Last and First Men

A film and live score by Jóhann Jóhannsson

Thu 6 July, 2017

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MIF17 was thrilled to present the world symphonic performance premiere of Last and First Men, an extraordinary new multimedia work by Oscar-nominated Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. The event featured images, narration from Tilda Swinton and a live score performed by the BBC Philharmonic, all from the soon-to-be-released film Last and First Men.

Based on the cult novel by British science fiction writer Olaf Stapledon, the performance blurred the boundary between fiction and documentary. The work set images of a futuristic yet decaying monumental landscape, beautifully filmed in 16mm black and white in the former Yugoslav republics, against Swinton’s narration and Jóhannsson’s mesmerising orchestral soundtrack. The result was a breathtaking requiem for the final human species in civilisation, seen and heard first at MIF17.

Commissioned by Manchester International Festival, the Barbican Centre and Sydney Opera House for Vivid LIVE. Produced by Manchester International Festival and the BBC Philharmonic.



Sat 1 December, 2018 -

Barbican Centre

A breath-taking requiem for the final human species in civilisation, majestically put together over seven years by a composer who is destined for sheer greatness

Manchester Evening News

Beautifully performed by the BBC Philharmonic under Daniel Bjarnason’s direction, with the composer playing keyboards and two vocal soloists (Else Torp, Kate Macoboy) intertwining mournfully

The Times

Film and live score by Jóhann Jóhannsson

Film narrated by Tilda Swinton
Cinematography by Sturla Brandth Grøvlen
Soundtrack performed live by the BBC Philharmonic
Conducted by Daníel Bjarnason