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THE LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH was a book that was like nothing before it. Using cold war era interpretation the book and film heralded the second coming of Christ Jesus and the rise of the Antichrist. The film and book were smash hits because they catered to fear. People scared of the imposition of a mark on the right hand or the forehead went to see this film and read the book only got even more afraid because there was nothing it seemed they could do to stop these events. The book and film use use scenarios featuring a clash between the united states and NATO vs. Russia and the Warsaw PACT. China also flex's her military muscle and the Arab nations attack Israel. This series of clashes leads up to Armageddon. This is great but the Warsaw pact is disbanded (as of this writing)and Russia is no longer the threat it once was since 1989-1990 with the reunification of Germany. Still Lindsy clings to his suspicion of Russia invading Israel when he speaks on TV and in print. Some weeks it's demons invading as alien grey like beings. The problem with Lindsey is he can't make up his mind. The film is not a bad film for collectors of Christian cinema but on a intellectual level be wary.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Perhaps it is not so extraordinary to think that, back in the late 70s,
people were going to see something like this in the cinema in their
droves, but it is rather stretching credibility to imagine how anyone
took the film seriously. Based on the best selling book by Hal Lindsey,
this hotchpotch of Biblical prophecy, interviews with spurious
"experts", stock footage and re-enactments tries to convince its
audience that the end times, as prophesied by the Old Testament
prophets, Jesus and John of Revelations are on the verge of coming
true. The best thing about the film is that it is narrated by Orson
Welles, and his vocal and physical presence and carny-like ability to
wink legerdemain whilst seeming completely serious is put to good
effect, although this is certainly his subversion rather than the
filmmaker's intentions (although why they chose of all people the
creator of the radio War of the Worlds and F for Fake to narrate this
is a hilarious mystery).
The film begins with some Biblical re-enactments: a false prophet is thrown off a mountain, Jeremiah is surprised that God wants to speak through him and John the Revelator stumbles around Patmos. These scenes, cheaply filmed and poorly acted, bring to mind less ancient times than more recent satirical depictions of the desert fathers, such as Bunuel's Simon of the Desert or Monty Python's Life of Brian. Once John has begun revelating, we are treated to a montage of him in the desert inter-cut with planes, tanks and bombs a sequence that has rather too much in common with Judas' Damned for all Time number in the film of Jesus Christ, Superstar.
We then enter the meat of the film's "argument", that now are the times when these Biblical prophecies shall be fulfilled. A cornucopia of modern troubles cross the screen, in no particular order (the film bears some relation to a Mondo, but is less well-edited or entertaining); we are worried by images of wars and famines, pollution (the film is a kind of forbear of An Inconvenient Truth here), genetic engineering, occultism and eastern religions. These random things to fear are held together by the idea that the Jews have now re-established themselves in the Holy Land and, since 1967, have possession of Jerusalem. The prophecy that the Jewish temple shall be rebuilt comes up against the rather inconvenient presence of The Dome of the Rock mosque, but here Orson comes into his own by satirising his narration that this problematic structure might be dismantled or destroyed of course it might, but that's hardly saying anything.
If anything, the film acts as a kind of barometer of the muddle-headed middle American fears of its age, with people as worried about nuclear cataclysm as they are about Indian gurus bringing transcendental meditation to the States. A promising section, perhaps influenced by The Omen, suggests that the Antichrist might be a populist American president Carter, Teddy Kennedy and Reagan are all under suspicion, and the hick man of the people looked forward to as the film's central casting idea of the Beast sounds scarily like Dubya. But fears from the home front are soon pushed aside by lots of scare-mongering about Russia (supposed to the Armageddon's Gog) and China who both have their eyes on the Middle East's fossil fuels US imperialism goes unmentioned.
The film ends entertainingly with a full-throttle montage of modern desert warfare, culminating in a Strangelove-type compilation of mushroom clouds, a vision of untouched nature, some time-lapse flowers and Orson booming out verses from Revelations as the stars appear. The film was perhaps best experienced on the big screen after a heavy toke on a strong Moroccan hashish.
