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Disaster movie


Disaster movie

Doomsday film

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A disaster movie is a film that has an impending or ongoing disaster (e.g. a major fire, earthquake, shipwreck, or an asteroid collision with Earth) as its subject. They typically feature large casts and multiple plotlines, and focus on the characters' attempts to avert, escape, or cope with the aftermath of the disaster. One major character, several minor characters, and scores of extras typically die before the story is resolved.

Disaster themes are nearly as old as film itself. One of the earliest was Fire! (1901) made by James Williamson of Brighton, England. D. W. Griffith's Intolerance (1916) has disaster elements, as do 1930s dramas such as San Francisco (earthquake) and In Old Chicago (fire). Science-fiction movies such as When Worlds Collide routinely used disasters as plot elements in the 1950s and early 1960s. The heyday of disaster movies began in 1970, however, when the success of Airport generated a flood of "all-star-cast-in-peril" stories.

Airport itself qualifies as a disaster film only in retrospect. It is closer in tone and construction to The High and the Mighty or Zero Hour! than to the full-blown disaster films that came after it. The disaster-movie cycle of the 1970s, really began with The Poseidon Adventure (ocean liner capsized by tsunami) in 1972, and continued in 1974 with similar movies such as The Towering Inferno (world's tallest building catches fire) and Earthquake (catastrophic earthquake strikes Los Angeles). The genre was beginning to burn out by the mid-1970s, when movies like The Swarm and Meteor were being produced more and more quickly, with weaker disasters (killer bees, etc.), less production effort and less impressive casts.

The disaster movie genre revived, briefly, in the mid-1990s—perhaps because new special effects techniques made more spectacular disasters possible. In 1996 Independence Day merged a science fiction alien invasion plot from the 1950s with disaster movie conventions (most notably, from Earthquake). Daylight, a movie about a collapse of the Holland Tunnel followed, and in 1997 two movies about volcanic eruptions debuted, Volcano and Dante's Peak. Also in 1997 the epic James Cameron film Titanic was released, which combined the disaster genre in the sinking of the ship and the romance genre with the relationship between the main characters. Later, spectacular products of this brief revival were a pair of extraterrestrial object impact movies Deep Impact and Armageddon, both released in the summer of 1998. The movie The Core dealt with the disasters resulting from the stalling of Earth's core.

In 2004, The Day After Tomorrow built upon fear of global warming and climate change with an unlikely (and exciting) assortment of disasters, perhaps setting a record for the most disasters in a single movie. The disasters included ranged from tornadoes and hailstorms to blizzards, storm surges, and hurricanes, and required an assortment of sophisticated computer effects.

The upcoming stop-motion-animated film Disaster! ([1], [2]) is a genre parody with a style similar to Team America (although it was in production prior to that film).

See also

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Movies, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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