Quarantine Film Diary: Until the End of the World (1991)

Until the End of the World

Wim Wenders’ 5-hour-long, “ultimate road trip” film, Until the End of the World is something of a semi-dated curiosity. It portrays a rather startling prevision (from 1991) of what the future (in the film, 1999) would be like, with our omnipresent, audiovisual connection to the rest of the world via technology, and it also contains a kind of bleeding-heart romanticism for the power of dreams and the human subconscious that seems totally out of place in our Tik-Tok culture, nowadays.

The film takes its sweet time in getting to the point. It was shot on 4 continents and in numerous countries. The story doesn’t really coalesce until hour 3 or so. The rest of everything up to that point has been a roundabout traipsing through Earth and humanity, as though the world were a backdrop. Solveig Dommartin and William Hurt and Sam Neill and many more capable actors decamp from city to city, from country to country. Early on, I gave up on the idea that the film was a metaphor and just began to take it on its own terms.

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What may have passed as a treacly, humanistic meditation, in 1991, on the frailty of mankind and the seductive power of dreams, has now, unfortunately, transmuted into an eerily-prescient commentary on our current, 2020, COVID-19 pandemic society. Cut off from our fellow man, how can we be reasonably certain that we know the world won’t just spiral into chaos? Can humanity be trusted? Could it be possible to simply accept our circumstances, here and now, and make the best of things with one another, striving for peace? Or will the destructive desire for us to retreat into our introverted, inner worlds destroy what last hope we have of collaborating on a society and a reality worth living in? I may never watch this film again, but I am not sorry that I did, if only just once.

P.S. the soundtrack is awesome.

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