I love disaster flicks. Show me a movie where a chunk of humanity is catastrophically destroyed and I’m a happy camper.
Who can forget The Andromeda Strain (epidemic catastrophe). Or Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (extraterrestrial copy machines).
Armageddon, an asteroid catastrophe starring Bruce Willis as the over-protective father of Liv Tyler (who’s caught doing “the nasty” with Ben Affleck). Or OutBreak, where the dynamic duo of Dustin Hoffman and Rene Russo battle both an epidemic AND a government cover-up.
Then there’s Deep Impact (Tea Leoni, Robert Duvall, Morgan Freeman), desperately trying to keep themselves and others from getting wiped out by a comet.
Some disaster flicks I watch again and again, until I can recite the lines by heart. It doesn’t hurt if there’s one of my favorite Hollywood hunks in the flick, either.
I’d be a stand-in any day of the week for Linda Hamilton, who plays the love interest to Pierce Brosnan in Dante’s Peak (a nasty volcano eruption).
Or invite me to join the all-star cast in the world’s tallest building, The Towering Inferno. Yeah, as you can tell by the title it’s the hot spot in town. Who wouldn’t want to be rescued by Paul Newman or Steve McQueen?
Another all-star cast movie, Independence Day, has one of the best scenes Bill Pullman ever did. Will Smith and Jeff Goldlblum (who I’m totally enamored with) were off blowing up the invading alien headquarters when Pullman gave his rousing speech to the few remaining fighter pilots. What a guy.
Whether it be old flicks (1958’s The Blob – McQueen’s first leading role), or new (Contagion – 2011), I watch them all.
I’m obviously not alone in my love of disaster flicks, else there wouldn’t be so many.
One of the blogs I follow, gracerellie.wordpress.com, is written by a woman who is making a career out of writing about disasters, (the real ones, not Hollywood versions). Her blog is relatively new (meaning, active for less than 5 years), and yet, in the small amount of time she’s been blogging, she’s developed a healthy following.
Why is that? What is it about disasters that we love?
My hubby doesn’t particularly care for them. He watches them with me from time to time because he knows I love them, but he finds them too violent for his tastes. He thinks watching scads of people in dire situations, many of them dying, is looking at the negative side of life.
He says we should love people, not kill them off in movies. He wonders if the reason we watch disasters is because, deep down, we just don’t like each other.
I disagree with him on this point.
I seriously have no desire to wipe out my fellow (wo)man. Sometimes I might feel like I do, but when push comes to shove, I don’t want to see harm come to any of them. I know they’re just doing the best they can and trying to get by, just like me. We’re just people, after all.
No, I think the reason we love disaster flicks is because it helps to ease the pain of life’s “helplessness”.
Think about it.
Don’t most disaster flicks involve forces outside of our control? Don’t we all have those feelings of anger over the helplessness we feel in life? Over situations, circumstances, and other people’s actions?
In disaster flicks there’s tidal waves, earthquakes, twisters, asteroids, epidemics, alien invasions, volcanoes, climate change, fire, building collapses, etc. None of these things are in your control!
Not only that, but in disaster flicks, the main characters are usually trying to save as many other people as possible. They may not do it in the best way (for example, deciding who will and will not be in the rescue ships of 2012), but they are still trying to save each other as well as themselves.
Disaster flicks have another thing in common… they almost always end on a positive note.
New research is achieved in Twister (Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton), which allows for earlier tornado warnings for communities. Humanity – or what’s left of it – is still saved from extinction (The Terminator movies). And in Knowing, the aliens at the end are actually friendly… they save many of our children from the solar flare that destroys the rest of mankind, and re-start humanity on another planet.
Thing is… in life there is great joy… but also great difficulty. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your circumstances, at times, life will kick you upside the head and throw you in a tailspin.
The world is full of broken people.
We need to see people survive the impossible. Disaster movies give us hope. They give us heroes.
I think God understands this need to see a conquering of the uncontrollable. The bible, certainly, is full of disasters. It’s also full of God’s rescue for the afflicted. It’s the original disaster book, pre-digital. The darkness of strife and the beautiful dawn of overcoming, these are major themes in our religious beliefs.
Oh, and for the record, my all-time favorite disaster flick?
The Day After Tomorrow, a climate change disaster starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal. Except for the political references, it’s very similar to a book I’ve been a fan of for years – The Sixth Winter -written by John Gribbin and Douglas Orgill back in the early 80’s.
If you get a chance, check this book out from your local library. It’s a good ice age disaster that was written before all the political positions got involved in the science of climate change.
Just good, cold fun!
Even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You. Psalm 139:12