Approaching The End

Peter Labuza

October 14, 2014

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Tracing a timeline from World War II to the present day, Approaching the End rethinks apocalyptic cinema by considering its relationship to film noir, the fatalist crime genre of the 1940s and 1950s that remained pervasive through Hollywood’s changing tides. Challenging the common notion of apocalyptic films as special effects destroying cities through natural disasters and alien invasions, Labuza examines films that truly push humanity to the edge, considering why certain American works have imagined our ends. Starting with the explosive Kiss Me Deadly, the book examines various apocalyptic scenarios and how each one ties together through issues of displacement and amorality: from the atomic anxiety of The Big Heat and Lady from Shanghai, to the religious peril of Days of Heaven and The Rapture, to science fiction dystopias of The Terminator and They Live, and ending with the media implosion that is Richard Kelly’s Southland Tales. As diverse as these films may appear on surface, Labuza investigates the hidden structures underneath, which reveal how apocalyptic narratives explore the darker edges of humanity’s moral failings.

“Peter Labuza has a distinctive perspective on cinema, and Approaching the End is full of engaging, provocative ideas and spot-on observations. An auspicious debut.” – Glenn Kenny


Peter Labuza is the host of The Cinephiliacs podcast, an editor with Masters of Cinema, and a film critic whose work has appeared in Variety, Reverse Shot, and Indiewire. He holds an MA and a BA from Columbia University. Find him online at

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