Approaching the End: A New Take on Film Noir and Apocalypse
October 14, 2014

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Glenn Kenny has called it “an auspicious debut.” Available now from The Critical Press: Approaching the End: Imagining Apocalypse in American Film by Peter Labuza.

When most people think of “apocalyptic cinema,” they think of exploding cities or charred wastelands, alien invaders or societal collapse. And while the spectacle of films like Independence Day are popular, these still tend to be movies about hope: about good people making positive moral choices and finding a way to survive. They are inherently melodramatic.

But there’s another strain of film that runs through the history of American cinema: noir. Though traditionally associated with hard-boiled crime films from the 1940s and 50s, noir is in fact a pervasive mode of American cinema that can be in found in many different genres.

In Approaching the End, Peter Labuza investigates this mode and analyzes a number of films that take advantage of it. From classic atomic-age noirs like Kiss Me Deadly to the religious peril implicit in Days of Heaven, the unstoppable future dystopia in The Terminator to the media saturation of Southland Tales, Labuza looks at how these films all use noir’s inherently apocalyptic structure to comment on their own contemporary and personal fears.

Want to see more about Peter Labuza’s take on film noir? Check out the video essay below in which he discusses the different approaches Hollywood takes to storytelling: Noir and Melodrama.

Approaching the End is available as either paperback and ebook, or as a paperback/ebook combination. Order it from our website here.