Well, it takes the role of the monasteries in keeping knowledge alive during
the Middle Ages and projects it into the future where reaction to a nuclear
war has given rise to "simplification" and an order of monks is dedicated to
preserving information they not longer understand. Think of a richly
illuminated copy of a circuit board diagram.
Set in a Roman Catholic monastery in the desert of the Southwestern United States after a devastating nuclear war, the story spans thousands of years as civilization rebuilds itself. The monks of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz take up the mission of preserving the surviving remnants of man's scientific knowledge until the day the outside world is again ready for it.
Tue 9 Jun, 2009 05:20 pm
I never knew that there was a movie of "Canticle". It seems to me that this, like STephen Kings Wasteland series, wouldnt convert to the screen very well.
When was this made? I tried finding it on Netflix and got nothin. ARe you sure theres a movie?
don't the farmer dude remind me of Ol' Red , my neighbor's coon hound?...he gets a scent and man....he's gone
Tue 9 Jun, 2009 05:35 pm
I dont think so. If it were made in the full epic of Canticle, it would become a really surficial treatment of the story (anybody remember James Clavells SHOGUN") When they did the tv movie of Shogun, it was so flimsy and stuck together with spit. I think CAnticle would be of the same ilk. Unless , of course, it would be made as a many part TV epic like Lonesome Dove. Sci fi, as epic tv needs to be carefully crafted because most of the TV adaptations (like DUNE) turned out to be almost unwatcheable.
PS , I went back a page and saw that Canticle was just being fondly remembered and being proposed as a movie. It was one of my all tim fav sci fi books, like Moat of The Gods
If it were made in the full epic of Canticle, it would become a really surficial treatment of the story (anybody remember James Clavells SHOGUN")
You make a good point there, but I think it would apply to almost any attempt
to bring a book to film.
Wed 10 Jun, 2009 04:14 pm
Great list. I've missed a couple (clicking over to netflix)
Wed 10 Jun, 2009 10:27 pm
Actually, the last episode of the fifth year of Babylon 5 used the same premise as that of "Canticle," civilization nutured by a religious order of monks. The writer, J. Michael Straczynski readily admits the homage in an interview shown as a special feature on the DVD set of season 5.
Mon 15 Jun, 2009 03:16 am
OK, post-apocalyptic flicks:
- Z.P.G. (1972), zero population growth is law after a nuclear Armageddon
- Silent Running (1972) , sci-fi based on earth having been wasted
- Il seme dell'uomo (1969, the seed of man), Ferreri's take on the sudden end of the world as we know it.
- Soylent Green (1973), overpopulation is the disaster
- The Day After (1983), not so much post-apocalyptic, but then again, neither is When the Wind Blows.
- The Day of the Triffids (1962), a bit aged now, I liked the 1981 TV-series better.
- 28 Days later... (2002), focuses on the horror aspect.
- Quintet (1979), Paul Newman in a new Ice Age
- Le temps du loup (2003), Isabelle Huppert in depressing tale of human response to an apocalyptic event (the nature of which remains unknown).
- Warlords of the 21st Century (1982), New Zealand action movie a.k.a. Battle truck.
- The Ultimate Warrior (1975), Yul Brynner is the only hope after a nuclear holocaust.
Interesting list, Paaskynen. The earliest item, however, dates to 1962. It certainly seems like a modern genre, born of Cold War paranoia and fears of scientific or demographic events beyond our control. A quick search on IMDb appears to confirm that suspicion. I wonder when the first post-apocalyptic movie was made.
As far as I can figure, the first is Things to Come (1936), a British film based on an H.G. Wells novel. The apocalypse there is a prolonged conventional war, not some nuclear holocaust or epidemic or alien invasion (the Wells-inspired War of the Worlds was first filmed in 1953). Decades of war reduces the planet to levels of near-barbarism, but a select group of scientists, using airpower, rescues humanity from its depravity through the imposition of a one-world government.
There were other movies that posited a future society, such as Fritz Lang's Metropolis (1927), but there was little or no explanation as to how the world got to be that way. Metropolis, in other words, isn't post-apocalyptic so much as it's post-industrial. Can anyone think of an earlier example of a post-apocalyptic movie?
Well, film itself is not that old for a start (Imagine how apocalyptic Medieval films could have been ). I think that in the beginning of the 20th century the progress idea of Positivism had made enlightened men look to the future with confidence and apart from that film was an means of mass distraction during hard times (During the depression the public wanted hope and happy endings and not gloomy fantasies about disaster).
The idea of a worldwide catastrophe was inconceivable, because the world was known to be very big (The Black Death could be called apocalyptic in Medieval times because it would affect the entire known world of the sufferers). The possibility of wordlwide catastrophe only became current with the building of nuclear arsenals, the report of the Club of Rome and subsequent scientific research into planet killing asteroids and environmental collapse.
