Special effects wizard Fon Davis’s short film At The End Of The World is the movie one shows people to highlight the pure artistry of motion pictures. Every second, from beginning to end, is breathtakingly beautiful. Each scene of this 12-minute short is necessary to ensure the full impact of the story is felt. In short, it is an artistic triumph on all levels, an absolute masterpiece.
At The End Of The World is set in an unspecified time in the future. Earth is suffering through a human-made apocalypse as a final world war rages on. Along the desolate streets in one particular town is a street vendor. But it is what Harry (Eric Hailey) sells that is so enticing- visions of the past world. He has a working television, and people pay him to view the various archival footage he has access to; meteor showers, animals walking around the forest, etc.
Sara (A. Leslie Kies), a caring young woman, is especially enamored with the beauty and majesty of Harry’s emperor penguin video. John (Victor Manso), a soldier, takes notice of her, and after a few days, he tells Sara an interesting penguin fact he knows. They continue to meet every day and watch the penguins. Eventually, this blossoms into something much more profound.
“…he sends Harry a large sum of money to play the penguins all day exclusively.”
But then John gets shipped out to the frontlines. However, every week he sends Harry a large sum of money to play the penguins all day exclusively. One day, Sara walks to Harry’s stand, only to see something else play across the screen. Did the unthinkable befall John? Or is there still hope for Sara to cling to?
Fernando Perez and Suzy Stein’s screenplay is a model of efficiency. Dialogue is only spoken when absolutely necessary. This ensures that when the characters do talk, the viewer takes immediate notice. They also brilliantly weave world-building directly into character moments. See, there’s a mandatory curfew in place, which is one of the reasons the lovebirds can’t do much else than watch the video of penguins. Such a small idea directly tells the audience plenty about the governing body at work, as well as presenting a minor obstacle to the characters. It’s sublimely simple and works spectacularly.