I watched The World’s End a little while ago, which reminded me that I had the soundtrack somewhere in the depths of my CD collection. (“Record collection” still sounds better, but I don’t have one of those any more.) Written by Edgar Wright, who also directed, and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, it’s basically a comedy science fiction movie centred around an epic pub crawl. But it isn’t, not really, and the clues to this are buried in the soundtrack.
I firmly believe that The World’s End is about freedom, individuality and non-conformity and how it’s absolutely fine not to be like everyone else. In fact, being like everyone else is pretty tedious. As one character describes the lack of character in the pubs they visit – “it’s been Starbucked”. And the clues in the soundtrack are the number of songs with the word “Free” in the title. There must be half a dozen.
It’s also about nostalgia and how the past isn’t always as fabulous as we remember it. Hindsight is frequently rose tinted at best, and when Gary, Oliver, Stephen, Andy and Peter try to relive the pub crawl they failed to finish as teenagers, it becomes clear that the only one really enjoying things is Gary; and it’s possible to argue that he’s the only one who has failed to change with the times. He may be physically older, but he still thinks and behaves like a reckless teenager, whereas the others have jobs, responsibilities and are far more adult. Yet when they return to Newton Haven to pick up the pub crawl, it’s clear that something else has changed in town as well…
I’m not going to give the plot away. It’s a hoot and is well worth watching, if only to sing along to some cracking old tunes. I do think it reinforces the idea that homogeneity isn’t necessarily healthy, and a little eccentricity never hurt anyone. Just remember that you can’t do what you did when you were seventeen when you’re now forty nine.