Luke Owen looks at the pubs in The World’s End and what their names might mean….
WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE WORLD’S END
If there is one thing that Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg do very well when writing scripts, it’s foreshadowing. They always drop in little nuggets that will either give you a clue of how the film will progress or make a joke that you’ll laugh at later on because the punchline finally arrives.
The best example of this of course is Shaun of the Dead, in which Ed tells the recently dumped Shaun exactly what they’ll do the following day – only it ends up being surviving instead of drinking. They have a “Bloody Mary” in the morning, a bite at the King (Phillip)’s Head and finally “shots at the bar” as the zombies pour in.
The World’s End has two examples of this. Gary King’s opening montage narration explaining the events of that fateful day in 1990 follows the exact same pattern when they try in 20 years later. They get into fights at the same time, get thrown out at the same points and lose their friends at the same points.
However the second example, and the one I want to look at today, are the pub names and how they relate to the plot. As soon as the movie was announced we all knew the pub names were sure to have double meanings. And while we can’t know for sure what they mean until the DVD comes out and Wright and Pegg explain in detail, we can at least speculate…
Pub 1 – The First Post
This one should be fairly easy to work out.
While of course that name refers to the fact that the pub used to be a mail service, (until a businessman felt that weary travellers might prefer to “get twatted”), the given name for The World’s End most likely means that this simply is first pub they visit on their crawl. As far as I can remember, there isn’t anything in the following conversation that would suggest otherwise. Unless there is some deeper meaning in regards to the ‘Starbucks’ treatment of small town pubs. Which leads us too…
Pub 2 – The Old Familiar
This won’t be the first pub on our list to have a double meaning in my estimations.
The name either refers to the ‘Starbucks’ treatment of local pubs, or the arrival of Oliver’s sister Sam. I lean more towards the former as Wright uses the same location, the same blocking and the same camera movements to show just how all pubs are getting the Weatherspoons make over to remove their unique and rustic charms. Everything looks and feels the same as the previous pub – hence The Old Familiar.
The second option could equally be true. The arrival of Sam brings out some old familiar feelings for Steven, who has been in love with her since they left school. The same can be said for Gary who wishes to continue their disable toilet adventures that they started back in 1990, going back to The Old Familiar. As I said, I lean towards the Starbucks argument, but the other two reasons would not surprise me.
Pub 3 – The Famous Cock
There isn’t a great deal of story being told in this pub. The only thing of note is the introduction of Crazy Basil and his wild stories of The Bermuda Triangle and underwater Nazis. However he is not The Famous Cock – Gary is.
It seems that back in 1990, Gary was thrown out of The Famous Cock for being a drunken lout and that ban is still being upheld. The boys are once again denied service because Gary King is a massive Famous Cock.
Pub 4 – The Cross Hands
Another pub that could be up for double interpretation.
The first would be that The Cross Hands is the first pub where we see our heroes actually work together as a team. Up until this point they have mostly been feeling sorry for Gary as the placate to his childish adventure, but when their backs against the wall they cross hands (if you will) to fight off the Robots That Aren’t Actually Robots (the pub sign backs up this argument).
However, the more likely scenario is that the name refers to the Robot’s method of attack – stretching their hands out to grab the victim’s faces in order to get their DNA. You could say that their “hands” are very “cross”.
Pub 5 – The Good Companions
After their initial fight with the Robots, the boys decide that the only course of action is to carry on The Golden Mile so as not to arouse suspicion that they know what is going on. To do this, they walk down the street as best friends to the sounds of The Doors, heading towards the next pub.In said pub, they all walk to the bar together, sink their pints together, finish each others sentences and stumble back out the way they came.
Just like all Good Companions do.
The pub signs also feels a lot like our heroes to right? The four sad fools following the one happy fool?
Pub 6 – The Trusty Servant
Look – another double interpretation pub!
As the boys arrive to the pub, Oliver (who back in 1990 dropped out at this point), heads off to the toiler while Gary tries to get information from The Reverend Green, a local weed dealer who they used to by drugs from back in the day. During the conversation, they semi-discuss the Robot’s intentions and how they are not slaves. However during this conversation, the Reverend gets a phone call which seems to spell out his doom. Has he now become a Trusty Servant?
It is important to note that his is where Oliver gets assimilated (for lack of a better term) and is replaced with a robot version of himself. Which could subtly suggest that in fact O-Man is the Trusty Servant that the pub is referring to, and not the Reverend.
Pub 7 – The Two Headed Dog
Quite an easy on this one.
During their time in this pub, they run into Sam again who is out with the Twins – who later reveal themselves to be the robots and therefore The Two Headed Dog.Seems a bit harsh to call them dogs though…
All happy with that one?
Pub 8 – The Mermaid
One of the more subtle pub names to work out.
The Mermaid is a nightclub in Newton Haven where the boys encounter a school themed disco, Steven learns more about how the Robots get their DNA and – more importantly – Gary, Pete and Andy get trapped by the infamous Marmalade Sandwich: two blondes and a redhead. These women, who haven’t changed since 1990 apparently, start to dance, kiss and lick our heroes with an almost hypnotic quality – not unlike the siren’s call that Mermaids used to trap pirates.
The Marmalade Sandwich are also on the pub sign too.
Pub 9 – The Beehive
Another subtle one here.
This is not only the pub in which we discover that Oliver is now ‘one of them’, but it’s also where we learn just what the Robots are trying to accomplish. Our heroes get tempted and teased into joining ‘them’ by their old school teacher, Mr. Shepard (his name also referring to how he is trying to flock them all together).
Essentially what the robots want is for everyone on the same level and work together as a cohesive unit of peace and harmony – just like the bees do in their hive. Hence the name of the pub, The Beehive.
You could also argue that the fight scene that follows sees our heroes fight off the robots as the swarm like bees, but I believe it’s the other reason.
This is the only pub on the list that I’m really not sure on. So little happens here (other than a great subtle nod to Shaun of the Dead‘s fruit machine) that it’s hard to work out what the name refers to.
Obviously, the King in the name is Gary King but what is about Gary’s head that the pub name refers to? My only guess could be that this is the pub where Gary finally loses it. The drunk adventure has finally taken over him as he desperately wants to finish The Golden Mile. So, even with certain death following him, he carries on drinking because it’s all he has left.
So, you could say that he loses his head? As in, The King’s Head?
Pub 11 – The Hole in the Wall
Aside from The Two Headed Dog and the upcoming final pub, this is one of the easier ones to figure out. Although it doesn’t become obvious until the very end of the scene.With Andy trying to chase down Gary (while fighting off the advancing Robots), Steven gets into Gary’s car in an effort to get out of Newton Haven. Sadly for him though it doesn’t quite work out as he crashes through the wall of the pub and (seemingly) get’s taken by the Robots.A car in through the wall certainly creates a hole doesn’t it?
Pub 12 – The World’s End
Now this one I really struggled with.
This is not just the pub where Gary, Andy and the not-dead Steven finally put an end to the Network’s plans to take over the world, it’s also the pub that leads to the world’s descent back into the dark ages. Quite simply put, this is where everything ends. This is The World’s End.As I said at the start of this, Wright and Pegg are very good at dropping in subtle hints when putting scripts together – and The World’s End is no different. These pub names have been given names for a reason and it’s a lot of fun to try and work out just what they mean.
So there you have it. I might be very wrong with my estimations, but it’s fun to speculate before the DVD comes out. And should I be right on some of them I can have a sense of smugness about myself for working out their little clues. Or I’ll be proven wrong and this was all a waste of time.
What do you think the pub names in The World’s End mean?