Joshua Oppenheimer is one of the most talented documentarians working in the world right now, known for his masterpieces such as The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence. Oppenheimer’s latest project is a musical about the impending apocalypse titled The End, featuring the participation of stars such as Tilda Swinton, George MacKay and Stephen Graham.
“I’ve been interested in the apocalypse for a long time I had a longing to make a film on wealth forged in mass violence, the third part of a trilogy of the Indonesian films,” Oppenheimer explained. “But I couldn’t return to Indonesia to do that. I was researching other very wealthy families, and one of them was buying a doomsday bunker that was more of a palace than a bunker. I decided to make a film about a family in a bunker 20 years after the world has ended—and to make it a musical.”
While talking about his decision to tackle the end of humanity through a musical, Oppenheimer explained that he wants to subvert the original intentions of the genre. He said: “Musicals are a uniquely American form that embodies a uniquely American cultural phenomenon of radical, groundless optimism.”
Adding, “This family, in denial about helping to bring about the end of the world, is trying to celebrate their future when there is no future. That’s just ripe for music and song and being explored in the tradition of the great American musical. The 1950s was the pinnacle of the white American empire based on greed and radical, baseless optimism. The Golden Age musicals were a singing travel guide into the empire at its height. The End is just the last stop on the tour—the bunker is all that’s left of America.”
The production process of The End is set to begin next year and it is bound to be a difficult one since the scope of the project is so ambitious. Watch the trailer for Oppenheimer’s magnum opus The Act of Killing below.