On the other hand, the driving factor behind post-apocalyptic fiction is a modern development too. It is the ultimate escapism: the possibility to start anew free from the constraints of our highly structured and regulated modern day societies. It is a way for men to be men again (Note the popularity of (post)-apocalyptic fiction among survivalists. They are hoping for disaster so they can prove themselves.)
I can't think of any really old post-apocalyptic film, but then again I am not very familiar with really old cinema.
You raise some good points. I agree that the advent of the atomic age made a worldwide apocalypse more immediate, but that doesn't entirely explain the lack of post-apocalyptic movies prior to 1945. After all, there was post-apocalyptic literature prior to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, dating way back to the grand daddy of all post-apocalyptic visions, the bible's book of Revelations, and even before that to the tales of worldwide floods found in Babylonian and Hebrew myth.
I wonder if the dearth of post-apocalyptic movies prior to the 1950s has more to do with cinematic limitations and popular tastes than with any sort of unfamiliarity with the genre. Science fiction films weren't very popular prior to the 1950s either, even though some of the first movies ever made were sci fi films:
Having lived through World War I, however, audiences of the interwar period may not have been interested in something as depressing as another worldwide catastrophe. Also, filmmakers faced limits in terms of the kinds of special effects they could use (although some of the early sci fi films, such as Lang's Frau im Mond (1929), remain quite impressive). H.G. Wells wrote The War of the Worlds in 1898, but a film version wasn't made until 1953, at which point motion picture special effects had finally caught up with Wells's imagination. So it may be that post-apocalyptic films caught on after 1950 because they finally found an audience and were finally able to portray a post-apocalyptic landscape convincingly.
Finding the audience is an excellent point. Especially, in the small European markets, there was little room for experimentation (until the advent of generous art subsidies in the 1970s). In Finland and the Netherlands the three main genres produced are:
- Comedies (mainly of the farcical kind, this trend goes all the way back to Medieval times)
- Relationship dramas (varying from Finnish Blut und Boden drama to the alienation of modern Finnish urban dwellers (sex and loneliness). In the Netherlands there is less link to nature and more burden of the past (sex and violence).
- WWII drama (in Finland it describes Finnish heroism between 1939 and 1944 and in the Netherlands it deals mostly with resistance and treason (and the grey zone in between) from 1940 to 1945).
- The fourth popular genre would be cinema for children.
There are of course artsy films, but they invariably fail to attract large audiences. I do not know of any Dutch science fiction film. Finnish cinema has a few independent titles (among which the very funny scifi spoof Star Wreck: In the Pirkinning (2005). There is only one post-apocalyptic film, but it is a very odd one called Lipton Cockton in the Shadow of Sodomia (1995). I haven't seen it, it sounded too weird for my taste, but now that I have written about it, I might see it after all, if I can find it at the local video shop that is.
Science fiction and fantasy films weren't very popular before the 1950s, even though science fiction and fantasy literature was quite popular. I think that has a lot to do with the perception that science fiction and fantasy was strictly for kids -- comic book stuff for the young'ns. Hollywood's brief forays into science fiction consisted almost exclusively of serials based on newspaper comic strips designed to appeal to younger audiences, like Flash Gordon and Buck Rodgers. When those kids got older, however, they started making science fiction films, in much the same way that kids who grew up playing video games in the 1980s started making films based on video games in the 1990s and 2000s.
Wed 17 Jun, 2009 08:35 am
I find post-apocalyptic stories to usually suffer from a lack of imagination. Far too much of the "society" which is described is left unexplained, and to me, the "how to" aspect is crucially important. I did really enjoy The Postman by David Brin. The only thing i found implausible was the routine about the "enhanced" soldiers--but you'll have that kind of thing in science fiction. It was made into an appallingly bad movie. I enjoyed A Boy and His Dog, and found it thoroughly implausible, but entertaining. I found Escape from New York very entertaining, too, and just as implausible. Kurt Russell deserves credit for carving an acting niche out for himself after the disaster of his adolescence and young adult years. I suspect that life is not very charming for child actors as they age. THX 1138 was not a bad film, but belongs in the category of movies that provide more questions than answers.
Wed 17 Jun, 2009 08:36 am
Oh, and Logan's Run really sucked--i thought of it as a failed attempt to tart up THX 1138 to give it box office appeal.
Wed 17 Jun, 2009 08:38 am
According to Wikipedia, Logan's Run was based on an existing novel. Oh well--i think both it and THX 1138 are inspired by Brave New World--the granddaddy of dystopia stories.
Wed 17 Jun, 2009 10:55 am
For the ultimate in apocalypses, the earth's destruction for a new hyperspace bypass, we shouldn't forget "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."