When Worlds Collide (1951)

Now here’s something I haven’t seen since, shit, no idea when, early 90s at the latest. I probably first saw it in the late 80s, for some reason I suspect it was on some Sunday afternoon or something. No idea why I watched it, and not much memory of it beyond the carnage, which I presume would’ve been kind of stunning in 1951. I daresay it would’ve seemed even more so in the 1930s when Cecil B. DeMille wanted to make it… that was one amazing thing I discovered just tonight; not only was the source novel published in 1932, uncle Cecil actually wanted to make it then too. The history of science fiction cinema could’ve been so different… Anyway, DVD Savant has a nice review which highlights numerous problems with the film, scientific technical (an interesting detail about the infamously fake landscape at the end: apparently George Pal only intended it as a temporary sketch of what he wanted the end to look like, but Paramount included it in the film rather than let him do it properly) and dramatic, but also points up probably the key aspect of the film which I’d either never noticed or forgotten, i.e. the religious allegory… Which is actually stated right up front with no subtlety at all when we open on a Bible that conveniently falls open at the bit where God talks to Noah about destroying the world; but the DVD Savant review also points up the bit about Bellus, the star that destroys the world, with God and Zyra, the planet to which the last humans go, with Jesus. Fascinating, though, that even with God’s help being called upon it’s still science they turn to in order to reach “salvation”… The film’s biggest problem is the seriousness with which it takes itself, it’s not quite good enough to live up to that and as such the film’s never quite as much fun as you’d maybe like. At only 82 minutes, though, its brevity is a virtue and it’s a passable late night watch.

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