Lindsey is interviewed himself, and comes across as a dull-headed idiot. Many of his prophecies such as The Beast coming from the "10 state" European union, have been disproved by history, and his bestseller is found nowadays, if found at all, in the second hand book racks of charity shops. Going out of print is probably a better fate than being chucked off the side of a cliff, but Lindsey and the false prophet that is portrayed at the film's front have, ironically, some lot of things in common
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
... when I saw it in the cinema at the impressionable age of 12.
It has obviously dated terribly. I was relieved when an alignment of planets in 1982 didn't actually trigger worldwide cataclysms, and when Greece joined the EC in 1981 giving the "beast" 10 heads (now 27). Well actually I wasn't, having long forgotten this rubbish. The millennium came and went without a fuss, much like this movie's predictions.
I thought of this movie after all these years while reading Tom Holland's excellent "Millennium", about economic, political and religious upheaval around the end of the first millennium. Hal Lindsey has had many kindred spirits over the last two thousand years, all announcing the imminent end of the world.
If I'm ever incapacitated for any length of time I might watch this again for a giggle.
I was a theatre manager when this tripe was released and audiences
laughed out loud at the absurd theories and assumptions.
Along with it's equally funny partner CHARIOTS OF THE GODS?, LATE GREAT asks ridiculous questions and then presents lame answers.
This movie could have become a cult film had the "take the money and run" type distribution failed. It is that silly.
A relative of the old sex education sensational films that promised everything, both LATE GREAT and CHARIOTS had massive TV campaigns and suckered large crowds for a week or two, then disappeared taking all the prints on to the next town.
Was Satan's ambassador to earth really Gerald Ford? Probably not. Are we really nearing the end of civilisation? No, movies like this one stopped being made. Does the bible predict the future? No, that would be STAR TREK. The bible is about the past.
"The Late Great Planet Earth" is narrated by the late great Orson
Welles. The film is a pseudo-documentary that purports to portray the
events which lead to the rapture, as described in the book of
Revelations, according to the deluded minds of evangelical Christian
(kooks),Hal Lindsey and CC Carlson- who wrote a book of the same name.
The film blends documentary and stock footage, with interviews and fictional (well...biblical) re-enactments. The purpose of this loony Christian propaganda piece is basically to argue that the "prophecies" contained in the book of Revelations- discussing the lead up to the rapture- were being fulfilled by world events in the late 1970s.
The collection of people who participated in this film are, to say the least, odd- from Welles, to Noble Prize winners, to Physicists- a seriously weird array of characters, which might lead you to believe the whole project was actually undertaken as a joke. Cause if they were serious?...that's pretty sad.
5 out of 10.
The simplest way to tell if you'll enjoy this movie is to read the
other reviews here and see the type of person drawn to comment on it.
That is if you can actually interpret(and stomach) the ramblings.
In reality, it sums up nicely the 'Age Of Aquarius' paranoia so rampant in the '70s, a decade where lifelong borderline personality disorders could be mistaken for immediate divine insight. And its this very outlook which dates it so badly.
If you keep an open mind, it can be amusing in a certain way. I saw it, for instance, shortly before the 1st Gulf War, and wondered how many people watching it on late night cable TV believed they had found the reason for, and ultimate outcome of, the approaching conflict.
But reality prevailed-it has a nasty habit of doing that..
Definitive proof that people will take meaning from just about anything. Even worse, proof that poor Orson sadly outlived his talent, reduced to shoddy documentaries like this to keep him in cigars.
Kane would Weep!
