Video essay: Annihilation – The Art of Self-Destruction

(image courtesy IMP Awards)

Every genre brings with it a set of expectations that shapes the kinds of stories it can tell and the themes it can explore, and science fiction is perhaps the best genre to openly explore fundamental ideas of existence. So in this video, we investigate how Annihilation takes biological, existential concepts and translates them into narrative elements. We explore how these are expressed in every element of the story, from the characters, to the environment, to the monsters that inhabit it. And we examine how subverting one of the fundamental elements of character creates an experience that is truly alien. (synopsis via

Annihilation is one of those movies that arrived fantastically-hyped, making it, almost immediately for me at least, an object of suspicion.

Yet for all my wariness, Annihilation proved to be something utterly amazingly original, a breathtaking exploration of a strange new life form that has taken hold on small section of Earth that has the capacity to alter life as we know it.

Indisputably alien – the film makes this clear from the get-go so we’re under no delusion that the anomaly known as “the Shimmer” is not simply something new and weird thrown up by evolution on a creative bender – contact with it brings all kinds of revelations, none of them really pleasant, for the people who venture into it such as protagonist Lena (Natalie Portman).

In his latest video essay, the always-excellent Michael Tucker of Lessons From the Screenplay dissects how the film by Alex Garland uses a variety of techniques to explore how humanity always tends toward self-destruction, and yet how even in the face of, yes, annihilation, something new, different and extraordinary can emerge.

If you love this film, and honestly you should since it’s brilliantly one-of-a-kind in a genre that is known for some fiercely-set conventions, you should watch Michael’s video (and sponsor him too via Patreon) for a rich, profound new appreciation for one of the best films of 2018.

Related Post