There have been many stories written about the apocalypse or the end of human civilization. They often focus on man’s struggle to avoid annihilation. "War of the Worlds", by H.G. Wells and "Independence Day", directed by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, are examples of the unique qualities of films concerning the end of human civilization. Such Apocalyptic films offer a unique perspective on human character in an extreme setting.
Apocalyptic stories are unique because there is no historical event to use as a reference. There have been events where a small group has faced annihilation but humanity as a species has never faced assured destruction. During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1963, there was some belief that any use of force could trigger a nuclear holocaust. However, few people knew how close the United States and the Soviet Union were to nuclear war. There are no examples of the entire human species facing annihilation.
Doomsday stories are common in literature on a smaller scale. Movies such as "Remember the Alamo", "Gettysburg", and "Saving Private Ryan" have characters that face death or destruction, but they face it with bravery and honor. Audiences respect and admire such behavior when one faces death. Apocalyptic stories are an expanded form of this type of writing. They are stories where humanity as a whole can be admired for their positive attributes in addition to the bravery or focus on one hero or heroine.
It is not often that one characterizes the entire human race. Usually we divide into cultural or political units and then we evaluate them as a group. We can be organized or divided by religion, social class, political allegiance, cultural beliefs and physical appearance. For example, Ja...
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... hero or protagonist, are allocated to several characters or sometimes on all of man. The allocation of qualities among more then one character can often be more profound then a typical story. Combined with the threat of total annihilation of humanity and its culture, Apocalyptic Films and the situations they pose, are very unique.
Independence Day. Dir. Dean Devlin, Roland Emmerich. 20th Century Fox, 1997.
War of the Worlds. Dir. Byron Haskin. Perf. Gene Barry. Paramount Pictures, 1952.
Mullen, R. D. "The definitive War of the worlds". Science-Fiction Studies. v. 20, Nov. 1993, p. 440-3.
Seed, David. "A critical edition of the War of the worlds; H.G. Wells's scientific romance". Essays in Criticism. v. 44, July 1994, p. 258-64.
Strozier, Charles B. Apocalypse : on the psychology of fundamentalism in America. Boston: Beacon Press, 1994.
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