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End Of An Age / Live-Action Films

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  • The downfall of New Hollywood is traced to the box-office success of Star Wars and the colossal failure of Heaven's Gate three years later.
  • In 13 Assassins, the age of samurai is drawing to a close, which is reflected in the conflicting ideas about justice among the main characters.
  • This trope is invoked by name in the Dutch film Admiral, which partially takes place at the beginning of the end of the Dutch golden age. At the funeral of Michiel de Ruyter, the eponymous admiral, one of the aristocrats mentions his death heralds the end of an age. See Real Life - Early Modern for more information.
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  • Apocalypto: The Mayan civilization is on its last legs, and the Spaniards arrive to the Americas.
  • The Artist is set during the twilight of silent films and the emergence of talkies.
  • The lightning strike to the clock tower in Back to the Future arguably represents the beginning of the eventual decline and decay of Hill Valley's town square. Or, in a broader sense, it perhaps symbolizes the end of America's 1950s post-war boom.
  • Avengers: Endgame does this for the first twenty-two films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, retroactively known as the Infinity Saga. By the end of the movie, the original six Avengers are no more. Tony and Natasha have sacrificed their lives to defeat Thanos, Clint once again retires and reunites with his restored family, Banner's arm is (possibly permanently) damaged from using the Stones, Thor leaves Earth to join the Guardians of the Galaxy on their adventures after deeming Valkyrie the ruler of New Asgard, and Steve, after going back in time to return the Stones to their original locations in history, chooses to return to 1940s to live a full life with Peggy.
    • The movie also borrows the cast signing-off motif on the end credits from Star Trek VI (see below).
  • It's largely only subtext in the film, but the novelization of Robert Zemeckis' Beowulf makes it clear that for the Norse people the dawning of the age of Christianity means the end of the age of myths and legends, something which Beowulf greatly resents.
  • Boogie Nights deals with end the close-knitted 70s, 80s porn producing subculture and the rise of the open market porn industry. Little Bill, played by William H. Macy, appears in the 70s scenes, frequently complaining about his wife. However, at a New Year's Eve party, ushering in 1980, Little Bill shoots his wife dead, says "Happy New Year" to the shocked partygoers, and then shoots himself in front of them. The scene sets the tone for the grim, uncertain 1980s after the carefree, hedonistic 1970s.
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  • Casino.
    Sam: The town will never be the same. After the Tangiers, the big corporations took it all over. Today, it looks like Disneyland. And while the kids play cardboard pirates, Mommy and Daddy drop the house payments and Junior's college money on the poker slots. In the old days, dealers knew your name, what you drank, what you played. Today, it's like checkin' into an airport. And if you order room service, you're lucky if you get it by Thursday. Today, it's all gone. You get a whale show up with four million in a suitcase, and some twenty-five-year-old hotel school kid is gonna want his Social Security Number. After the Teamsters got knocked out of the box, the corporations tore down practically every one of the old casinos. And where did the money come from to rebuild the pyramids? Junk bonds.
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  • Daughters of the Dust: Peazant family matriarch Nana fears that in leaving the island, her family will forget its Gullah roots and become assimilated.
  • Downfall is about the end of World War II for the Germans, the end of the Nazi era, and the crashing down of the fantasy world that the Nazis had constructed as the Allies move in.
  • Dragonslayer. The end of magic and dragons, and the start of Christianity.
  • Farewell My Queen: This is Versailles in 1789, so it is the very end of the Ancien Régime.
  • The Farmer Takes a Wife takes place against the backdrop of the Erie Canal losing its importance to the emerging railroads.
  • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: ruminates on the twilight of the optimism of the 1960s in America. Johnny Depp says the famous "Wave Speech in voiceover while peering out a window.
  • In The Flintstones, Mr. Slate announces the passing of the Stone Age with the invention of concrete.
  • Played in Forrest Gump. Many have interpreted Jenny's death from a disease that might be AIDS as being symbolic of the death of the 1960s/1970s counterculture in the early 1980s.
  • Freddy vs. Jason can be seen as the end of the era of classic slasher films, being the final canonical film of both the Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street franchises, the last time Robert Englund would play Freddy, and the last entry in the original crop of slasher films before the remakes began.
  • Good Bye, Lenin!: The end of East Germany and, more broadly, the end of communism in Europe.
  • The historical film Harry Tracy follows the titular Western outlaw as he has become the last of his breed and is now on the run from the rapidly-modernizing country and it's government.
  • In the last segment of How the West Was Won ("The Outlaws") there's a running theme that the days of hot-shot gunslingers and train-robbing outlaws are almost at an end, with all the most famous examples of each having died already. The big showdown between Marshal Zeb Rawlings and outlaw Charlie Grant is portrayed as one of the last of its kind as the West loses its wildness.
  • The final third of Into the Storm (2009) showcases the post-war period. It has a very melancholic feel to it, displaying the definitive end of the British Empire and the downfall of Winston Churchill and the sort of Imperialistic, larger-than life politician he represents.
  • Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom: The final remnants of Jurassic Park/World are about to be completely destroyed in a cataclysmic volcanic eruption, which will wipe out the remaining dinosaurs once and for all (we're not really told what exactly happened to the other islands). The plot revolves around the characters trying to save a small number of them from extinction and by the end InGen's monopoly on cloning technology and the dinosaurs isolation from the mainland also comes to an end.
