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Last and First Men directed by Jóhann Jóhannsson
Last and First Men directed by Jóhann Jóhannsson ©Sturla Brandth Grøvlen

Metrograph Pictures released the official trailer for Last and First Men, the feature debut and sole directorial effort of the late composer and musician Jóhann Jóhannsson and a visually arresting allegory for our times. The film will open in theaters and on digital exclusively at Metrograph on December 10.

Two billion years in the future, humanity finds itself on the verge of extinction. Almost all that remains are lone, surreal monuments—the futuristic, solemn, Brutalist stone slabs erected during the communist era in the former Yugoslav republics, arrestingly photographed in luminous 16mm black-and-white. A stunning feature debut and final cinematic testament from the late composer and musician Jóhann Jóhannsson (Sicario, Arrival, Mandy) conjures a world of surreal and phantasmagorical monuments, once intended as symbols of unity and brotherhood, now abandoned beacons beaming their message into the wilderness. Based on the cult 1930 science fiction novel by British author Olaf Stapledon, with narration by Tilda Swinton, Last and First Men is a poetic, hopeful, and tragic work: an allegory of remembrance, ideals, and the death of Utopia.

Watch the official trailer for Last and First Men.

Jóhann Jóhannsson (1969–2018) was a prolific composer who wrote music for a wide array of media including theatre, dance, television, and films. His work is stylised by its blending of classical instrumentation with electronic elements. His first solo album, Englabörn (2002, Touch), drew from a broad set of influences, ranging from Erik Satie, Bernard Herrmann, Purcell and Moondog to electronic music issued by labels such as Mille Plateaux and Mego. Another album would follow on Touch, before Jóhannsson released two orchestral albums on 4AD: Fordlândia and IBM 1401 – A User’s Manual. In 2016, Jóhann signed with Deutsche Grammophon and released his last solo record, Orphée. A great deal of Jóhannsson’s work in his last years had been closely entwined with film: in 2010 he paired up with American avant-garde filmmaker Bill Morrison on the critically acclaimed The Miners’ Hymns. He has also scored a number of films directed by Denis Villeneuve: Prisoners (2013), Sicario (2015), which earned his second Academy Award nomination for Original Score, and Arrival (2016), which earned him Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations. Jóhannsson’s other notable film credits include Panos Cosmatos’ Mandy (2018), Max Kestner’s Dreams in Copenhagen (2009), and the Academy Award-nominated score for James Marsh’s The Theory of Everything (2014), for which he also won a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score. As a filmmaker, Jóhannsson directed his debut short End of Summer in 2015, followed by a feature-length multimedia piece titled Last and First Men, which first premiered as a live performance at the Manchester International Festival in 2017. Narrated by Tilda Swinton, the project combines film and music to create a poetic meditation on memory, loss and the idea of Utopia. Last and First Men premiered at the 2020 Berlinale.

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