“The World’s End,” is easily the best movie I’ve seen all summer. It had witty humour, a layered plot, and complex characters. I enjoyed it from start to finish – almost. By the end I was actually pretty disappointed. While watching this film, you believe it to be no more than a fun comedy, but by the end, you realize that it is a socialist message film – or at least, the end gives you a clear glimpse into the writer/directors mind on the topic of freedom and collectivism. Before I explain further, here’s a quick recap of the end:
The protagonist, Gary King (Simon Pegg), and his best friend (NIck Frost) finally arrive at The World’s End, the last bar on their list of twelve to visit in one night, and they discover that it is actually headquarters for an extra-terrestrial, omniscient being responsible for replacing the citizens of their home town with robotic-like replicas. It is then revealed that this mind has been traveling the universe and colonizing sentient species in an attempt to spread peace and prosperity through a kind of hyper collectivism, where his “beneficiaries” adopt the same desire to further colonize their planet. The being then offers the two friends an opportunity to submit their autonomy to him, but the friends resolutely object.
Now, as a conservative watching this film, your heart might have soared from seeing a Hollywood movie so openly reject collectivism – but for the way its opposite, individualistic freedom, was portrayed. The movie depicted the omniscient being, the collectivist, as logical and calm. On the other hand, the protagonist and his friend, the individualists, came off as whiney children who, no matter how hard mommy pleaded and bargained, would simply stick out their tongues and say “Don’t wanna!”
Their position was that it is a human right to be free to make bad decisions, which is true, but primarily through the protagonist–a total screw up–the film depicted this position as childish. In a much earlier scene, Gary proclaims to his best friend that he is free because he is jobless, without family, and without ambition or responsibilities. And so alternatively, his friend, an accomplished adult, was not free in that he had a steady well-paying job and a family. This film routinely defined ‘freedom’ not as having the ‘ability to do what one desires,’ but as ‘the ability to live without responsibilities.’ It completely perverted the principle of freedom.
The omniscient being finally gives up on trying to convince the protagonist of his mission to unify the universe and actually leaves planet Earth, but not before taking the technological advancements he provided Earth with him, effectively sending humanity back to the stone ages. The film seemed to attribute the exponential growth of technological advancements to collectivism, while freedom was further shown to be primitive and infantile. It is understood that this film is only science fiction, but how it perverted reality was unbearable. After all, it is individualism and the individual pursuit of pleasure, happiness, and wealth that has lead to technological advancement and innovation, not collectivism.
We could give the writers, director, and actors the benefit of the doubt and say they had all just come together to make a fun movie, but the same writers, director, and actors portrayed Americans and American values in the movie “Paul” as being primitive and childish all the same! It’d be very hard to make the case that they didn’t know exactly what they were trying to say with this film. Even as the protagonist and his friend managed to defeat the extra-terrestrial, the outcome was so dire it hardly seemed worth celebrating. There was a clear moral of the story: humanity has to sacrifice its individualistic desire to be free if we want to advance and live in peace.
Avey Owyns | University of Windsor (Ontario) | @AveyOwyns