The End of the World (1916)

aka Verdens undergang
Article 3092 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 11-4-2009
Posting Date: 1-31-2010
Directed by August Blom
Featuring Alf Blutecher, Olaf Fonss, Johanne Fritz-Petersen
Country: Denmark
What it is: Early Danish Disaster movie

Various characters living in or associated with a small Danish mining town deal with impending doom when an astronomer discovers the existence of a new comet that will enter the atmosphere of the Earth.

This movie opens with the introduction of several characters and then concentrates on the various domestic travails of their lives. It’s only after this that the comet is discovered, and it’s here that the movie takes its most interesting turn – it concentrates on an investor who sees the plunge in the stock market following the announcement of the comet as an opportunity to make a fortune. Since this investor is a relative of the astronomer who discovered the comet, he gets inside info on the impending disaster and uses it to make his fortune, even to the point of working with an unscrupulous newspaper editor to plant fraudulent information designed to create the right economic climate. Had the movie continued this exploration of greed and finance, it would have proven to be a fascinating, relevant and unique movie. Unfortunately, the movie then begins concentrating on the more conventional melodramatic plot elements that were being set up at the beginning of the movie, so we have a jealous lover, class battles, an angry father who curses his daughter who eloped without his permission, a pair of separated lovers who try to reunite, etc. It’s at this point that the movie becomes very similar to the disaster movies of the seventies, which may make it one of the earliest examples of the form. Still, it is a disappointing direction after the section about economics. I do like how the movie does show us (often without comment) the comet in the sky during some of the outdoors sequences in the middle of the movie, even if it looks something like the comet in THE BRAINIAC; notice how when the camera pans in some of these scenes, the comet pans with it. The scenes of destruction at the end are satisfying enough, though. Not bad, but it could have been better.


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