Last and First Men is Jóhann Jóhannsson’s poetic swansong. The Icelandic composer was working on the score of his magnum opus at the time of his death in February 2018, distilling and intensifying the symphonic soundworld that he had premiered at Manchester International Festival (MIF) little more than six months earlier. Jóhannsson devised the multimedia work’s visual concept, travelled to the former Yugoslavia to shoot footage of isolated locations and futuristic war memorials, then set about marrying haunting images to music. The final version of the film, which tells the story of the extinction of humanity, was completed by Norwegian cinematographer Sturla Brandth Grøvlen. It is narrated by Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton, and features performances by several of Jóhannsson’s regular musical collaborators, including members of Theatre of Voices, and the Academy Award-winning Hildur Guðnadóttir on vocals, cello and percussion.
Last and First Men received its world premiere this week on 25 February at the 2020 Berlinale Film Festival. The audio album of the original score is released digitally to streaming services today. The film will then be released on Blu-ray, packaged together with the original score recording on CD on March 27; the Blu-ray will also be released on March 27 (USA: April 10) as part of a Limited Deluxe Vinyl Art-Edition, which also comprises three art prints.