Why “The Last Journey of Paul W.R.” only pretends to be fiction: a dissection of the movie. “Last Journey of Paul W.R.” (2020): movie plot summary, ending explanation, similar movies.
Genre: sci-fi, drama, road movie
Year of production: 2020
Director: Romain Kiro
Actors: Yugo Becker, Paul Ami, Lia Oussadi-Leser, Jean Renault.
Slogan: “Who will stop armageddon?”
Awards and nominations: nomination for best film at the International Fantastic Film Festival of Catalonia “Sijes 2020”.
Modern masters of cinema, for various reasons, often resort to the device where one genre is skillfully disguised by another. This is the meaning of the movie “Last Journey of Paul W.R.” (“Le dernier voyage”) has little in common with the meaning that is usually invested in science fiction or post-apocalyptic pictures. Although the creation of French director Romain Chiraud was made in this way, it is actually based on art house, which allows you to freely interpret and understand in your own way an uncomplicated plot.
The plot of the movie Last Journey of Paul W.R.
The epigraph of the movie “Last Journey of Paul W.R.” is the story of the boy Paul – the future astronaut, the main character of the film. He speaks about the near future, in which people have exhausted all the Earth’s resources.
At this time, a planet called the Red Moon suddenly appears in the sky. For several years, people have been mining it for some material called lumina, which serves as a source of energy. One day, the Red Moon changes its orbit and heads straight for Earth. Only one astronaut is given to destroy the dangerous planet – and that man is the adult Paul. Shortly before the start, he, guided by his own childish voice, escapes, embarking on a journey across the desert that is the barren expanse of post-apocalyptic Earth.
Once over the wall that separates the powerful and wealthy from the mainstream population of the planet, Paul’s first order of business is to purchase a decrepit car with an anti-gravity cushion. The salesman asks why the man decided to go on the run, suggesting, “Because of a girl?”. Paul answers in the affirmative.
The hero has with him his own child’s drawing of a forest, which is his guide in his search. Although what exactly Paul is looking for, as it later becomes clear, he does not know himself.
The hero’s car breaks down – he needs to replace the lumina battery. Paul pushes the car to a store in the middle of the desert. Behind the counter is a teenage girl named Elma. She can order the battery to be delivered, but the wait will be long. However, Paul has no choice. He sees a report on TV. It says that because Paul has fled, the mission to blow up the Red Moon has been taken over by his brother Elliott, the eldest son of his father, the founder of the Space Goods Corporation named Henry. However, he fails to overcome the magnetic field.
In his dream, the hero recalls an episode from his childhood: his mother is dying, his father brings his sons to her to say goodbye. Paul runs outside, he is struck by lightning. It is likely to be the cause of the hero’s unusual ability.
Paul wakes up – his hands are shaking. His childish voice advises him not to take the medicine that helped him last time (thanks to which he managed to shoot the scout robot), because his father is wrong.
Paul is overtaken by the police in heavy armored suits, but he successfully escapes from it.
Elma, in her carriage house, develops pictures of her mother, crossing out her father’s face. This infuriates the latter, causing him to start a fire.
The capsule with Elliott falls to Earth. We see his already inhuman pupils. A voice-over reports that Elliott’s heart hasn’t beaten in hours, and the Red Moon’s magnetic field has altered his DNA. After returning to the space base, the astronaut tells his father about a childhood episode he recalled before “dying.” It was the last summer his mother was alive. Elliott then climbed the cliff every day. He thought that if he jumped, his mother would recover. One day he saw Paul on the rock. He smiled slyly, saying that he would help save his mother, and jumped into the water himself.
Elliott goes in search of his brother and gets to his whereabouts He goes into the store and asks Elma’s father about Paul. The man says he has never seen him. However, Elliott seems to look the man straight into his soul. He makes him think of the pain of his wife’s departure and the pain he is causing his daughter. Elliott says that the man has suffered enough. The latter’s thoughts seem to support this assertion. The man shoots himself in the temple. Seeing her father’s death through the window, Elma rushes away.
