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10 Best End of the World Movies of All Time

August 8, 2018
13 min read

The concept of apocalypse is a dreaded and highly debatable one. Over the years there have been several conspirators who have theorized the possibility of the end of the world and its cause. These random groups have their loyal followers who too share the belief of the apocalypse. Science fiction writers over the years have penned down their nightmarish imaginations and created moments of apocalypse and post-apocalyptic worlds. The general folks, however, refuse to engage in a discussion on this morbid topic as the sweet present is much too fulfilling. They shudder at the very notion of the world’s demise. The filmmakers however haven’t been too silent for this topic is as good as any to fry their creative minds on.

Today, we will be looking at 10 best movies about the end of the world. Films which are based on a post-apocalyptic world like ‘Wall E’ or ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ have been excluded. This list features some hidden gems from countries like Australia and Canada. So if you have missed out on a couple of these, make sure you do, before you know, ‘The Apocalypse.’ With that said, here is the list of end of the world movies ever. You can some of the best end of the world movies on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

10. When Worlds Collide (1951)

The subject of our dear old earth colliding with an alien body has been debated and talked about by the apocalypse theorists since a very long time. Two of them, Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer, had co-authored a book ‘When Worlds Collide’ in 1933 which dwelt on this morbid fantasy. It provided the fodder for the 1951 sci-fi flick by Rudolph Mate. The film, produced by Paramount Pictures, is one of the very first of its kind.

Expertly disguising itself as a Biblical metaphor, ‘When Worlds Collide’ brings the raw human nature when put on the brink of an apocalypse. When a space ‘ark’ was sanctioned to be built to fly out mankind and animals to the seemingly habitable planet of Zyra post Earth’s collision with the rogue Sun Bellus, scientist Dr. Cole Hendron has the toughest job at hand when he has to select the ‘lucky passengers’ who would go on board the ship. It is a test of humanity and of Dr. Hendron’s mettle as he tries to save as many lives as possible. He is confronted with the inhumanity behind leaving so many people stranded on the unstable Earth or doing nothing for the annihilation. His resolve forces him to choose the lesser of the two evils but remains behind to salvage his conscience and to conserve fuel for those on board. It is amazing how this concept was brought about at such an early stage of cinema. It is one fascinating movie and merits a watch to say the least.

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9. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Who knew that the last days on Earth would concoct such a heart-warming story of love and union? When Dodge Petersen finds out about his wife’s affair, circumstances lead him to embark on a symbiotic journey with his neighbor Penny. The quest leads them to the solutions of certain unanswered questions in their respective lives, and while the rest of the world is busy hallucinating their last days, the two individuals connect and make love in the back of their car. They realize their love towards each other at the end and reunite in a ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S’ like finale. The couple cuddle in bed as the world around them comes to an end.

The story until the very last moment might have been as predictable as any rom-com, but the anti-climax about an apocalypse proved to be the shining light. Lorene Scafaria’s ‘Seeking a friend for the end of the world’ was endearing and sweet like a proper love story. The innocence of realization and love between an odd couple with apocalypse looming right behind made the audience fall in love with the story. Keira Knightley and Steve Carell put in a fun packed romantic performance which made this film a sleeper favorite amongst all the viewers.

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8. Miracle Mile (1988)

For a long time the modern world has been threatened with the possibility of a full blown nuclear war and the annihilation of the human race. Only our worst nightmares can comprehend what the disaster would be. Steve De Jarnatt in his most remarkable work, ‘Miracle Mile’ painted a picture of the horrors mankind would have to endure. When Harry is unwittingly alerted by a stranger about an impending nuclear war, the whole city is thrown into chaos as the news spread. Not knowing whether it is a false alarm, the city starts to make preparations for immediate evacuation.

In the chaos where death roams free, Harry tries to find Julie and when their moment comes to be rescued, their helicopter crashes into the La Brea Tar Pits, which ironically was the very place where they met and fell in love. Jarnatt’s film shows emphatically the shaken society and how quickly mankind can shred the last thread of humanity in a flash when confronted with death. The indirect snide to the political powers at play is done excellently and it is subtly implied who the responsible party is. ‘Miracle Mile’ is one of the films which the general audience won’t see but is actually a piece of genius.

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7. These Final Hours (2013)

When 12 hours is given to the people of Western Australia to bid goodbye to this world, the people get into a frenzy trying to feel the life as much as possible in this short span of time. The protagonist James, on his way to a highly rave party, gets derailed when he attempts to save a girl from being raped. His new mission changes to reuniting Rose with her estranged family hours before apocalypse.

The film’s climax shows James getting together with his love Zoe as the firestorm breaks into the coast. Australian filmmaker Zak Hilditch created a work of genius with this ingenious storyline. He captured the mixed emotions of the people who were aware of their impending death. People have shed all of their social inhibitions and engage in wild acts of pleasure in their final moments. James’ act becomes the sole representative of humanity as the cloud of death approaches closer. The Land Down Under has produced a marvel asking one very vital question – What would you do in ‘These Final Hours’?

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6. This is the End (2013)

What would happen if a season of ‘Big Boss’ was set on the theme of an impending apocalypse? Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg provided a hilarious answer by putting together a plethora of celebrities in one house as the world around them is destroyed by hellish demons. Goofy and hilarious, ‘This is the end’ became an audience favorite as they could see their favorite stars in a frenzy trying to escape for their lives. Various references to the actors’ previous works made it seem all the way more realistic. The script might have been a bit loose, but hilarious performances from James Franco, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel, Johan Hill and others made the film a laugh riot. Scarcely could have one thought that such a comedy could have been made on the lines of an apocalypse. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg did the impossible and made this fan favorite movie which will be remembered surely in the years to come.

