Why do they captivate us?
From ravage zombies and terrorist attacks to unknown aliens, why is it that we are so eager to see the end of the world we know so well? Jordan Ng investigates.
Civil wars. Natural disasters. Urban riots. Terrorist attacks. The past years have seen many calamities all over the world so it makes sense that people would wish to escape these unnerving realities. So why is it, that we find exaggerated versions of these climatic events in our cinemas?
In the recent blockbuster World War Z, we see herds of zombies relentlessly trying to take over our human race. Again in the new Superman movie, Man Of Steel, we see entire cities being destroyed, populations wiped out. Once a rarity, these disaster movies have now become a modern trend.
Some people will go to see an apocalyptic film for the joy of seeing things getting demolished. Others are able to appreciate the brilliance of the modern special effects. The apocalyptic film is universally understandable; being easily converted into other languages due to the minimal use of words, yet I believe there is much more that drives this hunger to see the end of the world.
There are numerous theories as to why moviegoers have an obsession with apocalyptic movies. Film expert and critic Wheeler Winston Dixon believes, “People go to disaster movies to prove to themselves that they can go through the worst possible experience but somehow they’re immortal.” People want to reaffirm to themselves that they will survive, that they will make it through.
Another theory to why we watch the apocalyptic film is that through being able to explore our human anxieties, people wish to over come them. Through the zombies, Marc Foster (Director of World War Z) is able to symbolise overpopulation and the effects of depleting resources. This image also draws out our fear of being taken over by the group, and losing our individual personalities explored as people are taken over by the “zombie disease”, losing all their personal character. Being able to have a cathartic experience and to dwell on our fears knowing that in a few hours time, everything will be back to normal is one reason why people go to watch apocalyptic films.
Other theories explain that it is our frustration with political issues and their negative influence in certain periods that drives us to watch apocalyptic films. As American poet Richard Armour puts it, “Politics, it seems to me, for years, or all too long, has been concerned with right or left instead of right or wrong.” This exasperation could lead people to the movies, as they wish to see people in power fall. This is evident in the new movie “White House Down” as you see the American White House along with the whole of Washington D.C destroyed, the