End Of Days Essay, Research Paper
End of Days
The Millennium has had a wide variety of effects on our popular culture, which is evident by how the ideas about the millennium are encoded, perpetuated, and disseminated to a mass adiuence. A large protion of ideas about the millennium are circulated to the population through the use of movies and film. To this end, one movie, entitled “The End of Days”, which was released in December 1999, is an excelent portyal of the American reaction to the Millennium in general. “The End of Days” illustrates many of the fundamental topics relavent to the Millennium, such as the concept of End Time, religion, apocalyptic violence, and culture.
To the general aduience, the synposis of the movie “The End of Days” which is publized by its producers, Universal Pictures, reads as follows:
“Jericho Cane (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a beaten down ex- cop, is the reluctant hero of “End of Days.” a chilling, horrific thriller set at the cusp of the millennium. When the ultimate personification of evil is unleashed upon the world, Cane is unwittingly drawn into a heart-stopping supernatural game of cat and mouse. Now as the countdown to the end of days approaches, all that stands in the way of mankind’s destruction is the salvation of one woman, whose fate comes to rest in Cane’s shaky hands.”
From this synopsis the average American notes the ideas of End time and the millennium rolled up into a nice action-adventure film, with really vivid scenes. I believe that the “End of Days” was intentionally created so that it would be appealing to everyone, as it encompassed both truth and fiction, through action, lust (sex), horror, and drama. However, most American do not notice the subtle messages being relayed about end time.
Perhaps the part of the reason for the adiuences inability to pick up on these sublties was due to the fact that the main hero character of the movie was Arnold Schwarzenegger. This is also at least a majority of the reason the critics hated this film. But if one examines the plot and negates who played who, the film’s value of the popluar American cultures views regarding the millennium become apparent. Moreover, there are certain aspects and characteristics of the “End of Days” which speak of the core ideas, fears, and hopes for the millennium. In the “End of Days”, the first scene is a perfect example of this, since it is here where the most basic, age-old struggle begins in the movie.
The first scene, emphasizes the fundamental concept of religion since “The End of Days” begins at the Vatican in 1979 with the declaration being made that the chosen one is about to be born. It is here where the struggle of good verse evil begins, as there is a brief debate between Vatican officials as to whether or not to kill the chosen one at the time of her birth or to protect and shelter her from evil. The debate of this matter ends when the Pope himself decides that she most be protected and sheltered from evil, because as he states, “In killing her we will sin, and there is no redemption for those who violate the laws of God”. He continues by adding that their faith must lie with God to save them. With this the most basic and primial struggle of mankind, almost instantiniously thars the adieunce into the mindset of the classic Good verse Bad scenario.
Continuing along this religious context the next scene in “The End of Days” shift to a hospital, where a baby is being born. As soon as the young child is born she is whisked away by the nurse who states that the child most be cleaned right away. Down to the basement the nurse and baby go, only to find a small cult like gathering in the morgue. You see that the baby has a strange mark branded onto the small of her arm and the cult performs what appeared to me to be some satanic ritual before returning her to her mother. Projected in only this scene is the image of the “chosen one”, Christine York, as being pure and inicent. It is this baby girl who the audience is to later find out who is the “chosen one”. She, discovered to be Christine York, is chosen, as it is succeeding explain who has been chosen because “the stars were right when she was born”, to have sex with satan, when he comes to (every thousand years) to claim his bride, her. Still as it is stated by the clergy of the Catholitc church, “If they are allowed to mate, everything as we know it ceases to exist”. This cases a dark image is around the character of Christine York. Throughout the rest of the “End of Days” the audinces impression of her is not so much evil as she holds a darkened, unpure, delusional, and no virgin characteristics, coupled with the fact that Christine York is an orphaned non-believer. There just seems to be this uncommon shadow around her image.
The final time shift in the “End of Days” occurs in scene three, leaping 20 years into the future, to the year 1999, only days before the turn of the millennium. It is in this scene where the main character is introduced as, Jericho Cane (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Unlike many movie similar to the theme of the “End of Days”, Jericho Cane, the hero is an alcoholic, security agent continually contemplating suicide and who is generally unhappy with life. Jericho’s involvement begins with the attempted assassination of his client, a Wall Street broker, by an old priest (no tongue). In itself this scene in the movie touches on all of the fundamental concpets of the millennium. However, it more importantly speaks of the changes of social acceptance. At no other point in history would mass media attempt or the general audience accept an alcholoic, unholy hero and a vaticain priest as the vilan. I believe that this says more about modern culture than anything else, as it also relays to the uniqueness of the plot of the “End of Days”.
Upon, Jericho Cane’s meeting of Christine York (Robin Tunney), by rescuing her from the Vatican Knights, the plot of the “End of Days” takes off on an accurate preciction of popular culture’s fear about the millennium. As Jericho realizes he has to save this girl or the world will be ruled by darkness forever. Yet, this is no easy task, due to the fact that the Devil is treacherous and skillful, tempting everyone he comes upon, even Jericho. The clock is ticking and the millennium is approaching, it is nearing the end of days. And the world depends on Jericho Cane to overcome his own internal conflicts, to save them.
