Garbage is something we turn our nose up, a sign of disarray, a sign that something is wrong, and is also a common prop amongst many apocalyptic films. I find it interesting that there are so many films of that nature that display the world as ruined in both terms of people being wiped from the earth, and the actual earth itself being turned into garbage.
One film that seems to take that to the next level is Disney-Pixar’s Wall-E. The world has come to an end because garbage has taken over, and when we are introduced to the the title character, Wall-E is trying to “clean up” the world. What the viewer sees though, is a city being built out of garbage. So while Wall-E may be “cleaning” the world, we as viewers see him simply making a new world out of garbage.
Zombieland also used garbage as a way of showing that the world has come to an end. A strip of highway where two of the main characters meet is scattered with abandoned and destroyed cars, garbage is strewn across the roads, and yet the two characters move in and out of this garbage as if it has become part of their lives, and to them it has. There is even one scene within the film when the characters destroy and entire store, adding to the garbage that litters the world. Yet to them, it was a way of release, a way to forget what the world has become for a moment.
Does this mean this has happened to the rest of the world? People were angry, they wanted to forget that zombies, or what ever was causing the world to end, were now roaming the streets, so they destroyed every day objects, and didn’t think it was worth picking up? It’s interesting to wonder why the world turned into what it did for films like Zombieland and Wall-E.
Then there are films that have an apocalypse of sort occur within them, yet there is no sign of struggle or garbage. For example, The Host, a novel that was turned into a film where the human race was inhabited by a foreign alien race, yet the world did not have to be destroyed, it was not turned into a large floating sphere of garbage that exists in space. Why was this apocalypse-like film different, why were they able to portray the world as we know it coming to an end without having garbage being shown every five seconds?
Perhaps we as viewers are unable to imagine an apocalypse without there being some form of destruction. The meaning behind apocalypse is simply the world coming to an end, it never states that there has to be destruction and garbage. And yet nearly every movie involving the apocalypse involves the world being destroyed in some way.
The Host. Dir. Andrew Niccol. Perf. Saoirse Ronan, Max Irons, Jake Abel, Diane Kruger. Universal Pictures, 2013. Film.
Wall-E. Dir. Andrew Stanton. Perf. Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard. Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 2008. Film.
Zombieland. Dir. Ruben Fleisher. Perf. Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin. Columbia Pictures, 2009. Film.