Based on an adaptation of the 2020 novel of the same name – written by Rumaan Alam – the apocalyptic thriller has been a huge hit since the film dropped on the streaming service.
Starring Hollywood A-listers such as Julia Roberts, Ethan Hawke, and Mahershala Ali, Leave the World Behind follows a family whose vacation on Long Island is disrupted by strangers bearing news of a blackout.
But, as viewers continue to watch and discuss the film, many have discovered a hidden message and have been left shocked.
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An ongoing plot line throughout the film is that the apocalypse has prevented Rose from watching the final episode of Friends.
However, in the final scene, she discovers a neighbour’s bunker and finds a DVD copy of the last season of the sitcom and, as the iconic theme song begins to play, the film credits roll.
While the ambiguous ending has frustrated some viewers, others have pointed out that it highlights how we like to find comfort in entertainment and familiarity when something bad is happening around us.
One viewer pens: “[The] movie is scary with how it matches real-time. People say the ending is us, seeking comfort in TV and entertainment while the world crumbles.”
Someone else explains: “Keep us distracted by entertainment etc, then when you take away what distracts us from really understanding situations and people around us the world would more than likely crumble. And we wouldn’t know how to survive without the distractions they’ve given us.
“Something crazy happens in the world we’re all talking about it one minute then the next we move on.”
A third writes: “I took the ending as in the younger generation/kids today are only concerned with one thing.”
Another person speculates: “The title of the movie says it all. Friends was her happy place so she just turned it on and ‘left the world’, not rocket science.”
A fifth viewer adds: “People today watch reruns of their favourite shows as comfort coping mechanisms. It’s something you know and is going to always be the same while the world changes into something different.
“Friends was recorded in a much happier period of time and it was probably like having people around when everyone disappeared. So it was a small distraction from the current reality.”
Leave the World Behind is full of references and hidden messages that actually foreshadow key details of the plot – which viewers could easily miss out on if they are not paying close attention.
For example, husband and wife Clay (Hawke) and Amanda Sandford (Roberts) are seen playing the board game Jenga at the beginning of the film – which hints at the collapse of society that overshadows Leave the World Behind.
Later on, when the national emergency is broadcast on the TV, the Jenga tower collapses symbolising the danger that is about to unfold.
Another clever bit of foreshadowing is the constant appearance of deers throughout the film and the idea of them being good omens – something that is considered to be a sign of how a future event will take place.
When Amanda first comments on their appearance, Clay informs her that seeing a deer is a good omen before clarifying ‘at least according to Mesoamerican mythology’.
In Greek mythology, a deer is associated with death due to Greek leader Agamemnon killing one in sacrifice to the goddess Artemis (via Vulture), but in Kurdish culture, the deer represents bad luck as per Literary Devices.
As society continues to worsen throughout Leave the World Behind, and more deer start to appear, it is confirmed these deer are in fact not a good omen.