46 – When Worlds Collide (1951)

Waste anything except TIME. Time is our shortest material.

How about an oscar winner this week? This came from the great year for sci-fi, that is 1951, along with The Day the Earth Stood Still and The Man in The White Suit this made for a classic year, and this could well be described as the grandaddy of apocalyptic cinema. To our modern-day honed senses, this may seem quite dated now, but this was made only 6 years after the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, this was the world we were moving into, the potential for an apocalypse. This story was actually written in the 1930’s however Cinema is at its best when it takes stories and adapts them for the age they are made in.

The film as religious undertones, and starts with a biblical reference talking of god looking upon the earth and destroying it with a flood, and Noah building his Ark. In the story here we have scientists predicting a planet and its sun will pass through our solar system, and on its course destroy the earth. throughout the film we witness man’s greed and also the dark way that he will cling to life, this is certainly one of our apocalyptic motifs, seen in many films after.

What makes When Worlds Collide stand out is the special effects, there is a two-minute sequence in the film using models, we see the destruction of earth, culminating in a tidal wave washing through New York, inspiring many a Roland Emmerich shot in years to come. As I have already said this film can be quite dated in places, the laughable love triangle, even more so when the scientists go to the United Nations, they are laughed out the building by other countries, this results in them building their own ark, which is only built by white people, and eventually the passengers of the ark which fly to the new world are all white, some have argued that this is a sign that the producers believed in ethnically cleansing the world, for me, I believe it is just a sign of the times, its 1951, we only have to remember how much controversy was caused in the 1960’s when Gene Roddenberry cast a black woman in Lieutenant Uhuru, one of the main protagonists and an officer in Star Trek

At 82 minutes When Worlds Collide is an easy way to pass some time before the apocalypse, and it earns its place on this list as the grandaddy of apocalyptic films, this film has inspired many movies down the years and stories. The special effects certainly make this worth a watch, the film is due to be remade later this year, which just adds to the interest.


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