Ideas of Apocalypse and Conspiracy Theory in Contemporary Cinema

Essay, 2010

9 Pages, Grade: A


Ideas of Apocalypse and Conspiracy Theory in Contemporary Cinema

The definition of apocalypse described by Burgess and Nur (2008) is “The battle at the end of the world, as described in the Book of Revelation in the Bible. Sometimes also used to describe any religiously charged major societal upheaval” (Burgess and Nur, 2008). This essay will investigate this definition and see if it fits contemporary beliefs. Ideas of the apocalypse have fascinated the public throughout history. Every society has different ideas or predictions about a global cataclysm that will end the world. The end was once interpreted as a supernatural event in which the Earth would be purified by a Deity or divine God. Scientific beliefs about a natural cataclysmic event that will end the world compete with religious theories. During the investigation of Roland Emmerich’s film of 2009, 2012, Solar flares, pole shifts, Earth crust displacement, the Rapture, the Mayan Calendar, the Hopis all give detailed accounts of how the Earth will be destroyed. 2012 shows the conflicting ideas of contemporary society; and this essay will show the various theories and how they act as a guide for surviving the end of the world. The theme of conspiracy theory is also extremely evident throughout society today and these theories are exposed in 2012.

The Mayans predicted the end will occur on 21st December 2012; The Mayans were “the most mysterious of the civilisations of pre-Columbian America,” (Thompson, 1996, page 191) whose Calendar ends in 2012. Holba Mentions Arnold’s suggestion that a cataclysmic natural disaster will occur in 2012, “by way of the “ring of fire” (Hart and Holba, 2009, page 91). This destruction would be caused by volcanoes and tectonic plates amongst other natural destructive forces, coinciding with Mayan Calendar prophecy. Arnold’s theory is rooted in science and does not depend on sacred texts. Holba also states that Gilbert connected the Mayan culture with astrology and astronomy to produce his theory of the end. The Mayans were advanced in aspects of astrology and astronomy; they suggested an impending astronomical polar shift that would occur as a result of planetary alignment or as Wojcik states “the configuration of the planets in the solar system“(Wojcik, 1997, Page 9).

Wojcik also states that the Hopis were another group in Native America who believed in “The Great Purification” that would occur before a global cataclysm. The prophecy is based on the idea that if “sacred knowledge is rejected and if the planet’s resources continue to be exploited after this period of Tribulation, the world would be destroyed” (Wojcik, 1997, Page 9). The Hopis believe we are in the fourth world. The three previous worlds have been destroyed; first by fire; second a pole shift; and finally the third world was destroyed by a flood, (, 2003-2008) and similarly in the Bible, like Noah, the chosen are warned and they build gigantic boats out of reeds. The Hopis believe that the end of the world will occur due to “the increasing corruption of Hopi spiritual values, which will eventually result in the purification of the world, so that life will begin anew and pure” (Loftin, 2003, page xxv). They do not believe in a definitive end but a series of chances to conform to the rules of the Hopis sacred teachings. Keller states that the Hopis view of the world is that it is “part of a cycle of periodic world changes” (Keller, 2005, page 149). There are many variations in the Hopi prophecies, for example; Hundley writes how Lloyd Hildebrand states that “Some prophecies of the Hopis indicate that time will end in 2012, in full agreement with the Mayan calendar’s end date” (Hundley, 2010, page 114). Hundley also points out that after the end, some prophecies indicate that “there will be a “Golden Age” after 2012” (Hundley, 2010, page 114) full of peace. These themes are all used in contemporary cinema today; ensuring mythmaking in film is understood universally, using the similarities of religions and beliefs.

Science has indicated that solar flares could cause problems for Earth in the future. Recently Stanford University published an article on The Strange Case Of Solar Flares And Radioactive Elements, stating that in 2006 the sun sent a beam of radiation and particles to Earth “Purdue nuclear engineer Jere Jenkins, while measuring the decay rate […] noticed that the rate dropped slightly during the flare” (Stanford University, 2010). The article states that their results show “their findings strengthen the argument that the strange swings in decay rates were caused by neutrinos from the sun” (Stanford University, 2010). The swings were parallel to the elliptical orbit of the Earth and as the Earth was closer to the sun, it would be exposed to more neutrinos, which would change the Earth’s decay rate. As shown in 2012, the neutrinos melt the Earth from the core; like a microwave. There are various scientific theories on how and when the end will come and one would suggest that a scientific explanation seems more plausible than the Rapture.

The Bible’s predictions that God will cause another apocalypse have been wrong in the past. Weber (2000) states how there have been many predictions which have turned out to be false. Thompson states that Reverend Baxter, the editor of the London Christian Herald, announced in 1889 that a Rapture of 144,000 Christians would occur in 1896 and “ the world would end in 1901” (Thompson, 1999, page 120-121). James (Date unknown) writes in his article, The 2012 Prophecy, that there is no set date for this event. So the belief in whether there is a set date is arguable amongst the believers. The main belief in Christianity is that The Second Coming of Christ will occur in stages. First, faithful Christians will be taken away from Earth; The Rapture. This will be followed by a reign of Christ for 1000 years, and then comes the Tribulation or judgement. A war is then fought between good and evil and the evil will be tossed into “the lake of fire, i.e. Hell. After that, God will destroy Heaven and Earth because they have been polluted by sin” (Reinckens, 1998, Online).


Excerpt out of 9 pages


Ideas of Apocalypse and Conspiracy Theory in Contemporary Cinema
University of Derby
BA in Sociology and Film and Television Studies
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ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
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ideas, apocalypse, conspiracy, theory, contemporary, cinema
Quote paper
Lea Weller (Author), 2010, Ideas of Apocalypse and Conspiracy Theory in Contemporary Cinema, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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