End of the World (a.k.a. La Fin du Monde) (1931) Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review



A rarity until now, this is essential for fans of post-apocalyptic cinema.


A prophecy leads to the end of all things.


For an early talkie film, this was way ahead of its time. French filmmaker Abel Gance attempted to encompass the end of days on a massively grand scale, and for the most part – as far as I’m concerned – he succeeded. What begins as an artistic melodrama featuring an allegorical Christ parallel suddenly shifts gears when a scientist in the story sees a comet in space through his telescope and deduces through some mathematical calculations that the comet is headed straight to Earth and will destroy the planet and everything living on it in a few months’ time. Scientists across the world convene and go over the calculations and realize that the original deductions were correct, and then the news gets out. Citizens and native peoples across the globe learn of Earth’s impending doom, and chaos and prayer spreads. As the final day draws closer, humanity has reverted to its basest instincts and pandemonium ensues. The final few minutes of the film feature a rather surprisingly graphic orgy sequence and violence. The comet narrowly misses the Earth, but its debris rains over the planet, causing untold destruction and damage. We see cities destroyed, oceans flooding landmasses, fire, and brimstone. The last shot offers some hope that human survivors are slowly regrouping and rebuilding again.

This is almost two movies in one. The first (and less interesting) angle is the one that focuses on relationships amongst several characters who fall in love. This section also features an odd Christ-like character who is hit on the head, left for lead, and convalesces in a hospital, where he prophesies the end of the world. Apparently the film was so radical for its time that it was taken from the director’s hands and recut. The version newly offered by Kino Lorber I watched was fairly coherent and it definitely should be seen to be believed.

Kino’s brand new Blu-ray release of this title has been restored in 2K, and comes with new interviews about the film, plus a trailer. A rarity until now, this is essential for fans of post-apocalyptic cinema.