Astronomer Martial Novalic discovers that a comet is on a collision course with planet Earth. With the end of the world well and truly nigh, Novalic tries to galvanise action that may save mankind from extinction. Meanwhile, his saintly brother, Jean, prays for a miracle. With civilisation on the brink of collapse, the governments of the world resort to increasingly brutal methods to maintain social order. Too late. Whilst some pray in desperation, others sate their animal appetites in one final orgy. It’s The End… —Films de France
Abel Gance was the major figure among directors in 1920s French film, and among the most ambitious visionaries of the silent cinema. Fueled by literary ambitions from childhood, Gance began working as an actor at the age of 19, with the ambition of breaking into playwriting. In 1909, Gance managed to get a job writing movie scenarios for Gaumont and, by 1911, was directing them. None of Gance’s earliest films survive, but his first viewable effort demonstrates that he was already pioneering the use of unusual visual effects. In the short La Folie du Docteur Tube (1915), Gance uses an anamorphic lens to illustrate the story of a mad doctor who uses a ray to twist everyday objects and people out of shape. Gance gained his first good notices from critics with Mater Dolorosa (1917), a genuine tragedy without a “happy ending,” relatively rare in French cinema of the day. With this film, Gance began to use editing and camerawork to project the interior thoughts of his characters.
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