Contemporary Japanese and American Cinematic Visions of the Apocalypse and PostApocalypse

Essay by walloffameUniversity, Bachelor'sA, October 2014

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Nick Wall

14 January, 2014

Contemporary American and Japanese Cinematic visions of the Apocalypse and Post


The envisioning of the end of the world or the destruction of society has been a common theme addressed across the world throughout history by writers, artists, and philosophers alike. In more modern times however, cinema has emerged as the primary vehicle of envisioning apocalyptic thought. The cinematic depiction of the apocalypse, an event that would bring about the end of the world or a radical negative change in society, has been largely dominated by two separate cultures, American and Japanese.

Although the common usage of the word "apocalypse" is a more encompassing term for all the movies dealing with the apocalypse, for the purposes of this paper, the term necessitates that the setting of the movie must take place and center around this event. This leaves a clear distinction between apocalypse and post apocalypse, which will be examined later.

The post apocalypse is a term describing the aftermath of an apocalyptic event, and usually centers around the dystopian society caused by the event. While both the contemporary American and Japanese cinematic visions of the apocalypse and post apocalypse both rely on visually stimulating imagery, they differ in their depiction of the apocalypse in their victim versus transgressor mindset, while their visualizations of the post apocalypse are similar both in terms of their cause and their resultant dystopian societies.

The apprehension of the apocalypse is prevalent all throughout American society. "Apocalypse awareness exists in Europe but is particularly strong in the United States, where the constant resurgence of doomsday cults, from the 19th century Shakers to the followers of David Roresh in Waco, gives strong support to John W. Nelson's assertion that 'apocalyptic is as American as the hot dog'" (Nelson 179). The...