War in Apocalyptic Fiction

A scar of bright light hangs in the bat-black sky. Incessant gunshots and missiles fill the horizon.The septic smell of death looms over the battlefield. The cries of women and children can be heard echoing across the war-torn land. War has ravaged their once-peaceful homeland and all that remains now is a dystopian wasteland. As bodies litter the ground, the widespread destruction brings with it a sinister sense of pain and suffering.

War is a fundamental but harsh phenomenon in human history, having been a recurring event in granting shifts of global power in civilisation. In this issue, we conceive of it to be an event that  transcends into the apocalypse, one that sustains in various circumstances against other beings. Read on as we bring you on a journey through the different settings of war in an apocalypse to learn about the ideas and symbolisms of war in apocalyptic films.

War between Man and Machine

This article by Mahnveer Kaur analyses the strife by man that ensues in their fight for freedom against the onslaught of exploitative conquests by machines. In the catastrophic post-apocalyptic world of The Matrix trilogy (1999-2003) and The Terminator (1984), humans have come to live subjugated under the tyranny of the machines. These texts serve as prime objects of analysis for this issue in their framing of the post-apocalyptic world as a battlefield between the human organised resistance and the persistent oppression of the machines. Nevertheless, there is a glimmer of hope in this bleak landscape where mankind eventually attains freedom after much havoc and sacrifice.

War against Power

In the following article, Theodore Vito compares the two-part The Hunger Games: Mockingjay (2014 and 2015) and War for the Planet of the Apes (2017), discussing to what extent the combatants in the films are depicted justifiably. His discussion is inspired by the nature of asymmetrical warfare in the real world context and how the two warring belligerents may be liable to committing unjustified acts. The article serves to highlight how the films’ vary in depicting the protagonists and antagonists and draw parallels to the real world in how individuals play an instrumental role in driving war.

War on Terror

Written by Ayden Bae, this article probes into the zombie films’ portrayal of legitimate socio-political fears in American society, namely the war on terror in wake of the lingering trauma caused by the 9/11 incident. How does the fight against the zombies reflect the war on terror in today’s society? By dealing with the distinctions made in two zombie apocalyptic movies: I Am Legend and World War Z, the article aims to unpack the depiction of zombie apocalyptic movies with reference to terror and how are they different in its interpretation.

War against extraterrestrials

The final article by Leong Jun Wen explores the addition of an apocalyptic element into a war film. He discusses the differences in the portrayal of war through plot elements between a conventional war movie, Saving Private Ryan (1998) and an apocalyptic war film, Independence Day (1996). Set against the backdrop of World War II Nazi Germany, Saving Private Ryan follows a squad of soldiers as they search for a paratrooper to rescue him from behind enemy lines. Independence Day depicts America’s battle against a technologically superior alien race that invades Earth. By looking at both films in terms of their exploration of the theme of war, it offers readers a refreshing new perspective, allowing viewers to better appreciate the intricacies behind each film.


– H.G. Wells


1 thought on “War in Apocalyptic Fiction

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *