NZIFF 2020 – Last And First Men REVIEW

July 31, 2020
Yet another still from Last And First Men


NZIFF 2020 – Last And First Men REVIEW

Director – Jóhann Jóhannsson

Starring – No one

Before his untimely death in 2018 acclaimed film composer Jóhann Jóhannsson made a movie. That rotter GARY STEEL is very unkind about it.

A still from Last And First Men

I know it’s not the done thing to speak ill of the dead, but what a dud! The late cellist and film composer Jóhann Jóhannsson obviously had ambitions to direct his only movie, but Last And First Men proves he should have stuck to what he knew best.

If your idea of a good time is watching inexorably slow camera pans in black and white over indeterminate, slightly mysterious structures/sculptures, while a painfully theatrical Tilda Swinton reads a pretentious story, then go for it.

Another still from Last And First Men

The story is adapted from a 1930s book by Olaf Stapleton and we’re told that the voice speaking is a species from millions of years into the future; one which evolved from humans after we escaped our own planet and headed out to colonise space in an effort to survive and prosper. Except the message is bad: the voice from the future is announcing that all life will soon be extinguished.

Oh, okay. That might have made a deliciously dumb sci-fi pic in the tradition of Plan 9 From Outer Space, but Jóhannsson decided instead to simply use a voiceover with visuals that are pleasant enough but hardly warrant close attention over 70 minutes. An interminable 70 minutes, I might add. I mean, I literally screamed at the screen at relief when the fucking thing finished.

Yet another still from Last And First Men

The one saving grace of Last And First Men is Jóhannsson’s music, which is fittingly dark and doomy and concentrates itself largely on the low end of the string section. Listen deeply into it and you’ll hear a echoes of Arvo Pärt’s holy minimalism and even traces of New York classical minimalism.

Perhaps Last And First Men should come with instructions to roll up a big dooby and settle down with a big bag of crisps and an ice-cream and a tub of popcorn. It might come alive with hallucinogens, but I watched it stone cold sober and it came across as the biggest load of bollocks I’ve seen in a long time.

And what about the women?


* Last And First Men is available to stream online from August 2 to August 8.

Check out Witchdoctor’s New Zealand International Film Festival reviews:

Corpus Christi

Last And First Men


The Long Walk

Paradise Drifters

Leap Of Faith: William Friedkin On The Exorcist

Coded Bias

The Kingmaker

Jesus Shows You The Way To The Highway

Bloody Nose, Empty Pockets


Kubrick By Kubrick

Sick, Sick, Sick

Steel has been penning his pungent prose for 40 years for publications too numerous to mention, most of them consigned to the annals of history. He is Witchdoctor's Editor-In-Chief/Music and Film Editor. He has strong opinions and remains unrepentant. Steel's full bio can be found here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Give a little to support Witchdoctor's quest to save high quality independent journalism. It's easy and painless! Just donate $5 or $10 to our PressPatron account by clicking on the button below.

Witchdoctor straight to your inbox every 2nd week


Advance Paris - Designed with French flair. Amplifiers, Streamers, CD players and more
Previous Story

Reality Bites – The Post-Pandemic Blues

Next Story

Samsung Q950TS 8K TV REVIEW

Latest from Film & TV

This Daddy Longlegs bites

ASHTON BROWN overcame his fear and sat through the latest horror sensation. Here are his thoughts on the film that's got everyone talking.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

ASHTON BROWN finds the latest instalment of the Mad Max franchise not quite up to scratch but still worth a look-see despite the non-appearance
Go toTop