Apocalypse: Looking Through the Lens of Fear

Looking at different books and films of the apocalypse, there seems to be a significance of truth to these concepts. The idea of an apocalypse does not necessarily mean that the world is ending or that the world will be in desolation, but it could just mean an end to an era. The word “apocalypse” is used fairly loosely in describing what one thinks the world will be in the future.

In examining the film World War Z,[1] it is clearly evident that a world epidemic is happening in New York City resulting from a viral outbreak, thus leading to zombies. As the characters scramble for a cure, those infected with the virus try to infect others to spread this disease throughout the world. We can look at this from the perspective of fear; we, as humans, fear a disease that could potentially wipe out the human race, and we strive to keep our species alive. It’s applicable that this type of apocalypse seems appealing, not only from the point that it is fictional, but also because it has some minor truth to it. Advances in modern medicine and genetic engineering has caused many to fear what would happen if a virus got out of a lab somewhere. So, there is a direct relationship in today’s society why this apocalypse is relevant today.

When analyzing the film Book of Eli,[2] we see a correlation between why that apocalypse happened and why it is a significant study today. The idea in this film is that the earth was scorched by a world war, nuclear warfare, which created a world of scarce food and water. The characters struggle to find fresh water, and find things like Chap Stick to be very valuable. The world they live in looks to be a desert ruin, covered with deserted cars, while trying to survive the raids that gangs will perform for any kind of supplies. If we take that apocalyptic world and apply the significance to today, we see that a nuclear war is not far off. During the Cold War, it was literally fighting for who could make the biggest bomb, so this movie idea was not far from actual truth in the fact that people were concerned that one country was going to destroy the world just to prove a point. Even today with laws and restrictions governing that there will be no arms race, it is still evident that other countries are still making these nuclear weapons. So, the fear is very real, no matter how fictional an apocalyptic world may be.

There are many films to examine; however, I will draw attention to one last film, and that is The Planet of the Apes.[3] In this film, obviously from the title, we can gather that the world is run by apes, who treat humans as if we treat apes now (experiments, zoos, etc.). This type of apocalypse is different from the others in that there is very little truth in it. To us, apes could never gain the intelligence to outsmart humans, but what’s is interesting with the newest films of this type is that the apes could not come up with the intelligence themselves, that it was originally a trial for a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease, but that actually made the apes intelligent. So, even though this idea is little more fictional, it still has the same concept as a viral disease would, but instead of infecting humans it infects primates.

In conclusion, it is interesting to think through different lenses when discussing how an apocalypse may or may not happen, and how valid these ideas are in today’s views. There is a correlation with fear and the apocalypse and that there is a truth to all these concepts to a certain extent, whether it’s a topic on Global Warming, Zombie Apocalypse, or a planet run by apes. When thinking about each concept, it’s important to think about how these different ideas came to mind in the writers; there is a simple truth to all of them and looking at the time in which they are written can show why “this” apocalypse is more appealing than another.

[1] World War Z. Dir. Marc Forster. Perf. Brad Pitt. Universal Pictures, 2013. DVD.

[2] The Book of Eli. Dir. Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes. Prod. Joel Silver and Denzel Washington. By Gary Whitta. Perf. Denzel Washington, Gary Oldman, and Mila Kunis. Warner Bros., 2010.

[3] Planet of the Apes. Dir. Franklin J. Schaffner. Perf. Charlton Heston. 1968.


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