Iain and Fiona, the nuclear war film set around Sheffield was called Threads. Very scary and totally believable. As was Peter Watkins' BBC TV film The War Game, made in 1965 but banned from TV screens for 20 years, though it did have a limited release in cinemas and won an academy award. By creating a dramatised documentary of the immediate results of a fictional bombing, Watkins' aim was to demonstrate that Government plans to deal with the contingency of 'limited nuclear attack' were totally inadequate, and he certainly convinced me.
One of the strangest but most effective treatments of the same theme is the animated film version of the Raymond Briggs book When the Wind Blows. It came from the same team that created the ever-popular Xmas fantasy The Snowman. The artwork is in the same homely style and it's wickedly funny in the early scenes, but the subject matter becomes increasingly horrific and the film makes its point (the very same one that Watkins made) with devastating effect.
All of which, re inadequate preparations, reminds me I still haven't had my Government booklet telling me how many tins of baked beans and tuna etc. to stockpile to see me through a terrorist attack. The Independent assured me it would arrive last week, but in view of the national scoffing which usually accompanies these well-meaning but futile attempts, they might have decided to quietly forget it.
Tins of tuna and beans, eh Monica? Inexpensive carbs and protein - runners and weight trainers love baked beans as they can pack them in for a fast, unfussy re-fuel of glycogen depleted muscles. Likewise, tuna provides a cheap source of protein and if packed in brine is low in calories. However, the tinned version is also low in the elements that are better served by other canned fish - Mackeral is a far richer source of omega-three fats. The downside is that it's more calorie-dense (which in a survival situation wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing). A good compromise, in terms of nutrients v/ fat content v/cost, is tinned salmon.
Balanced against this is the impact on world fishing stocks and substances such as mercury. Pelagic fish like tuna are a resource to be managed better than they have been to date, and farming isn't necessarily the answer. There are a few boutique canneries (yes, there is such a thing) that aren't a bad option - more expensive, but better for you both in terms of taste and in quantities of unwanted substances. Of course, if the end of the world is nigh, even your bland off the shelf budget brand is something to be grateful for. Likewise beans and legumes are great...when not packaged with high levels of sodium! When you're getting in your survival rations, nab some kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas as well...a bit of variety doesn't go astray.
Given my druthers, I like my pelagic fish either seen from 30 meters down (a big tuna or trevally chased by a gray whaler off the Blue Corner in Palau is something to behold), or served up grilled with a not overly-strong sauce and a crisp sparkly...a wahoo steak preferably, but tuna will do in a pinch!
We didn't get doomsday scenario stockpiling advice here - we got snazzy fridge magnets that have coined the popular catchphrase used in mockery: 'Be alert, not alarmed!'
I'm rather surprised that 28 Days Later didn't make the list as it was compiled by the Brits - nasty, chilling movie that gets under your skin. Suppose it's got more of a horror element, though. I suspect you're right, Fi - 'Disastrous' rather than 'Disaster' seems to be the key note here.
I hadn't realized shopping for stockpiles might involve so much, Inger. I'd better get cracking if I've got to check the sodium, fat and mercury levels, and then there's the sauce to consider ... we have also, apparently, got to have a wind-up radio and to ensure our mobiles are always fully charged, so that we can ring NHS Direct and get told to die where we are. Paul R. will be aghast at your suggestion of even more legumes for variety - he's already baulking at being holed up under the stairs with his family for days on a diet of baked beans, and as he pointed out to me, nobody has mentioned water so far. I just love the "Be alert, not alarmed" - directly descended from the Ministry of Information, WW2! Oh well, better get on with clearing out the fishing tackle, old maggot boxes and roller-blading gear from under the stairs. And why AM I under the stairs if it's an airborn attack? Why can't I be curled up on the sofa with a good book?
Oops - yes...I forgot the most important issues of all! Whether the BB's should be in BBQ or plain tomato sauce!
Shopping with me, I'm told, is no fun at all. Until we get to the Liquor section, that is.
Don't think I was born for post-apocalyptic survival. While panicking throngs around me grabbed anything off the shelves, I'd be there in the midst of them asking politely 'excuse me...can you guarantee that this tuna was caught with a long-line?' At least with all those legumes I'd have sufficiently glycogen pumped muscles to sprint away from those who didn't stockpile their Heinz and John West in preperation.
Isn't it about time someone stepped in to tell us to get back on topic? Not that I'm alarmed at the prospect...although I am alert!
Inger, get back on topic. But wait a minute, isn't that your line in the script?
On the subject of disaster movies, it's not difficult to define the conventions of the genre - a group or groups of ordinary people caught up in a series of extraordinary and horrific events on a grand scale. These need to be events which have actually happened or are at least plausible. I figure that rules out aliens, zombies, triffids, and Plan 9 from Outer Space.
The appeal of such films lies partly in those inevitable thoughts of "How would I behave in circumstances like these?". That was my thinking when I first saw ANTR and I still haven't come up with an answer.
I think you might have to rule aliens back in, Bob, as I saw in the paper that 27% of people in the USA think they've seen one (where do they get this stuff...?) Then quite a few people believe in Baron Samedi and his zombies, a view I have some sympathy with when I survey my 9.00am class on Mondays. Triffids, yes. I don't think anyone claims to have seen one yet, ditto giant spiders etc.