Many of the expert film critics would have you believe that the “End of Days” is a horribly bad motion picture. However, it is more watchable than some critics would have you believe. For example, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the “End of Days” a slightly above -average overall rating but added that “Movies like this are particularly vulnerable to logic.” Ebert’s statement holds true because it is the intention of mass media to encode the popular culture’s fears and ideas pertaining to the millennuim as entertainment so that it is excepted by masses. In doing this, mass media influences the popular culture by instilling their own thoughts on the matter. Furthermore, by disseminating popular culture’s reservations about the milllennium through the illusion of entertainment, it is my opinion that mass media lessens the fears and anxieties of the popular culture surrounding the millennium.
A number of criticisms regarding the “End of Days” have resulted from the film’s gory, dark, and lustful imagery. Nevertheless, these images are essential to the film since they are the visual aids used by the mass media to encode the messages of popular culture’s concerns with the millennium, which are therefore important to the film overall, seeing as the “End of Days” would have less of an impact on the mass audience without all the vivid and somewhat disguising images. Consequently, the dark imagery is necessary to the “End of Days” for the reason that it is used to create a very real representation of the Devil and in bringing all his evil to life. For this fact only, the imagery is necessary to perpetuate the liberation of popular culture’s millennium anxiety. Similarly, to the film’s use of gory, dark and graphic imagery, those scenes in the “End of Days” which depict images representive to God and the power of his good, are flooded with light and visually illustrate God’s contrasting equality to that of the Devil.
The “End of Days” is a movie set on in New York City the dawn of a new millennium and emphasizes far more than the age-old struggle of good verse evil. Additionally, the “End of Days” stresses the fact, through its choice of New York City as its setting location, that mass media can be aimed at both the mass audience and the individual. This point is demonstrated from the fact that places like New York City, while vast in size, can also give the impression of resembling a much smaller community, because in a city that size on is feel to explore one’s own individualism, without fear of being crutinized like in a small rural town.
Furthermore, a couple critics even went as far as to say that the “End of Days” stimulated the viewer to discover the meaning of faith in our own lives, pointing out that the “End of Days” gives great warning to all that the devil is real and will sneak upon you when you are not careful. These concepts play into the popular cultures fears and anxieties but at the same time, instill a sense of hope for mankind. Overall the “End of Days” plot played on the reservations many people hold in regards to the millennium through the use of biblical notations and passages, as well as excellent special effects. Moreover, it reflects a number of the religious uncertainties and concerns the individuals of popular culture face at the end of the millennium.
There are a number of key idea and themes that the “End of Days” notes which specifically distinguishs itself apart from other films similar to it. First, the fact that the hero of the “End of Days”, Jericho Cane is not holy and pure, yet rather someone who has lost his faith but not his moral sense of what is right. This is illustrated a couple of times throughout the movie, imparticularly in the family flashback scene, where Jericho Cane experiences life-like visions of the events that caused the death of his wife and daughter (an act of revenge for his interfering with criminal elements). In this scene, Satan is attempting to get Jericho to side with him, over God. Satan states that, ” When something good happens it’s Gods will, When something bad happens, God works in strange ways”. While Jericho does decline Satan’s offer, the statement made by Satan goes further than the scene of the film, as it demonstrates Jericho’s internal struggle and spiritual crisis. A second idea emphasized throughout the “End of Days” is that “Satan’s greatest trick was to convince man into believing he didn’t exist”. While an attempt by mass media to perpetuate the uncertainty of the mass audience reagarding their own fate upon the new millennium, this also coincieds to Satan’s ability to kill without warning and out of silence. Additionally, there are two symbolic crucifixions depicted in the “End of Days”. One of the old priest and the other of Jericho, which follows seemingly as a result of both’s connection to God. Although, the old priest’s connection was apparent all along, Jericho was questionable, up until Jericho makes his peace with God at the end of the “End of Days”. The conclusion of the “End of Days”, however, is where Jericho plunges himself on to a sword to save York and moreover to save mankind.
The “End of Days” illustrates the ideas of the popular culture at the dawn of the new millennium. Portraying the internal conflicts between religious belief, and the fears of human existence once it arrives. However, one of the most important ideas in the “End of Days” is that the hero is imperfect and struggling with his own beliefs like many humans are, especially as the new millennium approaches. Still, he is able to find strength in the face of adversity to do anything and everything necessary to ensure the continuation of life as we know it. The movie is a combination of both truth and fiction, which allows the viewer to relate to the story, but hinders one’s fears of the possiblity of this actually happening. Overall, I believe that the movie the “End of Days” is a perfect example of the effects of the new millennium on the popular culture.