(1955, Aust, 95 min, b/w) Dir Ralph Robinson. Cast Rod Taylor, Diane Cilento.
Max (Taylor) lives alone on the beach in his shack overlooking the tide. Every morning he goes out to fish for food and see what’s been tossed up by the surf. One day finds a metal pod of some kind and through the glass portal on the front he can see that there is someone inside. He drags it back up to his shack and eventually breaks it open to reveal the young woman (Cilento) inside who wakes once the seal is broken. He nurses her back to health and returns from his beachcombing one morning to find her awake and sitting up. She is Valeria Pross and as she tells it she was put into what she calls her “lifeboat” back in 1975 when the war started. Max is confused – he doesn’t know of any war. “What year is it now?” she asks him but he doesn’t know. “But how did you get here?” she tries but incurious Max just shrugs. “My parents had me,” he says, “But they’re dead now.” She convinces him to join her in setting off from the beach in search of civilisation but, as they find, the whole world has been laid to waste by the nuclear war they have survived, turning it into an unending landscape of impassive irradiated sand – sand that is slowly killing her but that Max has grown up immune to. “You mean,” says Max, sifting a handful and furrowing his brow, “You mean the whole world has been turned into one huge beach?” But of course for him there is no loss – he’s never known it any other way.