Inger, speaking as someone who has a panic attack when further than 10 feet from an electric socket, I am most definitely not cut out for post-apocalypse survival. I'd simply give up these days - whilst alert, but not alarmed of course.
I heard that the only 'aliens' in The Day after Tomorrow arrive at the end, when the Mexicans have to cope with a flood of illegal immigrants from the US! I too remember those Monday mornings disaster movies in the classroom, Monica, facing up to wave after wave of people with glazed eyes who show no sign of life other than a healthy appetite.
Lol! The joy of being a mod is the constant tension between keeping it on topic and the irresistable urge to meander down digressive paths myself.
I'm usually alarmed but not alert, I'm afraid.
I agree that the appeal in these movies is largely the 'what would I do in that situation' - I think that's a large component of the continuing draw of the Titanic disaster itself as well. A lot of discussion on this and other forums centres around what we'd do if we found ourselves on the ship.
I had nightmares for years after reading just the first half of Stephen King's The Stand (and managed a mere 15 minutes or so of the flick) - dreams in which I struggled to survive in the wake of the bio-disaster. No sign of the Trashcan man...just a vastly depopulated world. I can watch straight horror flicks without a flinch, but a few minutes of 28 Days Later did my head in and gave me a beauty of a nightmare.
These lovely 'Distopia' visions of the future are compelling and niggle the subconscious, whereas the only component of the alien invasion flicks (and books) that really engage on that level are the survival scenes...a survivor stumbling along in the wreckage looking for loved ones could be the survivor of war, earthquake, fire...not necessarily an alien attack. As soon as the heroes fly their ship off into space to take the battle to the nasty-bads, I'm not relating any more. The narrator of War of the Worlds, stumbling through London in the last pages of the book singing about being the last man left alive, is something that lingers longer than any of the dialogue from Independance Day.
Monica, when the world comes crashing down around our ears, I'll be happy to hole up with you and a few like-minded individuals somewhere in a cellar until the vintage reds are exhausted!
But wait....there is more. Have you ever seen Zero Hour (1957)? It is a film about a battle shocked war veteran, haunted by the memories of a failed mission, who boards a plane in order to save his failing marriage and ends up landing the plane and winning back his wife after the crew and most of the passengers are felled by tainted fish. There is a little boy named Joey who visits the cockpit, a panicking woman, and a co-pilot who looks a lot like a well known athlete. Sound vaguely familiar?
Dr. Baird: (Geoffery Toone, 1957) Janet, your life, and the life of everyone on board this plane depends on one thing. Finding someone who can land the plane (slight pause) who didn't have fish for dinner.
Dr. Rumack: (Leslie Nielson, 1980) Elaine, your life, and the life of everyone on board this plane depends on one thing. Finding someone who can land the plane (slight pause) who didn't have fish for dinner.
Ellen: (Linda Darnell 1957.) I remember lots of things Ted. I remember how you'd hold me. How you'd love me...and after,we'd sit until the sun came up and it was like each new day was created just for us.
Elaine: (Julie Hagerty, 1980.) I remember lots of things, Ted. I remember how you'd hold me. How you'd love me. How I'd___ on your___ and ___...and after,we'd sit until the sun came up and it was like each new day was created just for us.
Yes, Airplane is an almost line-by-line remake of a meant-to-be-gripping drama from the 50s. When the Zucker Brothers were researching Kentucky Fried Movie, they inadvertantly videotaped Zero Hour off of late nite TV and, upon watching it, realised that it was funnier than 90% of intentional comedies. So, they acquired the rights to the script (by Arthur Haley!) added a few Airport 1975 references, and so was born Airplane!
One sequence from the original film that did not make the cut into the comic remake, is one of the weirdest things I've ever seen onscreen. Weirder even than anything in "I Want To Die A Woman!" After "Joey" has had his visit with the overly-friendly flight staff, the next scene we see him in has him sitting in his seat, with his head turned sideways and, I swear, the look "women who did" wore in daring 1950s movies- "I should hate myself for what I just did...(pause)...but I LOVE HIM!" Yes, that look. The man sitting next to Joey suddenly produces a hand wig, and does a vile Senor Wences act during the course of which the Hand Dummy praises Joey for his good looks and opines that he should be a movie star, and then sexually harasses the stewardess. Later, as Joey lies gagging and vomiting and soiling himself on Linda Darnell's lap, the same odd fellow rises up at his (Joey's) feet and does more of his vile act. Still later, there is a very tender moment where the demented soul surrenders his beloved hand wig to Joey to take his mind off of the fact that they are all about to splatter like ripe melons across the runway. This man is supposed to be 'endearing' but from the perspective of 2007 seems like someone who has missing teenagers cemented under his patio and buried in his crawl space. In the top five "Most Unintentionally Loathesome" screen characters of all time list.
Creepy guy aside, Zero Hour is not to be missed. Best part is, it is about to come out on DVD for the first time ever. Surely you wont be disappointed......
Jim that is too bizarre. Zero Hour? Sounds like Airplane should have been named Comedy Hour. Ha Ha! I still got it. Did it have a part where a crazy skinny guy pulled a plug out of and outlet and accidentally kill the power. ahhhhhhh it still cracks me up.