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Contemporary Japanese And American Cinematic Visions Of The Apocalypse And Post Apocalypse

2749 words - 11 pages

Nick Wall14 January, 2014Contemporary American and Japanese Cinematic visions of the Apocalypse and PostApocalypseThe envisioning of the end of the world or the destruction of society has been a common theme addressed across the world throughout history by writers, artists, and philosophers alike. In more modern times however, cinema has emerged as the primary vehicle of envisioning apocalyptic thought. The cinematic depiction of the apocalypse, an event that would bring about the end of the world or a radical negative change in society, has been largely dominated by two separate cultures, American and Japanese.Although the common usage of the word "apocalypse" is a more encompassing term for all the movies dealing with the apocalypse, for the purposes of this paper, the term necessitates that the setting of the movie must take place and center around this event. This leaves a clear distinction between apocalypse and post apocalypse, which will be examined later. The post apocalypse is a term describing the aftermath of an apocalyptic event, and usually centers around the dystopian society caused by the event. While both the contemporary American and Japanese cinematic visions of the apocalypse and post apocalypse both rely on visually stimulating imagery, they differ in their depiction of the apocalypse in their victim versus transgressor mindset, while their visualizations of the post apocalypse are similar both in terms of their cause and their resultant dystopian societies.The apprehension of the apocalypse is prevalent all throughout American society. "Apocalypse awareness exists in Europe but is particularly strong in the United States, where the constant resurgence of doomsday cults, from the 19th century Shakers to the followers of David Roresh in Waco, gives strong support to John W. Nelson's assertion that 'apocalyptic is as American as the hot dog'" (Nelson 179). The Western interpretation of the apocalypse is rooted in its traditional Christian ideologies. Europe and America "share a common tradition of the biblical Book of Revelation, the themes and imagery of which have become the fundamental version of the apocalyptic narrative: a final battle between the forces of the righteous and the forces of Satan the wholesale destruction of the world with the evil side being cast into hell"(Napier 250). Though modern interpretations of the Apocalypse need no longer focus on religion, many aspects of Apocalypse wrote about in Revelation survive today, mainly the idea of a cataclysmic event along with the vivid imagery that accompanies it.In American cinema, this idea of a cataclysmic event embodies itself in the threat of the extinction of humanity from a massive outside power. One common vision of an apocalyptic or doomsday instigator are asteroids from outer space aimed at earth which hold the potential to wipe out humanity. Both Armageddon (1998) and Deep Impact (1988) focus on humanity and its relationship with itself while uniting to...

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