Our Daily Trailer: ON THE BEACH

Post-Apocalyptic Week continues with

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

In 1957, Nevil Shute published a novel about a group of Melbourne citizens living out the last days on Earth, as radiation fallout from an endless third World War creeps its way toward the Southern Hemisphere. An American nuclear submarine captain, an officer in the Australian navy and his wife and daughter, a flirtatious young woman with a penchant for drink, a civilian scientist and other members of this peculiar population, among the last on Earth, all spend their days living, loving, fighting - but ultimately waiting, suicide pills hidden away in pockets as they prepare to rescue themselves from the radiation sickness that will soon start to ravage them, in a period of six months or less. 

On the Beach is brilliant, devastating, relentless, one of the first and most unblinking suppositions of nuclear winter - and two years later, Stanley Kramer directed a haunting adaptation of it, starring an all-time cast: Gregory Peck, Ava Gardner, Fred Astaire and Anthony Perkins take on the roles of the hopeless but passionate survivors. 

This week on BAD, we've been celebrating (?) Post-Apocalyptic Week in honor of Bong Joon-ho's Snowpiercer, and Shute's novel - soon followed by Kramer's film - was the first, most terrifying piece of fiction I ever absorbed about the threat of nuclear apocalypse. The bleak acceptance Moira, Dwight, Peter, Mary and John (Julian in the film) feel for their fate has stayed with me for decades, and set On the Beach apart from far more colorful views of a post-apocalyptic future. 

Kramer's film (written by John Paxton) has plenty of departures from the novel - most significantly, the survivors in Australia are the last on the planet, where in Shute's book there are still populations remaining all over the Southern Hemisphere - but most of the changes are superficial. This is a respectful adaptation of a genuinely incisive novel. In 2000, a Showtime adaptation was released, but I've never felt the need to watch that one. This very cool, thorough trailer has definitely sparked in me the interest to rewatch the original film, however, and I think it might be time to drag out my worn paperback, as well. 

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river.