Apocalypses have a thousand faces. But no worries, we’re not there yet. The Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival will take place next September and apocalyptic and survivalist thinking will be confined to the screen. But in keeping with the theme for the moment and to occupy your time during long days and nights, here’s a list of evocative films to explore.
The World, the Flesh and the Devil – Ranald McDougall, 1959, USA
One of the first post-apocalyptic films to deal frontally with our fear of an H-bomb explosion and its aftermath. The strength of the film lies in its transposition of 1950s topical issues, such as racial segregation and the life of the couple, into the future. A curiosity that provides insight into the way people saw the end of time back in 1959.
The Road – John Hillcoat, 2009, USA
The Road is an adaptation of the Cormac McCarthy novel about a devasted and weary world in the wake of an environmental accident. Sensorial perceptions and emotions run high as a father (Viggo Mortensen) and his son painfully drudge their way across a hellish America. This powerful film from Australian director John Hillcoat, a rare and brilliant filmmaker, is more than worthy of McCarthy’s magnificent opus.
Light of My Life – Casey Affleck, 2019, USA
Casey Affleck’s second feature was/is set for French release in the coming weeks. So, hopefully, if you’re not fed up with solitude, you can soon catch this intimist, post-apocalyptic film in a movie theatre. Affleck’s sensitive and anguishing portrayal of a world without women is a perfectly credible one.
La Jetée – Chris Marker, 1962, France and 12 Monkeys – Terry Gilliam, 1995, USA
A man witnesses someone’s death in an airport, as if he’s watching a loop of endlessly repeating photographs. La Jetée, a short film from multi-talented and visionary filmmaker Chris Marker, is a melancholic reflection on time and regard. Terry Gilliam expands on these themes in 12 Monkeys. Less poetic than Marker’s film, its brilliance lies in its suspense and growing anguished tension. Two mirroring films that invite comparison.
Terminus – Pierre William Glenn, 1987, France
Just few words to arouse your curiosity: A peroxide-blonde Johnny Halliday in a Frenchie version of Mad Max, with Karen Allen, and Marion Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark. Are you in? Let it not be said that talented DP Pierre William Glenn lacked ambition in shooting Terminus. As for the rest, we’ll let you decide for yourselves.