Narrative • The post-apocalyptic genre itself is a sub genre of science fiction and horror; set in a dystopian world where everything is unpleasant or destroyed, this is opposite of Utopia where everything is perfect. • The narrative is very character-driven, showing the characters battle to survive on a devastated Earth. • Most post-apocalyptic films are associated with real life events such as technology, medical advances, environmental change, and economic crashes that may have caused an effect leading towards a catastrophic conclusion. • ‘Post-apocalyptic film concerns the theme of humanity's possible demise -- when the modern world lies broken and fragmented, and its remaining vestiges struggle for their very survival. In post-apocalyptic film, mankind itself hangs in the balance -- a reality which lends the post-apocalyptic action its urgency’ (Dr Eric Dodson’s, Post-Apocalyptic Film & The Postmodern Apocalypse).
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs • According to Abraham Maslow ‘s ‘Hierarchy of needs’ human beings must have five basic essential needs in order to survive. He formed a pyramid demonstrating these needs which he called the 'hierarchy of needs'. • Below are the five basic essential needs listed in order from the bottom of the hierarchy to the top. (See picture on the right for a visual display of these needs).1. Physiological needs - air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, sleep, etc.2. Safety needs - protection from elements, security, order, law, limits, stability, etc.3. Love and belonging needs - work group, family, affection, relationships, etc.4.Esteem needs - self-esteem, achievement, mastery, independence, status, dominance, prestige. • 5. Self-Actualization needs - realizing personal potential, self-fulfilment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences. • During a post-apocalyptic situation it would be quite difficult to have the basic necessities of for example food, water, clothing and shelter and the consequence of not having this would result in people ceasing to function. • The next level up is Safety Needs and this need would be very difficult to fulfil in that society, as it is to do with establishing stability and consistency in a chaotic environment. Hierarchy of needs
Survival of the fittest • The phrase “Survival of the fittest" was first used by British philosopher Herbert Spencer to describe Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection of living species. According to Darwin, In order for a species to survive where there is change, it has to be able to adapt to that change. In a post-apocalyptic situation this theory would come to life. This is whereby a person of good character who would normally hold quite strong ethical values and beliefs could be challenged in a post-apocalyptic world. This is as a person may find themselves in such an unfamiliar and difficult situation that they go totally out of character and become quite ruthless and cutthroat. It becomes more about getting ahead and being more physically and mental superior to everyone else. This results in the weak and/or meek perishing dying in favour of the stronger people. Charles Darwin Herbert Spencer
Timeline • Link: Http://www.timetoast.com/timelines/post-apocalyptic-genre
Characters • The protagonists start out as ordinary people, oppressed by the world they live in. They are isolated or alone. This isolation could be physical or emotional and may either be self-imposed or a result of circumstances beyond her control. Then they find an inner strength they didn’t know they had and they use it to change the world like for example in ‘Mad Max’ (1979) starring Mel Gibson, Max is a former cop who turns vigilante after a biker gang kills his wife and child. He is a very emotional character whose range soared from being happy with his friends and family, right down to fear and depression when he began to realize he seemed to be becoming no better than the gangs on the roads. In the film he does meet a group of survivors struggling in the new savage world. He ends up helping them & they remind him of the past modern world and its humanity, But he does not belong in either world and ends up striking out alone. • It also features protagonist characters that have a fatal flaws for example in ‘The Road’ (2009) The father has to make many difficult decisions in the course of every day as he and his son battle for survival; it is the son's rebellion against the father's paranoid, overprotective parenting that is the turning point in the film which leads the son to his salvation. The father also becomes ill with a bad fever, which frightens the son greatly. The father illness is his fatal flaw and it stops him from finding his salvation. • The antagonist characters tend to be characters that have been affected by the apocalypse. For example in 28 days later (2002) starring Cillian Murphy, everyone is affected by the accidental release of of a highly contagious "rage" virus, where they become cannibals and eat the flesh of other humans.
Themes • Conventions such as themes of desolation are shown to the audience, enabling them to feel the loneliness and helplessness right from the beginning. The audience also expect to see the extent to which the world has changed, how this change has affected characters and a society as a whole. One way that the filmmakers do this is by showing the pre existing settings and landmarks in which the audience can relate to, like for example in I am Legend (2007) starring Will Smith, New York is full of monsters at night, yet empty in the day, the streets are covered in grass, buildings are destroyed, and the city is depopulated, this creates a dark spookily beautiful dystopia. • Another common theme is the journey, the characters go through a journey between various settings, where the characters learn new ways of how to survive in a dystopian world. A good example of a film that has this common theme is ‘The Road’ where the narrative is set in the future and depicts the journey of a father and his son walking alone through ravaged landscape of Post-Apocalyptic America in hope to find their salvation. • The end of the world is a theme in a lot of modern post-apocalyptic films. ‘2012’ (2009) is an example of film that whole plot is based around this theme. Follows the prophecy stated by the ancient Mayan calendar, which says that the world will come to an end on December 21, 2012. The film shows a massive global cataclysm which turns the world into chaos with. When a global cataclysm thrusts the world into chaos, with loads of natural disasters occurring.
Setting • It's the imagery that haunts the audience e.g. barren landscapes, demolished buildings, burned farmlands, gloomy skies, scenes of death and destruction everywhere, like for example in ‘The Road’ the setting of post apocalyptic America is shown heavy visual representations of the bleak ravaged landscape. The weather conditions are also hazardous; it is as if the world in that film has become diseased. • Another film with heavy use of visual imagery is the ‘Book of Eli’ (2010) starring Denzel Washington, is set 30 years after the extinction level event, the younger characters have no concept of what a “civilized” world was like. We are also introduced to a lone traveller who wanders around North America’s desolate and violent wasteland.
Technical aspects in I am Legend • The opening of I Am Legend uses sound, camera angles and Misé en scene very effectively. For example, we see many establishing shots of empty, desolate streets and locations in New York City, there are plants and weeds that are overgrown it suggests that this city has been stranded for a few years also. • There are also long shots to show the emptiness of this city. During the opening there is a bird eye view of the city which tracks Robert Neville's (Will Smith) car driving around the streets of New York, this shot portrays his isolationism in the society that he lives in, It also enables the audience to feel his isolation.
Technical aspects Day After Tomorrow • The opening of The Day After Tomorrow (2004) uses various techniques in order to build up suspense. For example a high angle tracking shot is used in order to establish the scene, this shot shows an Antarctic ice sheet along with the ocean, this suggests to the audience what the basis of the movie is as well as the type of genre the movie is. It also educates the audience as today in society we are worried about climate change and the film focuses on what will happen if we do not take notice on this issue.
Technical aspects of 28 Days Later • 28 Days Later uses lighting and editing to create tension. The opening sequence uses low-key lighting in order to show the dark and dangerous aspects of this scene. Later on in the sequence, when the activists release the chimpanzees, the tension builds up. The camerawork is very shaky, and is edited into a very quick series of close-ups and extreme close-ups. This should project horror on the audience, as the audience is not meant to feel comfortable whilst watching a Post Apocalyptic horror film, the filmmaker wants to draw the audience straight into the action and this is effectively done by being creative with different shots and editing effects.