In Stapledon’s cult novel, the First Men are humans. In the twenty-first century, a war breaks out in Europe, leaving the USA and China as super-powers. In the 24th century, the USA and China go to war, culminating in the First World State. Four millenniae later, humans have depleted the planet of fossil fuel, and civilisation as we know it collapses. Later, a riot occurs at a mine resulting in a subterranean explosion, making earth uninhabitable for millions of years. Thirty-five humans at the North-Pole survive, they later split with another species, the sub-humans. The Last Men are the 18th Men, the most advanced model of humankind, mainly consisting of philosophers and artists with very liberal sexual morals. “Superficially we seem to be not one species but many”. Sub-genders exist, variants of the basic male and female patterns. The units, the equivalent of families, have the ability to act as a group mind. They do not die naturally anymore, only by accident, suicide or being killed. In spite of this all, they practice ritual cannibalism. After a supernova infects the Sun, making it expand and consume the entire solar system, Mankind cannot find a way to escape. This last species of men create a virus to spread life to other planets and cause the evolution of a new species in the galaxy. The first and last Men communicate, the latter trying to warn their predecessors and teach them survival tactics.
Johannsson was a prolific composer and clearly a decent filmmaker. Producer Thor Sigurdjonson has completed the work Johansson left behind, and the result is in many ways, a unique and passionate eulogy. AS
On demand on BFI Player on 30 July 2020 | BERLINALE FILM FESTIVAL | 2020