Friday, 24 April 2015

Remembering film catastrophes

Perhaps you already saw this picture but we find it haunting. A volcano eruption in Chile that started a few days ago. This is the kind of picture a Catastrophe film director would love to have. Look at the lightnings and how they embrace the lava. It gives us chills. 
This reminded us of the film genre 'catastrophe'. It has been fading away in the last years (especially after box office flops such as Poseidon (2006) and more recently, Into the Storm) but by the 1970s, it was definitely easy money for the Hollywood Studios. Think about it, there are great classics: The Poseidon Adventure (1972)The Towering Inferno (1974), Earthquake (1974). The 1970s were definitely the golden age of 'catastrophe'. However, as any other movie trend like today with the superheroes, it vanished. 

What does this film genre represents to us? There could be different answers, but we definitely think that is related with the fear of human beings towards Nature. Our culture taught us that we left the savage and nomad world to build cities and great technologies. There is an underlying idea: we are separated from it. Global warming and natural habitats' destruction are a consequence of this cultural separation of Modernity vs Nature. Curiously, the 'catastrophe' film genre brings up things that we forget: Nature is powerful and affects our daily lives. It is scary because all of a sudden, this 'Modern' world does not protect us anymore against these natural events.
Are these films successful because they explore our fears? Do people find this fear exciting? Probably. However we do not see many of those films today compared to the 1970s-1980s? Did it correspond to a 'esprit d'epoque'? 

Going full now to the Cinema, the picture above reminded us of a new attempt from the Hollywood Studios in the 1990s to relaunch film catastrophes. There were two great competitions (yes, two different films talking about the same topic and having a stiff competition to release it as soon as possible). We remembered these four films with nostalgia because today, you wouldn't see a film like these ones!

                                            1997: Volcano Vs Dante's Peak
Hollywood decided to go with two films related to Volcanos! This picture from Chile reminded us of these two films. The first one is a Volcanic eruption in the middle of Los Angeles, the other one is in a small town in the mountains. If we had to choose between the two, Dante's Peak is definitely much more fun! And indeed, the winner at the box-office was Dante's Peak. It was a commercial and critical success compared to Volcano. Nevertheless, the tone of the two films is pretty hilarious: it is so 1990s! 

                                            1998: Armageddon vs Deep Impact

This was the golden year for catastrophe (if we consider Titanic as one of them). This time, it was Asteroids heading towards the Earth. Of course, the Americans (!!!) had to save the world. Both films had a massive budget for spectacular special effects and very little scientific accuracy (though we'll give credit to Deep Impact for paying a bit more attention to detail). Armageddon is a masterpiece: it is so much non-sense that it is incredible. To send oil drillers to an Asteroid in space...of course, it's pure Michael Bay!!! Armageddon was a commercial success whilst Deep Impact was a flop. Both are entertaining , even if we prefer Bruce Willis saving the world! 

Check these films and then compare with one of the newest film catastrophes ( 2012, San Andreas, Sharknado 1-2-3(?) ) and let us know what do you see! 

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