The Late Great Planet Earth (1979)

Article 2583 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-1-2008
Posting Date: 9-8-2008
Directed by Robert Amram and Rolf Forsberg
Featuring Orson Welles, Babetta, Emile Benoit
Country: USA

Orson Welles takes us upon a speculative tour of recent events and how they may fit into the biblical prophecies of Armageddon.

This movie actually opens entertainingly enough with a false prophet being chased up Vasquez Rocks and then being stoned. Exactly what this has to do with the rest of the movie, I’m not sure, but I suppose it does illustrate the hazards of trying to predict the future. The movie then engages in about twenty minutes of reenactments of the lives of the prophets before getting down to its real footage; snippets of interviews and lots (and I mean LOTS) of stock footage. It’s all tied together by Orson Welles asking us every few minutes if the events we see in the stock footage might be proof of biblical prophecies come true. Still, whether you buy the premise or not, the movie does give us a good look at the things that were on people’s minds in the late seventies, and though some of the concerns raised are still relevant (terrorists getting hold of nuclear weapons, for instance), others are quite dated (the fearful rise of Transcendental Meditation, for example). Some of it is scary to think about regardless of its status as a sign of Armageddon. But if you love to see stock footage, this is the movie for you. Still, one image sticks in my mind; amid all the stock footage of marching soldiers, atomic bomb explosions, erupting volcanoes, starving people and time-lapse flower photography, there’s about one-half second of none other than Ignatz the Slurpasaur, and, at this moment, any chance of this movie really scaring me went down the tubes. If I ever watch it again, it will probably be to spot Ignatz.


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