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Five Movies About the End of the World

Don't Look Up Dr. Strangelove retreat The Day After Tomorrow The Sacrifice When the Wind Blows
Five Movies About the End of the World
written by
Nada Medhat

Adam Mckay’s latest cinematic work, “Don’t Look Up”, was released in late 2021, and the hype was strong. The basic premise of the movie is that two low-level astronomers must go on a giant media tour to warn humanity of an approaching comet that will destroy the Earth. The uniquely absurd take on the movie is perhaps what makes it stand out among others in the apocalypse genre. However, we wanted you to judge for yourselves. Here are five movies that discuss the end of the world

When the Wind Blows (1986)

Despite common belief, humans have been theorising, thinking, stressing, or laughing about the end of the world long before the Cold War. This is why we can’t completely blame or thank the Cold War and the promise of nuclear power to end all life for this genre. But the influence is, of course, unmistakable.

Near the end of the Cold War, this British film directed by Jimmy Murakami stood out against the usual high-action, CGI-heavy, running-and-screaming poster look of the genre. The film’s approach is much gentler and quieter than usual, both in content and style. Most of the animation is simple and hand-drawn, and the story follows a rural English couple’s attempt to survive a nearby nuclear attack while maintaining a sense of normality against the impending tragedy.



Retreat (2011) 

Both the “madman” and the “apocalypse” genres are western cinema favourites. But it’s rare to find a movie that combines both so masterfully, forcing characters and the audience to question what is happening. This Cillian Murphy 2011 thriller hangs on the premise of a couple on a holiday retreat on an isolated island. They are visited by a soldier who tells them that they are survivors of a fatal airborne disease that is sweeping over the entire world. However, as the film progresses, the couple wonders if the disease is real or a lie told by a madman who wants to isolate them. Watch and figure out!


The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

A classic blockbuster! Who hasn’t watched this movie countless times in the good old days? It’s a classic worth revisiting now. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, the plot revolves around a group of characters navigating catastrophic climatic effects following the disruption of the North Atlantic drift. A series of extreme weather events open the door for global cooling and leads to a new ice age. The film received some backlash due to its fallacies, scientific inaccuracies, and general “silliness” as some critics have said for the outstanding (for its time) use of visual effects. But despite that, the movie is still quite enjoyable.


The Sacrifice (1986)

The Sacrifice is the last film made by Andrei Tarkovsky and a solid end to his brilliant cinematic career. Unsurprisingly highly philosophical and spiritual in nature, it’s another movie that is quite unlike the other blockbuster disaster films. The movie deals with the apocalypse and the aftermath, with the plot revolving around an agnostic man who, upon learning that the world is coming end, makes a deal with God that he’ll give up everything he loves in life if the inevitable nuclear disaster can be stopped.

Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964) 

You wouldn’t expect a movie widely considered to be one of the funniest movies of all time to be about the nuclear war, especially not one made during a time when the fear of a nuclear strike was at its peak. But as it often is the case with Kubrick, he exceeds expectations. The black comedy, written and directed by him, satirises the Cold War, where the plot revolves around a mad general of the United States Air Force who initiates nuclear war by ordering the first strike of a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union. Then, in a sitcomish manner, the movie follows the President of the United States and his advisors as they try to stop the crew of the plane from bombing the Soviets.