First announced back in the fall of 2021, one of our most-anticipated films in development is The End, a narrative feature from The Act of Killing and The Look of Silence director Joshua Oppenheimer. Starring Tilda Swinton and George MacKay, it’s described as a “Golden Age musical about the last human family,” and now with production getting underway in Ireland, we have more new details about the project.

“I’m the mother in basically the richest family on the planet. The father has been at the forefront of engineering the destruction of the biosphere, and they’ve lived for the last 20-something years in a bunker underneath Middle America, which is like Versailles,” Swinton told W Magazine, while also revealing at her SXSW keynote last weekend she’s headed from Austin to Dublin to begin production.

Courtesy of the production company’s site, it’s also been revealed that cinematographer Mikhail Krichman––a long-time collaborator of Andrey Zvyagintsev, having shot with Loveless, Leviathan, Elena, and The Return––is on board the project, alongside Melancholia production designer Jette Lehmann. Danish writer Rasmus Heisterberg scripted with Oppenheimer and composer Josh Schmidt (ADD1NG MACH1N3) is contributing original music. Film Updates also notes that Michael Shannon has stepped into the cast, replacing Stephen Graham.

Check out the expanded synopsis and a new visual tease below.

A wealthy family survives in a palatial bunker, two decades after the world has ended.

There is a mother, father, and their twenty-year-old son – he was born in the bunker and has never seen the outside world. There is a maid, with whom the son has his only honest relationship. There is also a doctor, a butler – and finally a young woman who, having barely survived, manages to find her way in. The film is a musical, and the title is THE END.

Before the young woman arrives, the family celebrates their survival as confirmation of their success and righteousness, but unspoken blame over leaving loved ones behind has come between the parents, hollowing out whatever intimacy they once shared. They struggle to repress the guilt they feel for this – as well as a more diffuse regret for contributing to the world’s end. (The Father was an oil tycoon.)

The music is inspired by Broadway’s Golden Age – the unearned optimism of the classic American musical embodies the bunker’s desperate delusions. In THE END, it is an optimism born of fear. They are afraid to face their guilt, and it is this fear, more than the inhospitable conditions outside, that prevents them from leaving. Were they to leave, they’d be confronted by the truth of what they did to the world – and the fate to which they abandoned their families.

There will be no Golden Age theatricality to the performances. Instead, the unvarnished realism invites the audience to identify with the characters in this intimate tragedy about guilt, denial, and unfulfilled longing. As in the director’s THE ACT OF KILLING, there is also absurdity and dark humor – and, as the son and young woman fall in love, a fragile hope.

Expect a 2024 premiere for The End.

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