What can we learn from the voice speaking to us from two billion years away? Last and First Men juxtaposes the seminal speculative science fiction story by Olaf Stapledon, a haunting musical score by the late composer and musician Jóhan Jóhannson and filmed images of futuristic, brutalist, otherworldly stone monuments erected during the communist era in the former Yugoslav republics, shot in 16mm black and white by renowned cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen (Victoria, Rams). Narrated by Tilda Swinton, the film beckons us into a world of surreal and phantasmagorical monuments where a future race of humans finds themselves on the verge of extinction, and where the monuments – once intended as symbols of Unity and Brotherhood – remain as lone, abandoned beacons beaming their message into the wilderness. Poetic, tragic and hopeful, this film represents Jóhannson's final and most personal work – an allegory of remembrance, ideals and the death of utopia.
Jóhann Jóhannsson (1969–2018) was a prolific composer, who wrote music for a wide array of media including theatre, dance, television and films. His work is stylised by its blending of classical instrumentation with electronic elements. A great deal of Jóhannsson’s work in his last years had been closely entwined with film. Beyond scoring films, Jóhannsson directed them as well: his debut short, End of Summer, arrived in 2015 and was followed up by a multimedia piece titled Last and First Men, which premiered as a live performance at the Manchester International Festival in 2017. The film premiered at the 2020 Berlinale.
Rue Ravenstein 23 1000 BRUSSELS
- Subtitles: English
(IS, 2020, 70', 16mm)