Elliott discovers that Paul has stolen the lumina battery that powered his automobile. Following Elma, the villain dispatches a small scout robot. The girl asks Paul to take it with him. He agrees. Together they set off on a car with the stolen battery.
Some time later, a courier arrives at the store with the luminaire battery that Paul ordered. Elliott takes it and goes in pursuit.
Another flashback from the past: Paul has a dream in which his mother tries to tell him something. It’s not the first time, so the father scolds his son, reasoning about the harm of illusions. The boy tells his brother that he is also present in his dreams, but completely different, “as if dead”. According to Paul’s description, this is the adult Elliott.
The hero and the girl reach a roadside café. From there, Paul calls his father, saying that the Red Moon should not be destroyed and his brother should not have been sent there either, because he died. Henry responds by saying that he wanted to save his wife, but she asked him not to do anything and just to have faith. In the end, she died.
The conversation is interrupted by the police appearing in the cafe. Paul is almost caught by surprise, but he is saved by Elma. The heroes escape. And in the cafe appears Elliott. He talks to the owner of the cafe, forces her to admit that her husband will not return and commit suicide.
Paul tells Elma what drives him. Since childhood, he has had visions of the future. When the Red Moon appeared and people started extracting lumina from it, he realized it was wrong, but couldn’t explain why. But later, Paul took up research and learned that this wasn’t the first time a strange planet had appeared near ours. Every time the Red Moon approached, a change occurred, after which life on Earth seemed to be reborn. Paul showed his calculations to his father and told him that the planet was best left alone. In response, Henry told his son to take the medicine.
The hero throws away the syringe of medicine. Paul talks to Elma about the Red Moon. He believes that it reacts to people’s actions and responds to evil with evil. Paul also says that the forest is the last thing left of his visions. The rest has been erased by the cure.
The heroes, while trying to get away from the pursuing Elliott, find themselves in the center of a dust storm. Thanks to the detection and destruction of a robot spy, Paul and Elma manage to escape. They end up in a movie theater building where they see a film about nature that once was on Earth. It turns out that the image of the forest from Paul’s visions exactly matches a frame from this movie.
Elliott, accompanied by the police, catches up with his brother. At his silent command, one of the squad members shoots and wounds Elma. Paul picks her up and drives away in a car. The chase is transferred already into the airspace. However, the hero crashes. Elliott catches up with him. He reminds his brother that he always spoke of the Red Moon as a mother. Only Paul can destroy her, and Henry can get him to do it. Elliott informs his brother that if he wants to save the girl, he will have to “run away forever” – commit suicide. Paul puts a gun to his temple, but still kills not himself, but Elliott.
The hero goes to the lighthouse standing nearby, by the dried-up sea, where they once lived as a family and where his mother died. Paul finds the sketchbook in which he drew his visions. Eventually the hero realizes he can no longer run away and decides to return to the space base to fly to the Red Moon. The injured Elma is nursed back to health and put back on her feet.
Finale. As they approach the Red Moon, Paul switches to manual control. He overcomes the planet’s magnetic field, but does not blow it up. Instead, Paul triggers the destruction of his own ship.
Back on Earth, Elma is leafing through a scrapbook of Paul the Kid drawings, which episodically depict everything that happened along the way. There’s even a smiley face badge that the girl gave to the astronaut when they met.
In the end, Paul’s ship explodes and it rains on Earth for the first time in years.
The meaning of the movie Last Journey of Paul W.R.
So, “The Last Journey of Paul W.R.” (translation of the original title: “The Last Journey”) is an author’s movie, which only pretends to be science fiction. Fans of the latter will be greatly disappointed, because the content of the picture is full of not only scientific, but also simply logical bloopers. The most obvious ones are: with the available not too advanced technologies, a high-speed journey (only half an hour) to the newly appeared satellite; “arbitrary decision” of this satellite to change its orbit; “manual overcoming” of its magnetic field; policemen without the slightest doubt shooting directly at the only potential savior of mankind (not to mention the fact that giving the main character this status has no explanation).
