This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Paddy’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Thanks to that new Jacob Geller video, I've been constantly thinking about the concept of pre-apocalyptic framing in art and, specifically, how pervasive it is across media. For as long as people have been creating art, disasters - both natural and man-made - have been influencing it, and it's more noticeable now then ever over the past 100 years; post-WW2 cinema (namely post-bombings for Japanese cinema), the Cold War era, the Vietnam War, post-9/11, climate change - it's no wonder why this framing is so common if you end up looking for it. Recently, Oppenheimer called to mind the inherent apocalyptic nature of nuclear bombs and the fear that these weapons still exist, and are still readily avaliable to be used. Even just one could decimate hundreds of thousands of lives, so it's incredibly hard not to imagine that just a few dozen could end our world as we know it. In other words, their existence inherently causes a world in which we anticpate the end - a pre-apocalypse.
It's a concept that can be applied to anything that threatens humanity's existence, really. With that in mind, it's impossible to not recognise the framing throughout the entirity of Evangelion. The world surrounding it's characters is one with the expressed intention of avoiding total annihilation, with brutalist skyscrapters that retract into the ground when a threat comes to attack and partly human mechanical beasts that were also created with the intention for them to become gods, "eternal proof" that humanity did, in fact, exist in the face of an apocalyptic event. The world is completely resigned to the fact that there will be an apocalypse one day, and it leads to an oppressive feeling throughout the entire series (rebuilds included). It also helped me grasp why this feels so incredibly overwhelming and fucking horrifying - the first 40 minutes of this is just the end of an unwinnable fight that's been fought for the past 10 hours in the series, a non-stop depiction of genocide imagery in the hallways and extreme violence being committed in general. The second half is oddly comforting in this framing; the human instrumentality project seems incredibly appealing after being forced to bear witness to some of the most extreme violence of the entire series. Of course, it's not a solution at all; it's complete peace, an escape from the chaos, at the cost of individuality. After living in fear of the apocalypse for so long, though, what happens when you have to reinhabit the world that's been irreversibly changed? How do you start to rebuild?
I'd say the ending is optomistic towards this idea - no matter the pain and suffering that it might cause, you can always advance. "The fate of destruction is also the joy of rebirth".
My brain has run out of gas but oh man I could write about this thing for hours. one of the all time great works of art, I sobbed like a baby this time around lol. this probably just reads as a ramble but whatever I'm kinda proud of myself