Images of the end : representations of the apocalyptic in contemporary film
This thesis sets out to investigate the relationship between the ‘classical apocalypse’ and the contemporary apocalypse as portrayed by the films A Clockwork Orange (1971), Apocalypse Now (1979) and Crash (1995). The ‘classical apocalypse’ is a literary genre which supplies a rich and vivid imagery where the image takes precedence over the narrative. At the centre of the ‘classical apocalypse’ is the image, and this thesis explores it the imagery of apocalypse can be translated from its traditional literary form to the visual form of film. The apocalypse is a revealing of that which has been concealed and which lies in the future of humankind at the end of time. In the postmodern era with the absence of meaning, apocalypse and God, the apocalypse has become a nihilistic repetition and the revealing has become feared since it might be a revealing of nothing. These contemporary depictions of the end, I would argue, help the apocalypse to come into its own in a postmodern setting, and the medium of film offers a possibility to further emphasise the visuality and potent imagery of the end, expressing the concerns of the apocalypse fully. As such they provide a ‘sense of an ending’ and an apocalyptic sentiment which is an unnerving and evasive as the ‘classical apocalypse’. These films revisit as well as revamp and rehearse the imagery of the Biblical apocalypse, becoming a-theological statements if not on the Bible, on the state of society and the apocalypse.