In general, the whole fantastic post-apocalyptic plot serves as a screen for the main idea. After all, the essence of the movie “Last Journey of Paul W.R.” is not in the pursuit of an outstanding astronaut, but in the family relations of the latter. The outer shell for the director obviously did not have much meaning. It was more important to convey the significance of the feeling of losing a loved one.
The red moon in the movie represents this loss for Elliott and Paul. Both are grieving for their deceased mother. However, the first, following his father’s admonition, seeks to forget about her as soon as possible so as not to feel the pain. The second is unwilling to let go of his mother. Even erasing the memory with Henry’s “cure” does not work. The feeling remains, which forces Paul to embark on a journey.
What does he gain in this journey? First, a close person – Elma, who appears in the hero’s life like an echo of a mother’s love (it is not for nothing that we were shown the episode in which the girl washes Paul’s head as if she were a mother to her child). Secondly, his visions-memories and understanding: “everything is right”. The hero even as a child knew about everything that would happen. It is important not to run away from one’s destiny, but to fulfill it.
Elliott, on the other hand, in an attempt to destroy the pain of losing his mother, loses himself. He actually dies (this is emphasized more than once in the film) and is replaced by a sinister monster in the same body. His father, however, does not notice this, for he himself has been like this for a long time.
Elliott forces others to do the same thing he himself has done. For example, Elma’s father and the owner of the roadside café, he urges them to give up the pain caused by the departure of their loved ones. When they obey, they immediately commit suicide.
The clue here is this: the pain of the loss of loved ones must be accepted, but one must not give it up. After all, the memory of all the brightest things that have been experienced is inseparable from it (not for nothing is the valuable resource of the Red Moon called “lumina” – a corruption of the Latin “lūmen”, which means “light”).
Explanation of the movie’s ending Last Journey of Paul W.R.
Why, based on the described interpretation, does accepting the pain of losing his mother also lead the protagonist to death? Here the director follows a somewhat different logic. The meaning of the ending of the movie “Last Journey of Paul W.R.” according to it is as follows: Paul’s self-sacrifice is not a trivial suicide. It is a message to mankind that one should not think only about oneself. It is necessary to take care of nature and closely monitor its “actions”. Paul knew and proved with his researches (though, of course, if you make a parsing of scientific research of a little boy, it looks like another plot gaffe): the meaning of the appearance of the Red Moon is to save the Earth. It appeared during the worst global catastrophes and was a harbinger of change for the better. It happened so this time too – it just didn’t need to get in the way.
Paul’s self-sacrifice is his end point of the journey, his destination. In fact, he has been preparing for it all his life (this is hinted at, among other things, by an episode from the hero’s childhood, where he jumps off a cliff instead of his brother).
As in almost any author’s movie, the director does not limit the audience in searching for an alternative explanation of the ending or the hidden meaning of the whole movie. So those who wish to develop the thoughts proposed by the authors of “The Last Journey of Paul W.R.” can easily do so. It is a pity that the neglect of the creators of realism or at least near-science in favor of imagery and atmospherics (after all, the beauty of retro-fantasy is conveyed in all its glory) hinders this somewhat.
- “The Last Hours” (Australia, 2013): on Earth’s last day before an impending global catastrophe, a man rescues a girl and helps her search for her father;
- “Melancholia” (Denmark, France, Sweden, Germany, 2011): atmospheric arthouse drama about the end of the world from the famous Lars von Trier;
- “The Fifth Element” (France, UK, 1997): Luc Besson’s cult sci-fi action film;
- “Léon” (France, USA, 1994): a crime drama starring Jean Reno, a movie that was clearly inspired by the writers of “The Last Day of Earth”;
- “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” (USA, 2011): a tragicomedy about the search for first love in the run-up to the impending apocalypse;
- “Last Love on Earth” (UK, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, 2010): another drama about the end of the world.