Apocalypse movies fascinate me.
Zombies, pathogens, aliens, asteroids bound for planet earth – whatever scenario, they all seem to dance to the same tone.
I especially enjoy the ones which have a definite end, a point of no return.
“These Final Hours” is an Australian end of the world film, which recently caught me off guard with it’s excellent acting and storytelling. It shows the final 12 hours of life on earth as the protagonist races through the chaotic suburbs of Perth, dodging machete wielding lunatics and drug addled party goers. He’s a bit thick, and has certainly made some poor life choices up until this point, however he has the opportunity to redeem himself in these final hours by rescuing a young girl in search of her father.
In one respect, a film like this can make everything seem so futile, as if life was a pointless washing machine of moments and events, all of which are careening towards one big inevitable end.
So why even bother?
On the other hand, films like these bring into sharp focus a topic which philosophers have deemed valuable for centuries: an awareness of our own mortality. And therefore a greater appreciation for the gift of existence.
I guess this is why I like these sort of stories, because they raise to your eyes the mirror of your own mortality, forcing you to gaze into the inescapable fact, that, despite our best attempts, we can no longer ignore death waiting just beyond the horizon. If you are conscious of your imminent end, you tend to consider the moments you have already lived, which reveals something equally important: the moral code you have unwittingly lived by.
This, I feel, is a very human quality, what animal has the luxury of living by a moral code, other than it’s instincts and will to reproduce?
But where did we get ours from?
We have the unique ability to choose exactly what we believe and what is right and wrong.
Unfortunately, we generally don’t consciously choose these beliefs.
Often we are unconsciously scavenging the scraps society has abandoned at our feet, picking them up with little regard and placing them next to our heart.
Many of the apocalyptic movies examine the peeling of the layers that make us human, often revealing a malnourished soul clinging desperately to the chewed up left overs of our societies assumptions, foolishly adopted as our own.
The ability to set our own standards and choose what we are willing to do to keep the lights on in this existence of ours, is one of the exquisite aspects of life, once you begin to use it.
And that’s the amazing thing about the world we live in, we have access to every truly great mind that has ever lived, every thought and belief is floating out there in the great sea of information, waiting to be discovered.
All you need to do is start looking for it.
The way I see it, you can react to the news of your impending end in one of two ways:
Freak out, get depressed, bitch and moan about the cruelty of it all, and curl up into a ball on your living room floor cradling a bottle of Jack Daniels.
You can wake up and realise that with the acceptance that none of this is permanent, and that you have the power to choose how and what you live by, intense and overwhelming gratitude tends to flood even the most mundane of moments.
How can you not wake with a smile when it may well be the last day that you get to wake at all?
This is the beauty of an apocalypse film, it is a small reminder of that big unspoken elephant in the room – our own end.
A reminder that each strand of existence is poetry in motion, never to be lived again.