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5. On the Beach (1959)

In 1959, the horrible memories of the Second World War were fresh in the minds of people. The growing tensions between USA and USSR sowed the seeds of a probable third world war and the residents of Earth were wrought with fear. Stanley Kramer adapted Nevil Shute’s novel of the same name into one of the most popular films on nuclear warfare.

‘On the Beach’ shows an almost annihilated Esarth post a savage World War III where the entire Northern Hemisphere has been obliterated with the deadly radiation. With a small pocket of mankind existing in the far reaches of the southern hemisphere in Australia, the end of the world seems inevitable. The Australian Government provides the option of suicide pills to end things quickly and Commander Dwight Lionel Towers leads the submarine Sawfish to San Diego form where suspicious signals were coming. Hopes that had risen were quickly dashed to smithereens as it was found that only a swinging Coca Cola can was the source.

The people in Australia prepare for the end and tries to find pleasure in their final days. Commander Dwight along with several others decides to board Sawfish and head home to their motherland to die. The emotional end brings to light the futility of war and the utter love a person has for his/her country. But all this love is eventually laid to waste post the world war caused by the clashing egos of a few selfish parties. ‘On the Beach’ is in line with Stanley Kramer’s series of social messages through films and is a stern reminder to keep mankind in check.

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4. Interstellar (2014)

No list seems to be complete without at least one inclusion of a Christopher Nolan film. The modern master’s works are versatile enough to cover almost every topic on Earth, so it’s hardly unsurprising that the near-apocalyptic earth would attract his attention. ‘Interstellar’ showed a dystopian future where the crops on Earth have been destroyed by blight and humanity is on the verge of extinction. A team of astronauts led by Joseph Cooper have embarked on a mission spearheaded by NASA to find a habitable planet in this universe.

A torrid journey through black holes and falling prey to the vagaries of the space-time continuum, Nolan’s film draws a mathematical correlation between the universal void and depleting humanity. He paints a picture of the desire for survival with the spectacular visions of outer space in the background. The relationship between a father and daughter is explored amidst the shaking bookcase and dust patterns. The audience can get lost in the mind-numbing visuals but only the true seeker can decipher the meaning of the story.

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3. Melancholia (2011)

Lars von Trier is a director over whom critics’ opinion are divided. His films are unique and tells a story which other auteurs don’t. His take on the human feeling of depression has achieved a cult status over the years. ‘Melancholia’ is the second film in his ‘Depression’ trilogy and it narrates the story of a young girl Justine and her sister Claire, both of whom are the victims of the gluttonous depression.

The film narrates the sisters’ respective stories starting from the night of Justine’s marriage with Michael. On the context of the imminent destruction of Earth due to a collision with the rogue planet Melancholia, the two sisters Justine and Claire find their respective lives in shambles. Lars von Trier captures their mental wreckage spectacularly and creates a template on the subject of depression. The frustration, irritation and plain anger is brought about in a very raw manner. The entire film is a metaphor for melancholia consuming the happiness in a human’s soul. One of the most underrated films ever, it also sports Kirsten Dunst in a surprisingly wonderful performance.

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2. Last Night (1998)

The ‘Last Night’ before apocalypse is a time filled with uncertainty and pathos. When the world is given a deadline, it is certain that a chaos will break out. The last night saw an ebb in the violence, with people opting to spend the last moments with their families or engaging themselves in acts of pleasure which the laws of society had previously prevented them from engaging in. Patrick, a widower, after spending a mock Christmas with his family, finds a depressed Sandra on the streets who is looking for her husband Duncan. When they discover that Duncan has been killed by a rioter, Sandra urges Patrick to evoke the suicide pact previously shared with her husband.

In the final moments however, passion overcomes depression, and they kiss as the world comes to an end. Don McKellar’s stellar direction made this film about the ebbing hope in humanity during the final hours before the apocalypse. The sentiments were explored judiciously and the film poised on a poignant state for the maximum part. Critics have argued that the panic wasn’t shown ‘enough’, but in the very last moments, tranquility would triumph over violence certainly and McKellar was stellar in his choice of emotional portrayal.

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1. Dr. Strangelove (1964)

Trust Stanley Kubrick to come up with a satirical black comedy on the nightmarish topic of a nuclear apocalypse during the cold war. He expertly ridicules the Cold War by bringing into play the eccentricity of the American Officials and the Russian retaliation. He points out that how fragile the fate of the world was when a certain lunatic could easily trigger a series of events which would bombard together and cause the nuclear annihilation to occur.

‘Dr. Strangelove’ is the wily old man to whom people start paying attention at a very late stage but who immediately suggests a solution. He is an ex-Nazi and Kubrick’s characterization helped in eliminating the anti-Nazi stand prevalent in the wake of the Second World War.  Kubrick had to take a lot of heat after this movie’s release with both USA and the USSR jumping down to protect what hurt their sentiments. However, the enigma had made his point crystal clear and his anti-war stand couldn’t have been more prominent.

Peter Sellers in a triple role proved his worth and made the eccentric Dr. Strangelove with iconic black sunglasses one of the most loved on screen characters till date. ‘Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb’ by The Stanley Kubrick is one of the best films ever made and completes our countdown with panache.

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