A Comet Smashes into the Earth in 1931

A French flick from 1931 called La Fin du Monde was a special effects blockbuster for its time, featuring a giant comet about to smash into the Earth, and amazing chases up and down the Eiffel Tower. So of course, an American film distributor got hold of it and decided to do the old "Raymond Burr Godzilla" hatchet job on the poor movie, editing out most of the characters and adding in a bunch of random English subtitles to "explain" the action. Plus, the Americans added a long, strange speech at the beginning from a real astronomer explaining that comets could hit the Earth, and in fact many already had. Thus the Americanized, 1934 version of "The End of the World" was born - the one you see here. This is the most action-packed part, and it's amazing how closely it resembles today's "danger from space" action sequences in movies like Deep Impact or Armageddon.


Here's our checklist for what a "danger from space" sequence always contains, and you'll notice that it's all here, back in the early 1930s, in this clip:

Race against time!
Awesome, giant landmark under seige!
Martial law!
Cool shiny thing zooming through the sky!
Yelling into a telephone!
Elevator crash!
Crowds yelling!
Birds are afraid!
More insanely bright shit in the sky!


See how the more things change, the more science fiction about comets crashing into the Earth stays the same?

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Annalee Newitz

@Evil Tortie's Mom: I don't know if it's online. I got a DVD of the American version from Sinister Cinema. [www.sinistercinema.com]