The End of the World Essay

3567 Words 15 Pages
The End of the World

In writing definitively about American films of the nineteen fifties, Douglas Brode refers to the societal hysteria resulting from fear of both the communist threat and the possibility of nuclear war. Accompanying this general state of mind was the emergence of the science fiction film as a major genre. Titles in the genre dealt with fantasy topics ranging from alien invasion (The Thing, 1951, or Invasion of the Body Snatchers, 1956), to biologial "missing links" (The Creature from the Black Lagoon, 1954), to the bizarre side-effects of nuclear contamination (The Incredible Shrinking Man, 1957), or to actual nuclear war (The World, the Flesh and The Devil, 1959).

Another interesting example of this last category
…show more content…
Strada describes a spectrum of discourses ranging from the extreme right, constituted of the governing elite and the politicians' notion of the Pax Atomica, to the extreme left, occupied by the type of panic about the bomb which resulted in some of the more grizzly works of science fiction literature. The other specific positions he addresses are the "sugar-coated" science fiction films (left of centre), the "avoidance-seeking" general public (centre), and the atomic scientists with their varied acceptance of the H-bomb as a necessary evil (right of centre). Regardless of one's position along the spectrum, the possibility of nuclear war constituted a daily reality in the life of the average American in the nineteen fifties. Government agencies issued specifications for the household bomb shelter, school children experienced weekly drills teaching them the most effective positions to brace themselves against the physical force of an atomic explosion, and true to form, the cinema presented society with various reflections of face of the nuclear potential or the nuclear threat.

In most of the science fiction of the time, a primary concern related to the threat of the end of the world is the belief that humanity, in its bizarre mix of madness and complacency, has created and perfected the means of its own destruction. As a result, even in instances where the nuclear fiction casts 'blame' on an