Melancholia is a two-part film that follows a family’s experiences and reactions when a rogue planet passes by and ultimately hits earth, completely obliterating it. There are a few apocalyptic themes in the movie, which range from fairly obvious to more subtle. The most obvious theme is the destruction of the world. A rogue planet crashing into earth is very different from what happens in Revelation, but its thematic implications find parallels in the biblical book. It marks the end of the world as the characters know it. Their physical existence ends, and their earthly comforts, which are rather luxurious, become nothing, similarly to the earthly possessions of those experiencing the events of Revelation in the bible. John stresses that physical things will not help fend off the Last Judgement, as the poor/those who suffered on earth will be rewarded in heaven, and the rich/those who lived comfortable lives, not believing in God, will be doomed to hell. However, the connections to Revelation can’t be carried too far with Melancholia. Lars von Trier didn’t really make the movie with Christian apocalypticism in mind; he based it off his experience and struggle with depression.
Quimby’s introduction discussing, among various topics, the three types of apocalypse can be used to interpret Melancholia through an apocalyptic lens. In the opening paragraphs, Quimby addresses the theological and non-theological approaches to apocalyptic discourse. The film falls into the non-theological category, as it looks at an end to the world that is based on an astronomical event, instead of on one originating in heaven and the characters struggle with their own personal emotions in the face of impending doom. However, the fears associated with theological apocalypse are very similar to those identified in non-theological apocalypse and Quimby stresses that they cannot fully be separated. Non-theological apocalypse often derives from theological discourse, adopting its language and imagery to explain widespread disasters or suffering.
One aspect of the movie I found especially interesting was the different responses of each character to the inevitable destruction of earth and, subsequently, to their impending deaths. They demonstrated what I think to be the basic reactions of humans when faced with dying. One took control of his own end, committing suicide instead of waiting for disaster to kill him. One displayed outright fear and desperation to stop death, while another accepted the end with a calm demeanor, as if acknowledging nothing could prevent the inevitable. I would imagine if the events of Revelation were to actually occur, humanity would display similar reactions based on their beliefs and trust/distrust of the higher powers.
“Children of Men” explores a wide variety of issues that deal directly and indirectly with notion of apocalypse. At times, this film directly relates to elements found specifically in the book of Revelation and other points, generally referring to the New Testament. At times the Christ figure is blurred between Theo, the main protagonist and Key, the first pregnant woman the world has seen in over 20 years. While Theo starts the film as an uninterested bystander in a world now plunged into violent war, he ends as the central figure that helped usher in the dawn of new world. In a world ravaged in fear, the government in England stands as a picture of how Revelation portrays mighty Rome and her abundant power. Illegal immigrants are ushered into camps and systematically killed. Even the so-called revolutionists are trapped in political power-struggles, killing off their own leader to try and take down the mighty empire that enslaves their daily life. However, when Theo and Key meet in the barn and the revelation of her pregnancy is made known to him and the audience, the plot of the film begins to take shape. Will this child, supposed to be a boy throughout the film, be the messiah that the world need in order to bring peace? Taking a different spin than the gospel’s write it out, it’s as if the film is saying to the audience, “For I bring to you good news of great joy that will be for people. For unto us today, in the country of England, a child is born.” Key stands as a picture of Mary, both in the gospels and in the book of Revelation. People are trying to either kill her or control her. She is seen in the movie as constantly fleeing. The moment when the army is fighting it out with the revolutionists in the all but destroyed building the sweet cries of the little baby hush everyone there. As Key and Theo walk through the halls, people are floored by the infant and even the military orders their men to cease fire. They gaze upon the child, holding their arms out as if they have seen the Christ. Immediately after the baby is out of harms-way, the war continues as if nothing had changed when in reality the New Earth was about to be revealed. Throughout this film, it shows what the ending of the world probably will look like. Not in the sense of infertility driving the world into disarray, but how the world will destroy itself. Nation will war against nation, no one will be safe and the government will have total control over its people, even though their own walls will be breaking down around them. “Children of Men”, perhaps not the best acted or written film of all time still does justice to the notions and ideas of apocalypse and especially of how fear of the end of days drives apocalyptic discourse. It shows all the different types of people one would most likely find if the world really was plunging into its final days. The characters include the powerful, the political, the military, the uninterested, the righteous, the repentant, the evil-doers destined for their own demise, the martyrs, and the ambivalent. The likelihood of humanity ending at some point is high. Whether it is through the destruction of our own planet, millions of years passing before an eventual astronomical event occurs, or even the possibility of divine intervention, no one can deny that there is a life-span to the human race and the planet which we occupy. This nagging internal knowledge is what drives the entertainment world to creating movies such as “Children of Men” and subsequently perpetuates humanities interest and development of apocalyptic thought.