4:44 Last Day on Earth (Abel Ferrara, 2011)

One of the best films of the year so far, and the recipient of the highest rating I’ve given a new film this year, Abel Ferrara’s 4:44 Last Day on Earth is a must-see film, a strange and oddly touching film that visualizes the last day of life on Earth. If you get a chance to see it, don’t pass it up. My review is up here.

One of last year’s major films was Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, which depicted the end of life on Earth. This year, Abel Ferrara’s apocalyptic drama 4:44 Last Day on Earth deserves, but probably won’t get, similar attention. Despite some similarities, including most curiously ending on a fade to white, these are two rather different films. They have perhaps little to say to one another but a lot to say to us. What they do have in common, most importantly, is their consideration of the apocalypse as a metaphysical phenomenon. But if Melancholia is rooted in individual suffering and depression, then 4:44 is fundamentally a film about humankind’s collective relationship with the cosmos, the great silence that drives us to understand the meaning of our own existence. Ferrara makes this apparent by weaving in images from various religious traditions, but you don’t exactly need these to understand Ferrara’s deep affection for humanity. In making us observe the behavior of a group of people during the last day on earth, Ferrara forces us to witness the best and worst of humanity, but he embraces these two sides as necessary aspects of what makes human life, in the face of obliteration, worth cherishing.