Apocalypse scenarios in cinema

What are the most common ''the end of the world'' scenarios in cinema? Let's find out!

Apocalypse scenarios in cinema

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Due to the current state of affairs, we would like to digress a bit and talk to you again about cinema. Art, and therefore cinema, has always been a reflection of human experiences, namely fears. That's why we love horror films: they give us a glimpse of what we're so afraid of, but... also of what we're interested in anyway. Horrors play with our emotions and experiences because they are radical expressions of our fear. What about the end of the world? The apocalypse? Why do we so sidestep an entire sub-genre of films in which humanity comes to an end? In our opinion, that's not fair, because end-of-the-world movies are as diverse as horror movies. And nowadays the theme of the end of the world is closer to us than anthropomorphic monsters and insane maniacs. So, today we will talk about a few of the brightest types of apocalyptic movies.

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We fear what we cannot control, and that is nature. Man has been fighting against nature all his life by building new cities and factories, but sooner or later everything old is swallowed up by nature. Man understands this, which is why, for example, we are so afraid of the consequences of global warming. In movies, this is expressed in a more, shall we say, radical way, because the changes shown there are not only destructive but also extremely lethal. And the scenario for these films is similar: suddenly people discover that cataclysm is inevitable, but they do it too late. Then we are shown hysteria to build up the suspense, and afterwards a lot of computer graphics, how epically and dramatically cities are destroyed. Here are some of the films like this.

"The Day After Tomorrow" (2004)

In this film director Roland Emmerich decided to show how the Earth faces a global environmental catastrophe: in one part of the world all living things die of drought, in another part the unstoppable water element destroys the cities. The director himself deserves a special mention here, as Emmerich is considered one of the foremost directors of the apocalypse. His style is to portray human nature through global and devastating cataclysms. In "The Day After Tomorrow", the final focus remains precisely on human relationships: how exactly they can survive in the new conditions.

In another Emmerichs' blockbuster, "2012", the director also focuses on how people try to survive - and this is rather the scariest thing about his films. Against the backdrop of crumbling cities in which thousands of people die in a second, the director focuses on individuals who turn into true predators in the midst of the destruction, while others become heroes and sacrifice themselves. Yes, it may be a primitive dramatisation, but it works well.

"The Day After Tomorrow" and "2012" are certainly cool blockbusters, but the industry knows examples of how to create a film about cataclysm through a chamber and even personal story. A recent film on AppleTV "Finch", for example, tells the story of a world where the ozone layer has collapsed and the sun has literally scorched every living thing, but director Miguel Sapochnik doesn't reveal the film's problem to us directly. The viewer is led from the private relationship between Finch and his dog, to the general problem of humanity, namely cataclysm. In general, no film about a devastating cataclysm can do without a human perspective, because otherwise it would be uninteresting to watch. In a feature film, the viewer needs a person on screen because they need to associate themselves with someone. And Finch is probably one of the most "human" characters of this sub-genre. We suggest you watch it, but beware: the finale may bring tears to your eyes.

Alien threat

Well, that's pretty straightforward. This classification can encompass many sub-genres, the main one being, of course, science fiction. A large number of films can then be attributed to the general alien menace scenario, from "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (1982) to "Paul" (2011). However, in this section we will only highlight those pictures that show the most damage from human-alien combat: oddly enough, most of these films come from Hollywood.

So, once again, we can't help but mention the name of director Roland Emmerich, who also managed to distinguish himself with his alien invasion fantasy. "Independence Day" (1996) is a sci-fi action film, in which the US rebels against space invaders. The film clearly stresses patriotism, even its title says it all. "Independence Day" is a story about how America, represented by the heroic Will Smith's character, fights back against the aliens all by himself. It's a simple but cool blockbuster that will keep you entertained for an evening.

