On another routine day on the job Ralph Burton, a Pennsylvania miner, finds himself trapped underground due to a cave-in. Stuck underground for a few days, Harry eventually digs his way out, only to discover that the coal mine has been completely abandoned. What initially begins an odd mystery, turns into an absolute nightmare, as Harry discovers that a nuclear holocaust has obliterated everyone on the planet. Alone for weeks, Harry begins to make a life for himself but is shocked when he discovers Sarah Crandall, whose also managed to survive. At first Sarah is reluctant to befriend Harry, due to her pre-conceived racism, but they eventually form a close friendship. Things change though with the arrival of Benson Thacker, a white man, with tension that threatens to break down all the progress made by Ralph and Sarah. Ranald MacDougall's The World, The Flesh and The Devil is film that uses the post-apocalyptic setting to explore prejudice, more specifically racism. For modern audiences of today, The World, The Flesh and The Devil is bound to feel tepidly paced. The first third of the film is spent entirely following Harry, who is all alone. We see how the loneliness begins to affect him psychologically, as he begins to form relationships with mannequins as a way to cope. One of my favorite scenes involves him playing in the street with his shadow, being so desperate to engage with anything which remotely symbolizes another human being. While the social commentary centered around equality is an important one, the film's handling of the subject matter is quite clunky. The characters feel more like Caractures than human beings at times, with the film so intent on hammering home its message. The commentary centered around humanities propensity for conflict is far stronger, and fortunately makes the film worth seeing. MacDougall's The World, The Flesh, and The Devil is a post-apocalyptic film that is far ahead of its time, featuring a great central performance by Ralph Burton.
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