  • The Last Days of Disco. Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • A subgenre of samurai films deals with the Meiji Restoration, a series of civil wars in 19th century Japan that saw the downfall of the samurai class and its rulers, the shogunate, as the effective rulers of Japan, in favor of the royal family retaking direct control for the first time in several hundred years. Historically it was also the Dawn of an Era, as it resulted in the abolition of Japan's traditional caste system and rapid industrialization and Westernization, which culminated in the nation becoming a superpower of East Asia from the turn of the century until her decisive defeat by the United States and its allies in World War II.
    • The Hidden Blade has the shogunate's samurai being forced to adopt Western weapons and tactics, even training to run in Western style. It's something of a deconstruction, as the film portrays samurai culture as not nearly what it's typically romanticized as: the lords and samurai are either corrupt or take Honor Before Reason to stupid extremes. Protagonist Munezo Katagiri ultimately discards samuraihood altogether to become a tradesman, which also lets him marry his lower-caste sweetheart Kie.
    • The Last Samurai is an American-made version of this, very loosely based on the Satsuma Rebellion. American Civil War and Indian Wars veteran Nathan Algren initially works for the Imperial government training their new army, but becomes enamored of the samurai traditionalists and changes sides as they make their Last Stand against the Western ways.
    • When the Last Sword Is Drawn tells the story of the Boshin War from the perspective of The Shinsengumi, chiefly Yoshimura Kanichiro and Historical Domain Character Saitou Hajime, fundamentally portraying them as noble men fighting for an ultimately losing cause because their sense of honor demands them to.
  • Nicholas and Alexandra: The film dramatizes the fall of Tsarist Russia. Count Witte describes it in such a way.
    Count Witte: None of you will be here when this war ends. Everything we fought for will be lost, everything we've loved will be broken. The victors will be as cursed as the defeated. The world will grow old, and men will wander about, lost in the ruins, and go mad. Tradition, restraint, virtue, they all go. I'm not mourning for myself, but for the people who will come after me, they will live without hope. And all they will have will be guilt, revenge, and terror. And the world will be full of fanatics and trivial fools.
  • A recurring motif in Ocean's Thirteen, various characters remark at different points at how the casinos and heists in Las Vegas have changed around them ("You're analog players in a digital world"). The changing of the times also divides the crooks of the setting between the heroic Gentlemen Thieves who abide by the codes, and the villain of the movie, who sees the modern Las Vegas as an excuse to betray it.
  • One of the themes of the first Once Upon a Time in China, lamenting the fading of Kung Fu in the face of modern weapons. Particularly exemplified by Anti-Villain Master Yen. Furthermore, the increase in westernization among Chinese people emphasized on how the characters deal and cope with it.
  • All in one film, Pacific Rim covers the end of the Kaiju-free Earth, end of the Jaeger's golden age, and lastly the end of the Kaiju era...perhaps.
  • In the Pirates of the Caribbean series, there is an ongoing theme that the end is near for the era of Wooden Ships and Iron Men - an age of freedom and adventure that has been memorialized ever since. Indeed, the series takes place vaguely in an early-to-mid 18th century setting, the very end of The Golden Age of Piracy. The seemingly unstoppable progression of sequels has rendered this theme somewhat awkward and ironic.
  • Pretty Baby depicts the end of Storyville, a Red Light District of New Orleans during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Roger & Me: The film highlights the end of company towns and the businesses that promised lifetime employment, in favor of a more globalized, greed driven world.
    Moore: [narrating] As we neared the end of the twentieth century, the rich were richer, the poor, poorer. And people everywhere now had a lot less lint, thanks to the lint rollers made in my hometown. It was truly the dawn of a new era.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country ends with the final mission of the original Enterprise and her crew. In a way, especially for fans, it was emphatically the end of an era. It also had The Federation finally make peace with their long-time arch-rivals, the Klingons, marking the end of the Cold War era in Real Life.
  • The Old Republic in the Star Wars universe, shown in its final stages of decline in the prequels. In the original film (A New Hope), Obi-Wan describes the good old days of the Jedi Knights to Luke.
  • In The Suckers, Great White Hunter Jeff delivers a speech to Barbara about with growing environmentalism and the spread of game preserves, it is big-game hunters like himself and Vandemeer who are now the endangered species. Possibly this played better with audiences in the early 70s, but to modern viewers it comes across as self-indulgent Narm.
  • Sunset is about both the end of the Old West and the end of silent movies.
  • The Hungarian film Sunshine chronicles Hungary's fall from glory, from the upbeat optimism of the Habsburg Monarchy to the bleak and fatalistic 1956 Revolution against the Soviets.
  • Targets, starring Boris Karloff in what critics widely consider his swansongnote  is about an aging horror icon who's decided to throw in the filmmaking towel as the real world becomes exposed to even larger horrors, including banal, realistic serial murders, Charles Whitman style. From its plot to its production, it symbolically ended up Passing the Torch between death of classic, theatrical "monster beyond us" horror to modern, introspective "monster within us" horror.
  • The Serbian film Underground is about the dissolution of the united Yugoslavia, which the film mourns. Many critics did not appreciate the film's romanticizing of Tito's communist regime.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit? links the construction of the Pasadena Freeway to the end of old-timey Los Angeles culture, represented by The Golden Age of Animation come to life. For anyone who knows the history of LA, that was actually somewhat Truth in Television. It's the freeway that was a major factor in the basin's development and subsequent suburban sprawl. However, the freeway was actually built seven years before the film is set, making it strange that the very idea of a "freeway" is presented as a novel concept that everyone but Judge Doom thinks Will Never Catch On. Also, living cartoons never happened.
  • The Wild Bunch is set in the Twilight of the Old West, with aging outlaws heading to Mexico and taking on One Last Job.
  • Discussed in Yamato. Kamio, being one of the surviving crewmen of the eponymous battleship, has spent the past few decades mired in Survivor Guilt, unable to move on. By recounting his tale to Makiko, he is finally able to acknowledge that the Showa period has come to an end and let go of the past.

Alternative Title(s): Film


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