Five (1951)

 Post-nuclear-war dramas centering on a small group of survivors now constitute an entire genre in science-fiction films. All of them, in some way or another, can be traced back to this seminal film from 1951 in which five people deal with the possibility they are the only human beings left alive on the planet.

While most of the later movies exploited this possibility for B-movie thrills, "Five" adopts a quiet, contemplative tone which some may find dull but which thoughtful viewers are more likely to find, for want of a better word, haunting. There is something about this movie which gets under the skin and which lurks in the corners of the mind long after it's over.

Especially memorable is the trip to the city made by two of the survivors. The images of skeletons sitting in cars and buses still have an impact with their silent, disturbing, even horrifying beauty.

Five people are miraculously spared when the fall-out from a super-atomic bomb eventually kills all of the rest of humanity on earth. They are Roseanne Rogers, a pregnant woman who was in an ex-ray room; Michael, a sensitive young poet and philosopher; Eric, a black man; Mr. Barnstaple, a banker; and Charles, a cosmopolitan Alpinist who was saved from the radio-active dust because he was climbing Mt. Everest at the time of the explosion and fall-out. Eventually, they all wind up in a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house on a California mountaintop. There is a lot of symbolism, especially with the mountain climber, who represents decadent and alien fascism and the banker who brings greed and arrogance to this new Eden on Earth.

(Les Adams, dinky-4 IMDB)

Director: Arch Oboler
Writers: Arch Oboler (story), James Weldon Johnson (dialogue)



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