08/30/2010 03:13 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

New Visions of the Apocalypse (VIDEO)

By Kiša Lala

Horizon Features, An image from
"Acqua Alta in Venice, An image from "Beautiful Islands," Horizon Features"

A recent surge in apocalyptic films indicates the mood of the zeitgeist. With 2012 fast approaching, our oceans at peril and the gloom of global warming, the average recession-hit consumer cannot see past their shrinking funds to worry about other mammals going extinct.

The hottest Pakistani summers on record followed by uncharacteristic floods seems to all underscore the creeping panic, while for those on the other side of the debate, the future's so bright, they're just happy to wear shades.

Lucy Walker's film Countdown to Zero, on the likely threat of a nuclear holocaust, is the latest venture by Lawrence Bender of An Inconvenient Truth, in which Walker asserts that, "steps needed to be taken to blow up New York City not only could happen but had already happened."

A scene from Lucy Walker's Countdown to Zero
"Target New York City: A scene from Lucy Walker's Countdown to Zero. Photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures."

Another documentary Beautiful Islands, by Japanese director Kana Tomoko, examines three sinking islands with widely different cultures, Tuvalu in the South Pacific, Shishmaref in Alaska and Venice, Italy. In her attempt to show the plight of the indigenous people of Tuvalu, the first nation reportedly scheduled to be under water by 2050, her camera becomes infatuated by the sun, sea and the island's blissful inhabitants - painting such an idyllic picture that one almost feels a pang of schadenfreude at their imminent demise.

An image from
"An image from "Beautiful Islands" Horizon Features"

On the other side of the planet on a tiny Alaskan island, locals have had to relocate, because of thinning ice, which is a danger to indigenous huntsmen who slaughter seals with their prized, polished shotguns, and who we sympathize with as much as their gun-toting deer-hunting brethren on the mainland who must cope with supermarket venison off-season. As for the third setting, the film shows Venetians during the Acqua Alta - the annual deluge is a dramatic and expensive nuisance.

Despite the director's overindulgence of her subjects, the film underscores an urgent call to action, and is one amongst many portending universal peril. Recent box office successes indicate the general public's fascination with impending doom and post-apocalyptic themes: The 11th Hour, Children of Men, 2012, 28 Days Later, with apocalyspe movie sites like these sustaining the hysteria.

Here the British artist, Richard Hardy creates a dystopian vision of London, where nature reclaims the urban landscape:

Text: By Kisa Lala