Global Catastrophe in Motion Pictures as Meaning and Message: The Functions of Apocalyptic Cinema in American Film

  • Author(s): Wynn Gerald Hamonic
  • When: 2017-04
  • Where: Journal of Religion & Film
  • The steady rise in production of American apocalyptic films and the genre's enduring popularity over the last seven decades can be explained by the functions the film genre serves. Through an analysis of a broad range of apocalyptic films along with the application of several theoretical and critical approaches to the study of film, the author describes seven functions commonly found in American apocalyptic cinema expressed both in terms of its meaning (the underlying purpose of the film) and its message (the ideas the filmmakers want to convey to the audience). Apocalyptic cinema helps the viewer make sense of the world, offers audiences strategies for managing crises, documents our hopes, fears, discourses, ideologies and socio-political conflicts, critiques the existing social order, warns people to change their ways in order to avert an imminent apocalypse, refutes or ridicules apocalyptic hysteria, and seeks to bring people to a religious renewal, spiritual awakening and salvation message.

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