Leave The World Behind Ending Explained
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- The five-part structure of the movie corresponds to different stages of the plot, as explained by one of the characters.
- The strange animal behavior in the movie is linked to a cyberattack and environmental disaster happening in other parts of the country.
- Rose’s desire to watch Friends is a meta-commentary on the dual use of media for both escapism and commentary – just like Leave the World Behind itself.
Warning: Contains SPOILERS for Leave the World Behind.
At the end of Leave the World Behind, New York City is being bombed, while Rose finds the Thorne’s bunker so she can watch Friends and the two families can find shelter there. Leave the World Behind is a Netflix movie written and directed by Sam Esmail based on a novel by Rumaan Alam. Leave the World Behind is a part of Netflix’s multi-picture producing deal with Barack and Michelle Obama and features performances from Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, Mahershala Ali, Kevin Bacon, and more.
Amanda Sandford (Julia Roberts) books a stay at a vacation home, but their trip had barely begun when a massive cyber attack takes out the internet and communications networks. The homeowner GH (George) Scott (Mahershala Ali) and his daughter Ruth (Myha’la) return home unexpectedly and the two families struggle to trust each other. Things get worse and worse until Clay Sandford (Ethan Hawke) and George go to his neighbor Danny (Kevin Bacon) for medical assistance, and he suggests they find the Thornes’ bunker, which Rose Sandford (Farrah Mackenzie) already found so she could watch the Friends finale.
Leave the World Behind’s Five Part Structure Explained
What do each of the subtitles mean?
Leave the World Behind is divided into five sections, each of which is denoted with a title screen. The parts are Part I: The House, Part II: The Curve, Part III: The Noise, Part IV: The Flood, and Part V: The End. The titles make sense because they all refer to the events that happen within that section, but the five-part structure has a little more meaning to the plot of the movie as well. The first two parts are sort of a prelude, but parts III, IV, and V each coincides with one of the stages of the plot GH describes to Clay at the end of Leave the World Behind while they’re sitting in GH’s car outside Danny’s house.
The plan outline includes stage 1: isolation, designed to “make the target deaf and dumb,” which clearly coincides with “the noise” from Part III. Stage 2 is synchronized chaos, which is characterized by synchronized attacks and misinformation. This corresponds to “the flood” subtitle from Part IV since that’s when they’re flooded with misinformation such as the red cards. Finally, stage 3: coup d’état, coincides with Part V: The Last One. Given the movie’s timeline and plot, Leave the World Behind could have worked with just three parts, but Part I and Part II make a lot of sense as precursors to GH’s three phases.
Why Were the Animals Acting So Weird?
Why were there flamingos in New York?
After the Sandford’s see the White Lion oil tanker wash ashore, they return back to the vacation home where Amanda and Clay see a herd of deer in the backyard. Initially Clay says seeing deer is a good omen according to Mesoamerican mythology, but obviously it’s not a good sign of things to come. The deer aren’t the only animals to appear on the property as flamingos land in the pool one night, and flocks of birds are seen flying throughout the movie. Towards the end the deer even surround Ruth and Amanda in an uncharacteristically threatening manner. The strange animal behavior isn’t completely explained, but there’s plenty of clues presented.
When Clay takes the car to go into town, he gets out to search for cell phone signal and the car radio briefly picks up a broadcast warning “we’re now getting reports that the fallout from the ongoing cyber attack has led to a catastrophic environmental disaster in the south, impacting animal migration patterns.” The exact nature of the attack isn’t clear, but the oil tanker crashing into the beach is a good clue of what’s going on in other areas of the country. Considering the closest place the flamingos could be from is Florida, oil spills in the gulf of mexico and a number of other catastrophies could push animals north to New York.
How Did Danny Know About the Attack Before it Happened?
Did Danny have advance intel, or was he just paranoid?
When Amanda first goes into town, she sees Danny (Kevin Bacon) loading up his truck with supplies, but it’s not until later she realizes he was preparing for the attack ahead of time. While George had his suspicious because of market behaviors and saw it coming because of “the curve,” in addition to weird hints dropped by his friends in high places, Danny didn’t have the same resources. Even so, he knew something was coming and made sure him home was prepared with all the supplies he’d need.
Danny says the evidence that something was going to go down was apparent because of things he saw in the newspaper, such as Russia suddenly recalling all of its diplomats, but he also confidently says it was either the Koreans or the Chineses, seemingly stereotyping based on a combination of xenophobia and information from his friend in San Diego about red pamphlets with asian looking writing on it. On one hand, Danny deserves credit for being prepared for the situation, but on the other, he could also be a paranoid prepper who was already anticipating a catastrophic event.
Leave the World Behind Ending and True Meaning Explained
Rose really just wanted to watch Friends.
The character arcs experienced by the Sandofrds and the Scotts, particularly Amanda and Ruth, provide the backbone of Leave the World Behind‘s commentary on humanity. After bickering for most of the movie, they come to agreement in their views about the human condition after Amanda says “we know we’re living a lie. An agreed-upon mass delusion to help us ignore and keep ignoring how awful we really are.” The Sandfords and the Scotts don’t trust each other and don’t want to stay in the same house until they realize they have to settle their differences because they need to cooperate to survive.
Rose’s obsession with Friends serves as a thematic backbone and meta commentary to the rest of the movie. GH and Ruth show up, Clay tells Amanda about his former student’s book is an “exploration of how media serves as both an escape and a reflection” just like how Leave the World Behind is a entertaining thriller about the collapse of society, but also reveals truths about humanity through its characters. While the world is falling apart, Rose just wants to see the Friends finale to see how it all ends. Meanwhile, Ruth says Friends was “nostalgic for a time that never existed.”
When Rose finally had enough of the chaos going on at the end of Leave the World Behind, she ran away and broke into the Thornes house to eat comfort food. She also finds their bunker and massive DVD collection including Friends. As everyone else is discovering New York City is being bombed, she’s starting the finale, “The Last One,” which inspired the Part V title, right before the credits. The audience may also watch Leave the World Behind as a sort of escapism while parts of the world burn, but, but it can serve as both an escape and a reflection, depending on how you engage with it.
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Leave The World Behind Ending Explained