Tonight’s Contenders: Apocalypse!

Two minutes to midnight

The hands that threaten doom

Iron Maiden, Two Minutes to Midnight – August 6, 1984

News broke this morning that members of the Science and Security Board of the Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists have moved the Doomsday Clock two minutes closer to midnight, putting us three minutes from global disaster. While it’s no Cuban Missile Crisis, we haven’t been this close to midnight on the doomsday clock since 1984 during the first gulf war, when Reagan deployed medium-range ballistic missiles in western Europe. With times so dire, it seems fitting that we take our minds off our impending doom with a movie that takes place either during or shortly after the apocalypse.

The apocalyptic movie is a time-honoured Hollywood tradition, spanning as far back as the Second World War Two and the invention of the atomic bomb. Writers have mused for years about the possibility of a major global event that wipes out all of or a vast majority of mankind and as technology and time advances, humanity keeps coming up with new ways to remove ourselves from existence. We could die by something as large scale and unavoidable as a meteorite hitting the earth. We could be the creators of our own doomsday and finally drop the bomb, rendering our world unlivable. It could even be something as mundane as reliance on antibiotics that is our eventual undoing, with the world dying of a drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea.

Tonight we sit down and face our fragile mortality with a film that reminds us how fragile our existence really is, and how easily we could find ourselves removed from the universe. The films we have on the docket will leave us asking, What will be our undoing? How can we avoid it? What would we do in an apocalyptic event? and, in the cosmic sense, would it even matter?


Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981 – 91min): In the post-apocalyptic Australian wasteland, a cynical drifter agrees to help a small, gasoline rich, community escape a band of bandits.

The Quiet Earth (1985 – 91min): A man named Zac Hobson awakens to find himself alone in the world

The Omega Man (1971 – 98min): Army doctor Robert Neville struggles to create a cure for the plague that wiped out most of the human race.

On the Beach (1959 – 139min): After a global nuclear war, the residents of Australia must come to terms with the fact that all life will be destroyed in a matter of months.

The Andromeda Strain (1971 – 131min): A group of scientists investigates a deadly new alien virus before it can spread.

A Boy and His Dog (1975 – 91min): In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a boy communicates telepathically with his dog as they scavenge for food and sex.

Night of the Comet (1984 – 95min): A comet wipes out most of life on Earth, leaving two Valley Girls to fight the evil types who survive.

Take Shelter (2011 – 120min): Plagued by a series of apocalyptic visions, a young husband and father questions whether to shelter his family from a coming storm, or from himself.

Apocalypto (2006 – 139min): As the Mayan kingdom faces its decline, the rulers insist the key to prosperity is to build more temples and offer human sacrifices. Jaguar Paw, a young man captured for sacrifice, flees to avoid his fate.

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