the origins of a quest for the scientifically accurate disaster movie 1

Following on from the Kora borehole and fiction, and looking back on some of the (many) half finished stories littering (both literally and figuratively) my desk, I have realized that there is a quest awaiting me that I have yet to take up.  I want to create a scientifically literate and scientifically accurate, large scale, end of the world but not quite, disaster movie.

As I’ve already noted elsewhere, I am a fan of the outrageously and grotesquely bad disaster movie, from the heartwarming and endearing Crack in the World to the spectacularly bad The Core, from the asteroid tag team of Armageddon and Deep Impact to the mutating neutrinos of The Day After Tomorrow and the Earth-crust displacement theory of 2012 and many many many more besides.  And yes, I am both happy and sad that UK Netflix does not carry Category 6: Day of Destruction, lest I become more familiar with the intricacies of its plot than I am already.

Many, though not all, of these movies share the feature that as in Exploding Sun, the Earth undergoes large scale destruction caused by the central conceit of the disaster scenario, but miraculously all seems to be fine in the end, as though the bad thing we’re just spent the past couple of hours watching hadn’t happened.

But this is something that in a 2 or 3 hour movie, I’m willing to overlook.  Yes, I do admit that I would find the mechanics and politics of salvaging a world from the brink of disaster, with the seas evaporated and the heat budget of the Earth swung massively out of anything approaching the usual, to be a fascinating topic but I suspect it’s better book than movie.

But beyond ignoring the geopolitics of disaster prevention, disaster mitigation and disaster recovery, there is the lurking and subtle issue that in many of these movies, the science underlying the disaster does not lie within the bounds of science as we currently understand it.  In fact, the science as given in these movies lies beyond the bounds of what might be considered reasonable poetic license.

Needless to say, this is not an observation that is original to me.  But it is one thing to say, the science of disaster movies is remarkably non-scientific.  But it is another thing to say, here is a spectacularly accurate portrayal of science in a disaster movie to keep the audience awake at night.   But let’s start thinking, just what might such a movie look like?

Perhaps such a movie already exists.  Perhaps such a movie is impossible, since either the scale of the disaster would be such that nothing would survive or it would make much better book than movie.  Perhaps I have just spent my time watching the wrong end of the disaster movie spectrum. Perhaps, to quote the old apocryphal referee report that no one wants to get, perhaps such a movie would fill a much needed gap in the literature.    Or perhaps there is a niche to fill here.

 

~ by Jim Anderson on 22 July 2017.

2 Responses to “the origins of a quest for the scientifically accurate disaster movie 1”

  1. Climate change? Though what we could do to save the world if we took it to the brink of that particularly destructive scenario, I really don’t know. It certainly would not be solved by one perfect lightbulb moment.

    What about the moon breaking away or being knocked out of its orbit by a colossal asteroid impact? Or mankind mining the moon to destruction? Could we break the moon into little itty bitty bits? The solution to saving the earth would therefore be to save the moon.

    Or the nuclear winter scenario if the supervolcano under Yellowstone erupts. That wouldn’t be a save th earth scenario, but a surviving the apocalypse one. Some time soon, maybe? (Soon in geological terms, anyway.)

    I’ll expect this story at next year’s Milford, shall I? Looking forward to it.

    • Climate change is one that I think is better book than movie, though I agree that there’s not a single perfect lightbulb moment solution. And yes, Yellowstone might go soon and there is a movie I saw once, whose name I unfortunately don’t remember, where they developed time travel to save people from the erupting Yellowstone. Needless to say, not a good movie. And we’ll see what we can pull together for next year 😉

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