There's no genre so central to our deepest fears, yet so ridiculous, as those that contemplate the End of the World. In recent years, we've had The Day After Tomorrow, Armageddon, Independence Day and, of course, Battlefield Earth.
Indeed, it is Battlefield Earth, that filmic apotheosis of L. Ron Hubbard's end-time theology as well as John Travolta's career death knell, that is probably the most direct offspring of the last period of great apocalyptic cheesiness: the 1950s. The decade of Eisenhower, the Edsel, Elvis and Emmit Till also gave us Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Planet of the Apes and the now-canonical Plan 9 from Outer Space.
This Friday, the Museum of Natural Sciences is presenting When Worlds Collide, the 1951 eschatological epic from director Rudolph Mate. The film was originally developed for Cecil B. DeMille, and it tells the story of the earthling response to the news that the planet Bellus is going to sideswipe our fair planet. In the spirit of the old Bible tales, the humans build an ark-spaceship with which to carry humans and animals away to a second, apparently more benevolent and quite possibly messianic, planet.
When Worlds Collide, which won an Oscar for best special effects, will be screened at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences on Friday, July 2, 7 p.m. The screening is preceded by blues harp player Steve Harvell at 5:30 p.m. and a film short from the A/V Geek archives. 11 W. Jones St., Raleigh. 733-7450 x379, www.naturalsciences.org. Free.