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Apocalypse Now: Ten Best Depictions of the End


Escape the perils of reality for big screen versions of the worst.


It's been said that cinema turns a mirror on the present time. At the worst, it's a slightly lagging indicator. And this fall, several movies will be released that imagine a dystopian near-future, one that doesn't seem altogether cuckoo given the angst-ridden time we live in today: foreign wars, economic upheaval, climate change, pandemics.

What these movies have in common, unlike past doomsday flicks (think those asteroid flicks of the '90s) is that they look at the world after doomsday -- the aftermath. And it isn't just cinema either -- books and television, like the Discovery Channel, have entered the post-apocalyptic fray.

The shining example of the bunch is the film adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. As in the novel, what caused the apocalypse and blackened the landscape is not described. Still, the filmmakers used footage of Hurricane Katrina, the Twin Towers, Mount St. Helens and volcanic devastation in the Philippines.

Another movie, 2012, which comes out in November, has the earth rip apart, fulfilling an ancient prophesy. The director, Roland Emmerich, has almost destroyed the world in past movies like Independence Day, a Godzilla remake, and The Day After Tomorrow. Emmerich is a dystopian connoisseur. "I'm really very pessimistic these days," he told The Wall Street Journal.

Although this Hollywood wave of post-apocalyptic fare is interesting in its plenitude, the topic is nothing new on the big screen. Here are 10 films that set the course for this genre.

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Apocalypse Now: Ten Best Depictions of the End Apocalypse Now: Where to Escape Apocalypse Now: A Checklist for the Fearful
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