Two billion years ahead of us, a future race of humans finds itself on the verge of extinction. Almost all that is left in the world are lone and surreal monuments, beaming their message into the wilderness.
It’s a big shame that Last and First Men is the first and last film to be directed by Jóhann Jóhannsson, who usually serves as a composer on big-name movies. When he passed away in February of 2018, the film industry was left heartbroken, as we knew that a massively talented man had passed far too soon.
But back in 2017, he directed a strange, incredibly hypnotic film titled Last and First Men, which is narrated by actress Tilda Swinton. It’s a seventy-minute long experience that aims to whisk you away to another world and tell a bizarre yet thought-provoking story. In these regards, Jóhannsson’s film succeeds quite well, even if it does feel quite pretentious at times and doesn’t always make sense. It does, at times, feel like style over substance.
Although that may be the case though, that doesn’t take away from the fact that this movie does offer a number of scenes that will leave you thinking for quite some time. It presents questions about the world we live in, life as a whole, and the existence of humans. But it presents these ideas in ways that aren’t pandering to audiences. In fact, a lot of people are going to watch this film and say that absolutely nothing happened, and that’s understandable.
On the surface, it sure does seem like this movie is just a large showcase of visually stunning objects pictured in a black-and-white color scheme, but the story and themes are there, you just have to look hard enough to find them. Is that frustrating? Somewhat. But for the viewer that is looking for an interesting experience and one that will stay in your mind for a while after watching it, then they are in for a treat.
Like I mentioned earlier, it can feel a little bit pretentious with Swinton’s narration accompanying the film throughout, with some lines of dialogue being deeply confusing and hard to process. It also feels a little bit longer than it really is, even if the film as a whole is a journey that I deeply appreciated. This is good proof that Jóhannsson would have made for an immensely unique filmmaker. But, we should all be happy that he was able to make one incredibly fresh film in the form of Last and First Men.
Last and First Men offers interesting commentary on themes such as our world, life, and humans, even if it feels somewhat pretentious at times.
Overall Grade: B+
MPAA Rating: N/A
Cast: Tilda Swinton
Directed by: Jóhann Jóhannsson
Distributed by: N/A
Release Date: 2020
Running Time: 70 minutes