Jóhann Jóhannsson

Iceland, 2020 / 70 min / English OV with French & English subt. / Science Fiction

Double feature: The Human Voice & The First and Last Men

Two billion years ahead of us, a future race of humans finds itself on the verge of extinction.

Two billion years ahead of us, a future race of humans finds itself on the verge of extinction. Almost all that is left in the world are lone and surreal monuments, beaming their message into the wilderness. A voice from the eighteenth species, visualised as a green ray, addresses the first species, our own, and pleads with us not to repeat their mistakes.

Late, great composer Jóhann Jóhannsson was inspired for his first feature-length film when he saw images of the brutalist concrete monuments of the Tito era in Yugoslavia. An avid reader of science fiction, he created a hypnotic total work of art, a requiem for a doomed world echoing Stanley Kubrick, Béla Tarr and other avant-garde filmmakers that turns cinema into a blend of sounds and pictures, mixing the past and most distant future. Situated halfway between fiction and documentary, Last and First Men represents Jóhann Jóhannson’s final and most personal work – an allegory of remembrance, ideals and the death of utopia.


Wed 10/03 19:00 Ciné Utopia EN OV Public
Thu 11/03 10:00 EN OV with EN subt. Public

“A strange, foreboding dissection of the idea of utopia. Adapted from the 1930 ‘future history’ science-fiction novel of the same name from Olaf Stapledon, Jóhannsson takes a peculiar and abstract approach to turning prose into image. […] It feels like a dark twist on a natural history documentary, only with no nature left to behold.” Kambole Campbell, Empire, 28/07/2020

“Halfway between fiction and documentary, Last and First Men is a visionary work about the final days of humankind that stretches the audience’s ability to imagine not only an immense time frame reaching over billions of years, but huge steps in human evolution. There are no people in the film, no actors. In their place, uncommunicative monuments squat on the ground, colossi filmed from surreal angles and accompanied by Johannsson’s hypnotic orchestral soundtrack. […] Though the screenplay is based on a sci-fi classic and may well attract some genre fans, Johannsson’s beautifully written text and score, along with the stark black and gray images, earmark it as a festival and museum piece for cultured audiences like concert-goers and lovers of modern art.” Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter, 25/02/2020

“A ravishing 70-minute audiovisual essay on human mortality, extinction and legacy — all the more poignant for being its maker’s final creative statement.”Guy Lodge, Variety, 07/03/2020

“A 70-minute cine-novella or essay film: a meditation on humanity’s future and what it means, or will mean, to be post-human.” Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian, 29/07/2020

“Prodigiously talented composer Jóhann Jóhannsson makes his posthumous directorial debut with an austere, hauntingly gorgeous sci-fi symphony voiced by Tilda Swinton and laced with sadness, wonder and hope.” New Zealand International Film Festival 2020

  • FIPRESCI Prize, Festival du nouveau cinéma de Montréal, 2020 (Canada)
Cast & Credits
Tilda Swinton
Jóhann Jóhannsson, José Enrique Macián, based on the novel “Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future” by Olaf Stapledon
Sturla Brandth Grøvlen
Peter Albrechtsen, Jana Irmert
Jóhann Jóhannsson, Yair Elazar Glotman
Zik Zak Filmworks
Films Boutique

Jóhann Jóhannsson was an Icelandic composer born in 1969 in Reykjavik. In 1999 he founded the music group Apparat Organ Quartet. He wrote and produced titles for other artists, for theatre, television and film. He composed numerous soundtracks, most prominently for several of Denis Villeneuve’s films, blending elements of electronic and classical music. In 2015, he won the Golden Globe for Best Soundtrack for The Theory of Everything (2014), which, as well as his score for Sicario (2015), was nominated for an Oscar. Last and First Men (2020) is his first and only feature film as a director. The film posthumously premiered at the Berlinale in 2020, two years after his premature death.

  • 2020 – Last and First Men
  • 2014 – End of Summer (documentary short)