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Apocalypse-Cinema2012 and Other Ends of the World$
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Peter Szendy

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264803

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264803.001.0001

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Melancholia, or The After-All

Melancholia, or The After-All

(p.1) Chapter 1 Melancholia, or The After-All

Peter Szendy

Fordham University Press

This chapter argues that Lars von Trier's Melancholia (2011) is and may perhaps forever be the only rigorously apocalyptic film in the history of cinema. Before Melancholia there were already movies in which the last still perfectly coincided with the annihilation of everything. One example is Ted Post's Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970): As he lay dying, Taylor (Charlton Heston) murmurs with his last breath that the day of the last judgment has arrived (“it's Doomsday”) before he collapses and sets off the atomic explosion that destroys the whole Earth. Yet there is a narrating voice that actually continues after or over the final image, that continues to recount, that becomes the huckster for a potential sequel that could still be shot someday. This is not the case with Melancholia. Until the final credits begin to roll, there is at least the radical suspension of an absolute silence that, for a few moments, allows us to glimpse the possibility of an archi-fade to black, of a total erasure after the ultimate image. The end of the film as end of the world would then also be the end of cinema itself. A cinema, finally, in the end.

Keywords:   apocalypse-cinema, apocalyptic film, apocalyptic genre, Melancholia, Lars von Trier, Ted Post, Charlton Heston

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