In the aftermath of a nuclear war, the last survivors are jammed together under one giant concrete dome, which is protecting the remnants of human civilization from the deadly atomic winter. As resources grow scarce people become more and more rampant, eagerly awaiting the arrival of a fabled Ark which is supposed to save them all. Amidst this mess we find Soft, whose job is to check the structural stability of their shelter. When he discovers that the dome is close to collapsing, he plunges himself into the pandemonium of the last human civilization in order to find out more about this mythical Ark.
I was able to watch a subtitled version of 'O-Bi O-Ba - The End of Civilization' at a festival, which had a segment dedicated to Eastern European sci-fi flicks. I didn't know what to expect - none of the actors rang any bells, neither did the director. Boy, was I in for a surprise! The acting is very solid throughout the movie, I especially liked the laconic fatalism of Soft's boss (Marek Walczewski) and the performances of Jan Nowicki as the Engineer, and of Soft himself (Jerzy Stuhr) who acts as our guide into the depth of the dome, and does a wonderful job of trying to keep calm and rationalize his way out of certain doom.
What struck me most, though, is that this movie works perfectly as an post-apocalyptic dystopia. It displays the (at times pointless) struggle of Soft against his and the others' fate, while at the same time painting a very dark and cynical portrait of human society living on borrowed time on the brink of certain oblivion. As we follow Soft into the underbelly of the dome's society, we discover its secrets layer by layer and realize how paper-thin the wall between madness and reason really is. I am not overly familiar with the circumstances in which the movie was made (it was shot when Poland was still a Socialist Republic), but the social commentary is quite clear. The movie lends itself to be read as criticism of a capitalist society, basically (and at times quite literally) devouring itself. My guess is that it works both ways and can also be applied as an attack on Socialist societal mechanisms (as the movie was shot during the last years of collapsing Polish Socialsm), but I'd venture on very thin ice if I were to substantialize this claim.
At the very least, this film revolves around the human condition and contests if the human race has grown in any way over the last centuries and millenia. Great stuff, go see it if you have the chance - especially if you're a fan of dystopian fiction!
Review by StrongKanegou from the Internet Movie Database.