Apocalyptic Urban Future

Atomic Cities and Cinema
  • Kimmo Ahonen
  • Simo Laakkonen
  • William M. Tsutsui
Part of the Palgrave Studies in World Environmental History book series (PSWEH)


In August 1945, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki caused the death of about 200,000 people. Atomic warfare, if anything, made the warfare an urban phenomenon. The long-lasting lack of documentary footage of the atomic bombings opened the way for apocalyptic imagination. Cities were constantly attacked by radiation-born monsters, such as giant ants, as a sign of mutilated nature’s revenge. American science fiction films of the 1950s addressed contradictions of modern science by transforming the abstract scenarios of total annihilation into cinematic images of destroyed cities, hideous aliens, and post-apocalyptic survival. The “nuclear monster” movies started a completely new genre in the history of film, eco-horror, which opened the eyes of the general public to the possible futures of Western civilization.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kimmo Ahonen
    • 1
  • Simo Laakkonen
    • 2
  • William M. Tsutsui
    • 3
  1. 1.Tampere UniversityTampereFinland
  2. 2.University of TurkuTurkuFinland
  3. 3.Hendrix CollegeConwayUSA

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