I remember that this crap was released on video in 1984 in my country with the tagline "Don't make plans for 1985 until you have seen...". Well, 17 years have gone since that time and the world is still here. This "documentary" is, beside from being based on some prophecies, also very boring and and poorly made. I can't understand why someone bothered to released this on DVD. I give it 2 out of 10. (avoid)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
THE LATE GREAT PLANET EARTH is a attempt by a fundamentalist evangelist who had the best of intentions, to explain away a book of the Bible that was meant to be symbolic.....not literal! The Book Of Revelation uses symbolism to capture the drama before Christ's return. The problem with the book and the film that was based on it is that it is complete rubbish. Lindsey comes from a theological train of thought known as FUTURISM. In this theological dogma Christians are "raptured" out of the world prior to the reign of the AntiChrist. When I was younger I used to believe this, I don't anymore. Contrary to what you see in this film, The Mark Of The Beast won't be a biochip implant and there won't be a SUPERCOMPUTER IN BELGIUM controlling anything and everything on the Earth. Granted, i'm sure there are some on this planet that would love a system like that....however, NO ONE IS GOING TO TAKE A MICROCHIP IN THEIR RIGHT HAND OR FOREHEAD.....I mean what a load of bulls##t! The Mark Of The Beast is symbolic of our deeds and actions and who our ultimate loyalty is with....God or the devil. The problem with this project is that it takes a simplistic "JOHN BIRCH" style view of a book of the bible and focuses JUST on that book. Forget jesus message of love or any of the good stuff...they had to focus on the bad. Mr. Lindsey has set numerous rapture dates over the years and has been well er, WRONG every single time. Lindsey has been called "the jeremiah of his age"......jeremiah my ass! This guy is a dolt! There is not going to be a nuclear apocalypse in the middle east...Israel is symbolic of the people of God.....not the modern day jewish nation! Believe what you must but look between the lines. Films like this one have been the rallying cry of ultra extremist groups here in the USA. I'd say these films. made with the best of intentions, have caused more harm than good. The military conflict described in Revelation is symbolic...I say again symbolic. There will be no rivers of blood or any of that imagery...that's just it....IT'S IMAGERY! It's not literal. In the end a person can only look into things for themselves, theology is something that interests me, so I dug and looked. This film is a load of crap. If you are looking for the truth, you are looking in the wrong place. Some theologians field one of many alternative views that makes a compelling argument that many of the events in revelation have already happend during roman times......something to think about. Don't dig that fallout shelter just yet! When you consider this film consider this.......walk up to a complete stranger on the street someday and ask them if they'd ever take a biochip implant in their body.....despite a odd "you're crazy look" you'll get a resounding NO. No one would ever go for a system like that. When fear tactics are used to spread a religious dogma ask yourself whose purpose it serves...."God hath not given a spirit of fear"....something to consider!
The book on which this film is based is a fine COLD WAR era interpretation of revelation. Written in a era when NATO and the WARSAW PACT treaty nations trembled at the prospect of conventional and nuclear conflict; now that the mind numbing smog of hatred and fear is being blown out, this film needs to be re-written. Lindsey's approach caters to the right wing heavily. Many people have flocked to go see this film or read the accompanying book;or both! This film and films like them are from dime a dozen fear merchants who prey on the minds of the peaceful with a dogma of troop deployments to har meggido, marks on right hands or foreheads,and the U.S. government turning evil. The problem with this film is it is dated badly. Lindsy has since moved away from doing videos and has turned to a weekly current events right wing TV show on TBN. If the U.S. government wanted to do some good why not produce films like this one to offset the work of the fear feeding vampires in the Christian media world.
They may call this a documentary but what I call it is something Hal
dreamed up and decided to write down as a book about the future. What
it funny is how he is using the Bible as prophecy about nowadays. To me it
sounds crazy to be using a book that was written 1,900 years ago to
today's events. It's like someone in the year 2860 using Karl Marx's
theories to explain current events that are going on.
Seriously I do not doubt the world is coming to an end but it certainly won't be in the near future. Besides, Jesus implied to his disciples that world would end when some of them were still alive. That didn't happen, did it?
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