IT’S THE END AS WE KNOW IT!!! Film History and Apocalyptic Narratives

Institution: Carleton University (Tory Building 202)
Category: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Language: English

Course Description

The end of the world always seems to be around the corner..... Truth is, the world has
ended over and over again at least 10000 times! Throughout history, movies have
immortalized visuals of the world being destroyed by crazy monkeys that can speak English,
a weird virus that turns you into a walking sleeping beauty, outer space friends that aren't
that friendly at all, you name it! In fact, in the last decade, most of the highest-grossing films
have been apocalyptic fantasies. Movies like “Avengers: Endgame,”, “World War Z”, “Mad
Max: Fury Road”, "Jurassic World,” point out in one way or another, the END OF THE
WORLD. It is undeniable that there is a human predilection for experiencing total
catastrophe; however, it is important to remember that all around the world, people have
used cinema to imagine the apocalypse in many different ways.

The main objective of this course is to explore cinematic depictions of the END OF THE
WORLD beyond common Hollywood stereotypes. Therefore, how the apocalypse is
conceived differently in multiple cultures and how these representations are signs of the
times. We will watch apocalyptic movies, discuss, and write a short fiction story. This will
facilitate students to engage in debate with one another and sharpen their critical thinking
skills through challenging big questions!

We will observe how each apocalyptic narrative is actually a means to understand the
symptoms of a specific historical socio-cultural era, a determined cosmovision, and, at the
same time, a critique of the surrounding system. For instance, invader brain-eating aliens
address the terrors committed by the bloodiest Latino dictatorship , Human-hive zombies
refer to technological manipulation since the 1930s in the Middle East, and unstoppable
tsunamis and earthquakes speak of the profound crisis of depression in an aging Asian

We will also forge connections between film and how we relate to ourselves and others in
society. This way, the course aims for students to question their own conceptions of "end of
the world" scenarios. For instance, a small creative writing dynamic will help identify the
sources where our apocalyptic images come from. This way, we will be able to understand
how our personal understandings of the “END” manifest our own fears and anxieties, as well
as the impact of cultural background.