Ending Credits

The end of the world as a theme in literature is not new. It is one of the most constant in European civilization. But the number of films dealing with the end of the world seems to have grown. This is the End, It’s a Disaster, Melancholia and many zombie films show how the public is interested in the world meeting a messy end in a number of ways.

According to this not entirely complete list, the number of apocalyptic films from 2000 to 2009 is almost double the number from the previous decade. And this decade, which isn’t over, already has more than the 90s. If the trend continues, there should be twice as many at the end of this decade as there were in the last.

Not only are there more end of the world films, they represent many more genres. Horror in the form of zombie movies stands perhaps as the single largest group. However even within that, you have thrillers such as 28 Days Later, action films such as World War Z, animated films such as WALL-E and a romantic comedy in the form of Shaun of the Dead. In fact there seem to be more comedies about the end of the world. It’s a Disaster imagines how a dysfunctional group of 20-somethings would respond to a terrorist attack. World’s End imagines the end of the world as part of a pub crawl. All these films came out in the last couple of years.

To tap into something is to use a resource for your benefit.

So why this interest in the end? First of all, as I said at the beginning, it is not so new. Humanity has thought about the collapse of civilization from the moment it knew what civilization was. When we look at the number of end of the world prophecies we see that the number of prophecies grew from 2000 to 2012. From this time there has been an end of the world prediction for each year. It jumped to four for 2011 and six for 2012, including the so-called Mayan prophesy, which was really just a big misunderstanding of the Mayan calendar. Could these films and prophesies tap into the same mood?

If something is cathartic it is beneficial or healing.

Pop culture tends to follow economics. When times are good, films with positive messages are more successful. But now we have uncertain economic times so people see the end of the world, whether from zombies, aliens or a meteor. But more importantly, cinema allows them to experience a little bit of the end without really dealing with the consequences. The world is destroyed. The credits are shown and the audience go and have a drink and see friends. It’s a cathartic experience which goes back to tragedy. We enjoy only watching destruction and we enjoy it more when that destruction feels like it could really happen.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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Ending Credits Quiz: Medium

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The end of the world in pop culture is quite popular. But the number of films about it are growing and growing. This is the End, It’s a Disaster, Melancholia and many zombie films show how the public is interested in the world meeting a messy end in a number of ways.

According to this not entirely complete list, there are almost twice as many apocalyptic films in this decade than in the previous one. And this decade, which isn’t over, already has more than the 90s.

Not only are there more end of the world films, they represent many more genres. Horror in the form of zombie movies is probably the most common. But there are many thrillers such as 28 Days Later or action films such as World War Z. But the end of the world can also be an animated film such as WALL-E or a romantic comedy like Shaun of the Dead. There are probably more comedies about the end of the world. It’s a Disaster imagines how a dysfunctional group of 20-somethings would respond to a terrorist attack. World’s End imagines the end of the world as part of a pub crawl. All these films came out in the last couple of years.

To tap into something is to use a resource for your benefit.

So why this interest in the end? First of all, humanity thought about the end of civilization from the moment it knew what civilization was. There are so many prophecies, that if they were true, the world would probably end every year. Could these films and prophesies tap into the same mood?

Pop culture usually follows economics. When times are good, films with positive messages are more successful. But now we have uncertain economic times so people see the end of the world, whether from zombies, aliens or a meteor. But more importantly, cinema allows them to experience a little bit of the end without really dealing with the consequences. The world is destroyed. The credits are shown and the audience goes and has a drink and sees friends. We enjoy only watching destruction and we enjoy it more when that destruction feels like it could really happen.

Original article by Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia. Text edited by The Word’s methodology team

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Ending Credits Quiz: Mild

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The end of the world as a theme in literature is hardly new. In fact, it is one of the most constant in European civilization. The Old Testament had Noah’s flood which, according to Biblical legend, erased the then-known world in a flood, and the New Testament contains the Book of Revelations which purports to describe the end of the world. Scandinavian mythology spoke of Ragnarök, which involved battles between the Norse Gods and the destruction of the world also by water. Yet, the number of films dealing with the end of the world appears to have grown. This is the End, It’s a Disaster, Melancholia and countless zombie films show the public’s fascination with humanity meeting a messy end in a number of ways.

According to this not entirely complete list, the number of apocalyptic films from 2000 to 2009 is almost double the number of from the previous decade. And this decade, which isn’t over, already has more than the 90s. If the trend continues, there should be twice as many at the end of this decade as there were in the last. One reason could be that more films are being made, except that isn’t true, at least not in the US. The number of films made in the US has been going down, so the greater number of doomsday films represents a bigger proportion, however slight, of all films.

Not only are there more end of the world films, they represent many more genres. Horror in the form of zombie movies stands perhaps as the single largest group. However even within that, you have thrillers such as 28 Days Later, or action films such as World War Z and a romantic comedy in the form of Shaun of the Dead. In fact a comic approach to the end of the world seems to be on the rise. It’s a Disaster imagines how a dysfunctional group of 20-somethings would respond to a terrorist attack. World’s End imagines the end of the world as part of a pub crawl. And then there are animated films such as WALL-E. All these films came out in the last couple of years.

Not only is the theme being tackled in different genres, it is being tackled by a variety of directors. Melancholia, in which a mysterious planet is on a collision course with Earth, is directed by the Danish experimental director Lars Von Trier. Steven Soderbergh, who is known for his artistic versatility, directed the film Contagion, about a disease which nearly wipes out the human race.

So why this interest in the end? First of all, as I said at the beginning, it is not so new. Humanity has pondered the collapse of civilization from the moment it had a concept of civilization. WALL-E and World War Z have been the most commercially successful and this may have a lot do with their leads – an undeniable heartthrob and a fairly well-respected actor. But these films are certainly more noticeable.

Gross can mean disgusting. As it is used here though it means major or significant.

Interestingly, when we look at the number of end of the world prophecies we see that the number of prophecies grew from 2000 to 2012. I can see why people would want to see 2000 as an end. It’s a nice round number, and though the numbers are arbitrary, we humans like to fit events into neat periods, especially when we invent these events. From this time there has been an end of the world prediction for each year which jumped to four for 2011 and six for 2012, including the so-called Mayan prophesy, which was really just a gross misunderstanding of the Mayan calendar. Could these films and prophesies tap into the same mood? And if so what is it?

Pop culture tends to follow economics. In times of prosperity films with positive messages are more successful. In these still uncertain economic times people see the end of the world, whether at the hands of zombies, aliens or a meteor as capturing their feeling of dread. But more importantly, cinema allows them to experience some sense of the end without really dealing with the consequences. The world is destroyed. The credits roll and the audience go and have a drink and see friends. It’s a cathartic experience which goes back to tragedy. We enjoy theatrical representation of destruction and we enjoy it all the more when that destruction feels oddly imminent.

A slasher film is a horror film when many people are killed in a gruesome way and there is a lot of blood. Think of Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th.

The end of the world will be around as a theme as long as there is a world in which people can make films and tell stories. How long its current popularity will last will depend on the world beyond the big screen. If we see a change, we’ll be looking back on this trend the same way we look at musicals from the 50s or slasher films from the 70s and 80s – as a sign of the times. If we remain in economic doldrums then the genre will have some more wind in it.

Ryan Scott – Sydney, Australia

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Ending Credits Quiz: Spicy

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