Another standout is Steven Spielberg's "War of the Worlds" (2005), which, while essentially a blockbuster, is still a strong dramatic picture rather than an entertaining one. Spielberg is renowned as a master of the universal cinema: he is able to create large-scale and expensive dense films while retaining his characteristic sensitivity for drama and directing. This is also inherent in "War of the Worlds", which, as if to counterbalance "Independence Day", doesn't show a man fighting against invaders - it shows him fighting for his life. This is what makes the film so special: the protagonist is a coward, he runs away from death the whole film, and this journey perfectly shows not only most of the human flaws, but also the development of Tom Cruise's character.

Zombie movies

Generally speaking, the reason people came up with the idea of bringing dead bodies back to life on screen is a separate story that could lead us into mythology. But the fact is that the zombie film genre is so popular that it has seen both a wave of incredible success and a wave of decline brought on by a glut of such films on the market. For us, however, it's important to mention that many people associate the phrase "the end of the world" with the zombie apocalypse. After all, what could be more frightening than a wave of bloodthirsty and mindless dead?

It's almost impossible to list all the films, good and bad, but we'll try to highlight a few. Firstly, the "Walking Dead" series, which is based on the comic book of the same name. Although it's not a movie, the series as well as the comic book is iconic not only for its genre, but for pop culture in general. The level of detail in the world of the series is astounding and the cast is some of the best in the history of television. Even though by the end of the series the plot has slipped into self-repeat, but the first few episodes are definitely worth your attention.

Another landmark work is "28 Days Later..." Danny Boyle. In "28 Days Later...", a deadly virus forces the entire UK to evacuate and flee from death. The film is based on the story of a deadly virus that turns people into zombies, but as it turns out, that's not the main thing. "28 Days Later..". - is an example when a small budget plays to the film's advantage, as it focuses on how people survive and fight to stay alive. As a bonus, the viewer gets the exceptionally stylish camerawork and editing for which Danny Boyle is famous.

"World War Z" (2013)

Nope, this is not a film where Russia invades a foreign country - this is another film about a virus that turns people into zombies. What makes it special is how abruptly events unfold: in the first five minutes of the film an epidemic begins and we, along with the characters, don't understand the source or why people are turning into zombies in the first place. And this effect of surprise and suspense follows us throughout the film. It's also an interesting adventure as Brad Pitt's character tries to find an antidote.

Director Marc Forster manages to make a very realistic version of the zombie apocalypse, which makes the film strikingly different from most. However, we can't help but notice the conceptual similarities between "World War Z" and "28 Days Later..."


Satire is an even more complex genre than end-of-the-world movies, as mockery has no boundaries. In addition, everything that is popular is a victim of satire, and blockbusters about the end of the world appear every two years. Satire is such a diverse and interesting genre that it deserves its own material, which we have, incidentally.

Nevertheless, we want to mention the main representatives that are relevant to our topic. Among the most iconic satires over the apocalypse are Edgar Wright's "The World's End" and Seth Rogen's "This Is the End", as a critique of big-budget cinema about the demise of the planet.

Then, of course, there's "Zombieland", which mocks Hollywood's parasitization of the zombie movie genre. There are many more films to be highlighted here, but we'll mention our favourite Jim Jarmusch with "The Dead Don't Die", which ironically reveals how these films are made in the first place.

And we end our list with two legendary political satires: "Don't Look Up" (2021) and "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb" (1963). If you watch these films, it will be obvious that they are different, because "Don't Look Up" is a commentary on a movie like 2012; and Stanley Kubrick's film mocks the Cold War hysteria that we know could have led to nuclear war.


We all think the world is so crazy and everything that is going on right now is absurd, so we decided to write this slightly ironic blog. We looked at the main apocalypse scenarios and, as you can see, there are many. So take your pick and leave your feedback. In any darkest of times, only people and their support can change the agenda. Unfortunately, one version of the apocalypse seems to be unfolding before our eyes. We want to share with you one of the videos made by Ukrainian filmmakers as part of the fight against propaganda, and therefore against war. No to war!

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