The Future Happening Right Now: The Mythic Ages Genre and Cloud Atlas

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review

A genre which gained much prominence in the early days of cinema was what was broadly termed the” Mythical Ages”
genre (Sweeney 2007). What these titles would have in common was a (more or less earnest) contrasting of different
historic (and sometimes mythical or prehistoric) time periods with the present age through either parallel plots or
extended flashbacks. Notable examples include Intolerance (1916), Leaves from Satan’s Book (1919), Destiny (1921) and
Three Ages (1923).
Newer examples of this genre – most notably Cloud Atlas (2012) – represent an innovation of the genre in their renewed
focus on contrasting the present not only with different period of the past, but also with futures. Through a close formal
analysis and segmentation, the author argues how the film highly emphasizes the future – and a particularly postapocalyptic future at that- as a causal result of the present and past in its narrative construction.
The end result is that the film doesn’t merely contrast different genres and time periods – it shows their interrelatedness
and interdependency. The present, future and past cannot be meaningfully separated – and the film opts to show this by
matter-of-factly using science fiction genres to display fictional futures alongside with other, non-fantastical genres.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date5 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 5 Jan 2021
: An online film and television conference
- University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Jan 20216 Jan 2021


LocationUniversity of Hertfordshire
CountryUnited Kingdom
Internet address

ID: 249422330