Recently I’ve been working a lot on my final paper for the class, somewhat forgetting about blog entries. So this blog will be from information I’ve found for my paper and what ideas I’ve started writing about. My main idea for the paper is comparing how movies portray world-ending death versus what science says about how humans accept death. Mostly I’m using the Kübler-Ross standard on the five stages of grief leading to death acceptance. I’m analyzing Children of Men, Doomsday, 2012, and War of the Worlds.
Kübler-Ross describes the process of grief as starting with denial, anger, bargaining, and depression then ending in acceptance. Originally, she said this was only intended to describe individuals accepting their own deaths, because she based her research on dying hospital patients. However, popular media uses these same steps for individuals accepting the death of loved ones also. In movies, evidence of each of these steps cans be seen. Presently, some people have accepted the theory of the world ending in 2012 while others are still in disbelief. This could be attributed to denial if we were to look at it from that perspective. Anger can be seen in Doomsday as Sol’s tribe of savages seeks to attack the outside world for leaving them to die. Julianne Moore’s character in Children of Men touches on the stage of bargaining. She seems to accept the danger she puts herself and others in to protect the life of one baby. She is willing to accept death and casualties as long as nature allows one to live. Depression is also seen in that movie as illustrated in the first scene. Theo and others around him ignore an explosion and go back to life as if it doesn’t matter. Also, the suicide kits show that people no longer have hope for life. Acceptance, with some conditions, would be in the movie 2012 at the end. The people around the world who can afford to be saved on the arcs have accepted the fate of the deaths of the rest of the world, as long as they survive. Rather than fighting for mankind, they save themselves.
Other means of coping with grief and death acceptance are specific to world-ending situations. There is not any data backing this up because we have not yet encountered an apocalyptic ending to be studied, so most of these ideas of mine and what I have analyzed from the movies. The idea of a hero is present in most of the movies. Much of this can be attributed to traditional protagonist role of a dominant character but it also displays how some may react to an end of days. In War of the Worlds, the main character’s son actually runs off to fight for the cause and save mankind. His father, the main character, was displaying fear rather than courage. Eden Sinclair, the main soldier in Doomsday, crosses the wall into abandoned Scotland to find a cure and rescue the rest of England from death. In this way, those soldiers chose to fight versus accepting their fates. Other themes I have found to illustrate human reactions to apocalyptic endings include creating an alternate world, sacrifices/cannibalism, and developing leadership as a society. These aren’t traditionally what Kübler-Ross had in mind but I plan on developing some ideas of people would really react if the world were truly coming to an end.