Films have been destroying well known buildings, landmarks and cities for decades, but in recent years there has been an increasing amount of cinematic depictions of apocalyptic events leading to the destruction, or near-destruction, of Earth. With the release of post-apocalyptic films like Oblivion and After Earth in 2013, Roobla explores why Earth is a target.

Some notable post-apocalyptic films of the 2000s include The Road, The Book of Eli and I Am Legend; the films vary in genre and style, while some are characterised as science-fiction, other are horror and drama, but they all share similarities in the state of Earth. It is often abandoned or with little population, barren, showing signs of war or destruction and sometimes radioactive.

Oblivion features Tom Cruise in a role as one of two people left on Earth, working to repair drones which protect the planet from aliens. The planet was nearly destroyed by a nuclear war between humans and the ‘scavs’, and the people won but were forced to vacate Earth due to its condition. In the film, the New York area Cruise protects resembles a barren desert, with poignant reminders of what used to be with remainders of a baseball stadium and the Empire State Building.

Oblivion displays overt anxieties concerning nuclear war as the audience is able to see the devastating effects it had on the beautiful planet, which is represented with Cruise’s frequent visits to a green valley, which contrasts the ugly, depressing feel of its surroundings. While the film’s war was caused by beings from another planet, it is undoubtedly an allegory for the threat of nuclear weapons from North Korea, and a possible warning for if the threats ever develop.

In addition, its ultra-modern technology, a minimalistic and sleek home and headquarters floating above New York, round flying robots with artillery and the ability to detect humans and aliens, and laser weapons, are integral to the story. The destruction of Earth was undoubtedly caused by technology, and Cruise’s character relies on it so much that it almost harms him, it is very much in control; is this a commentary on the Western world’s reliance and obsessive use of technology, and will it come to dominate our lives?

Similar allegories to Oblivion may be found in many other post-apocalyptic films, with a bit of analysis, it may be discovered that the movies are saying many things about modern society; war, global warming and technology. With the upcoming release of After Earth, which stars Will and Jaden Smith who crash land in the long-abandoned and dangerous Earth, it will be interesting to see if it features any fears and anxieties currently concerning Western society.

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