“Leave the world behind” – a realistic experience of the apocalypse

“Leave the World Behind” is a surprisingly enjoyable film that, while seemingly slow, manages to hold your interest and successfully conveys its message. Humanity is presented with spontaneous realism in a situation where the world may be ending, but nothing is certain.

The other films in the apocalypse genre show us what the end of the world would be “like in a movie”. There, the most important thing is to see the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower collapse one after the other. In contrast, in Leave the World Behind the apocalypse is presented in a realistic way and the viewers is in the characters’ shoes the whole time because they are just as confused.

In every other movie, the threat is specified – aliens, robots, Muslims, Koreans, etc. are coming to destroy America. And based on that information, any of us can begin to think about a possible solution to the problem. But here the enemy is faceless and this makes its victims numb in ignorance and useless in retaliation.

There are several scenes in Leave the World Behind that could be called a triumph of realism. They present the characters as ordinary people, but there is real drama in them, and they say quite sincerely things that are tragically true about humanity. Such are, for example, the scene between the two women in the shed and the one in which Ethan Hawke’s character has to persuade the neighbour to help him. Further realness is conveyed by the involvement of “Friends” in the plot, because it’s something any Millennial can identify with – finding solace in the show when things in life totally go wrong.

Terminating the flow of information is by itself equivalent to the end of the world as we know it. None of us will be able to function normally or even carry out most of our daily activities without the Internet and mobile phones. In the film, it takes the characters a long time to even figure out if something scary is actually happening because they have not had a chance to call their friends in city and ask. The lack of information leaves you paralyzed in a sense of timelessness and isolation that is quite enough to make you doubt everything and panic.

The film gives us many more questions than answers, but this is how the viewer empathizes with the characters. The answers are important, of course, but here our attention is drawn to how many possible threats there are, could we have a preference for them, and would we even be able to know what is happening to the world even when it is in danger.

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