The League Of Gentlemen’s Apocalypse is a 2005 film, directed by Steve Bendelack, and written by Jeremy Dyson, Steve Pemberton, Reece Shearsmith, and Mart Gattiss. And the more I watch it, the more convinced I am that it’s one of the best comedy films of all time.
If you haven’t seen it, you should. And if you’ve never seen any of the League Of Gentlemen, you really should. Start with series one, and work all the way through the live shows, the movie, and Reece and Steve’s follow up series Psychoville and Inside Number 9.
Needless to say, watch it before reading on, because I am about to spoil the shit out of it.
Let’s talk about the ending. The Gents themselves are a bit coy and cagey about it on the DVD commentary, some of them not so sure what it’s meant to mean, and some of them enjoying the moment of it all being a dream, and then revealing that it’s not.
For what it’s worth, here’s how I read the ending. And it’s all to do with the beginning.
Let’s assume that Jeremy Dyson is actually in a coma, but there’s something wrong with the world (a theme echoed throughout the movie) – everyone has got tails. His sub-conscious mind is beginning to suspect that something is wrong – ie, that he is on the edge of death – and it begins an epic struggle to reconcile this.
The looming shots of the lighthouse give us this deep sense of foreboding, as does the music, and then we see ‘Jeremy’ darting through his house in a panic. He’s scared and confused, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he ends up in the attic (a metaphor for the noggin if ever there was one).
He’s not fine, in spite of what he says on the phone. (I like to think he can here his friends visiting him at this point.)
And tails are starting to poke into the world of his sub-conscience, literally in some shots.
“I just don’t think they’re ready to go yet,” he says softly, with a hint of nostalgia.
He’s not ready to let go.
And then he’s literally written out of the movie.
By his own characters.
And thus ensues an epic battle through multiple worlds and realities, in which everyone is struggling for some meaning, some reason to live and carry on with life, while all the while a looming apocalypse threatens to wipe out everything.
Only when all this is reconciled in his mind do we return to Jeremy, now clearly on life support (there’s no way he survived that fall in the beginning), smiling, content, ready to let go and escape the nightmare world which he’s been clinging to.
It’s not all a dream; it’s about a dying man in a weird hell coming to terms with it all.