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The end is coming – to a theater near you

General view of the atmosphere before the screening of
General view of the atmosphere before the screening of "Armageddon" during AFI & Walt Disney Pictures' "A Cinematic Celebration of Jerry Bruckheimer" held at the Mann Chinese 6 on May 17, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.
Angela Weiss/Getty Images for AFI

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Humans have been wondering and fretting about how the world will end since we had the brain power to understand that it might.

Every culture has told stories about it and religious texts feature different versions of Armageddon, but in modern times, what better place to address those universal fears about the apocalypse than on the big screen?

Movies have depicted the end of the world with bangs and with whimpers - things like wars, asteroids, nuclear holocaust, violent aliens, planetary collisions, zombies, gamma rays, horsemen, evil microbes and every other conceivable form of destruction have all been used as plot elements for dystopian movies that were funny, scary or both. With the supposed end of the Mayan calendar ticking to an ominous close this December, Hollywood has been cashing in on Armageddon fever.


Does the end of the world make for a good night at the Cineplex? Are you tying up loose ends in anticipation of the apocalypse, and, if so, how would you prepare for the end of the world?


Natalie Cleaver, taught "Apocalypse Then and Now" at U.C. Berkeley; recent Ph.D. graduate in comparative literature from U.C. Berkeley