On The Beach


Yesterday, I finally went at the movies to watch “[The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy][]”. It was great, fun, I had [good company][] but it also ended on a somehow sad note.

This reminded me of one book I read some time ago: On the Beach by Nevil Shute.1

Australia is one of the last places where life still exists after nuclear war starts in the Northern Hemisphere. A year on, an invisible cloak of radiation has spread almost completely around the world. Darwin is a ghost town, and radiation levels at Ayers Rock are increasing. An American nuclear-powered submarine has found its way to Australia where its captain has placed the boat under the command of the Australian Navy. Commander Dwight Towers and his Australian liaison officer are sent to the coast of North America to discover whether a stray radio signal originating from near Seattle is a sign of life.

If you read that book, you might start understand how depressed [Marvin][] in [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy][] must feel.

Anyway, “On the Beach” was one of two books my [little brother][] had read in Grammar School and which he recommended me to read as well. The other was “[Brave New World][]” by Aldous Huxley, which is also depressing but ends on a slightly better note than Shute’s work.

Far in the future, the World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone in feeling discontent. Harbouring an unnatural desire for solitude, and a perverse distaste for the pleasures of compulsory promiscuity, Bernard has an ill-defined longing to break free. A visit to one of the few remaining Savage Reservations where the old, imperfect life still continues, may be the cure for his distress – Huxley’s ingenious fantasy of the future sheds a blazing light on the present and is considered to be his most enduring masterpiece.

It took me well over 5 years until I finally managed to read both of them and I don’t remember that any other book than “On the Beach” made me feel as sad as it did, with “Brave New World” being second.

These thoughts then reminded me of my movie collection at home and the fact that for a long time, I only bought movies I thought were worth watching more than once because they were of a certain quality of plot – until I realized I didn’t watch them mostly because they were too depressing.

[On the Beach][the movie] would definitely make a good addition here and somehow, I feel an urge to re-read the book as well, but then, I just finished Trilogy of Five of the Hichhiker’s Guide – which also ends less than happy.

Which, finally, leaves me with [an answer][], but no question …

[the movie]: http://imdb.com/title/tt0053137/ “On the Beach, 1959”[Brave New World]: http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0099458160/ “Brave New World, Aldous Huxley”[The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy]: http://imdb.com/title/tt0371724/ “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, 2005”[good company]: http://ithink.ch/blog/ “Oelbaum”[Marvin]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvin_the_Paranoid_Android “Marvin the Paranoid Android”[little brother]: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shrewd/20454016/ “Little Brother”[an answer]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Answer_to_Life%2C_the_Universe%2C_and_Everything “An Answer”

  1. If you’ve never read it, I recommend you get a copy at your local bookstore or library or you go and watch [the movie][]. ↩︎


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