emma Watson — at a Hollywood party when the world suddenly ends.
This weekend Tom Cruise brings us Oblivion, another story about a scorched Earth, which Cruise’s character, a drone maintenance man, discovers the planet might not be completely abandoned.
It’s the end of the world as we know it, at least according to Hawking and Hollywood, but it isn’t the first time the world has ended, on screen anyway.
Coming a just half a dozen years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Five goes down in the almanac as the first sci-fi nuclear war film. It’s set in a world destroyed by nuclear holocaust. The only five Americans to survive include a pregnant woman and her unborn baby, a neo-Nazi, an African-American man and a bank clerk. The story of subsistence and racial intolerance is an influential movie — Roger Corman and several others have borrowed the basic plot line — but its director, Arch Oboler, was a radio producer and the film is as visually interesting as you would guess a movie made by a sound engineer to be.
The Bed Sitting Room is a British take on Five, only with jokes instead of Oboler’s earnest message. Starring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, it’s set in a post-nuclear-holocaust London following the Second World War. The war lasted only two minutes and 28 seconds before the bomb was dropped, leaving this strange group of survivors, including a civilian who is next in line for the throne, to explore their devastated city.
So far we’ve talked about serious and strange end of the world movies, but how about a silly one? That would be Savage Planet, an abandoned Earth movie that sees the planet taken over by giant killer space bears!
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