New York City awaits a massive series of tidal waves which has already struck the North American west coast. As the waves strike and destroy the city, Martin is separated from his family. Seemingly the only survivor, he meets Claire, and they give one another aid and comfort during the crisis. Later, other survivors arise. As society attempts to rebuild, Martin and his wife Helen reunite. Peggy, who has shared a great deal with Martin during their time alone, informs Lois that she will not live without Martin. Written by
Ken Miller <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Back at the start of the "talkies", in 1933, RKO Studios produced this compelling vision of the Earth destroyed by natural disasters. Until recently, this was a lost film, all prints of it presumed gone. I managed to obtain a VHS copy of this, essentially, low budget production directed by Felix Feist. For cinema historians, this is highly recommended viewing; just don't expect CGI perfection, for we're talking decades before our glorious computers were invented.
The first twenty minutes are the most terrifying I can recall. For apparently no rhyme or reason, scientists discover that the Earth's weather has drastically changed: The barometers are dropping rapidly, the wind velocity is increasing, and a mysterious, unscheduled solar eclipse has occurred. Unlike most science-films, no pseudo-scientific explanations are offered. the world's officials and citizens are thoroughly baffled and horrified. To worsen the disturbing mystery, Earthquakes and tidal waves then break out, destroying and sinking most of the land on our planet, leaving the world a vast ocean with millions dead.
The spectacular sequence of the destruction of New York is spellbinding and memorable. Though the effects are naturally dated, they are nevertheless convincing and frightening. Buildings crumble, people perish and a tremendous flood buries the world's largest city (though some may not consider that to be any great tragedy). The sense of doom and dread convey an overpowering deluge. The film's title conveys a double meaning; a gigantic flood and a state of being overwhelmed. As the tag line reads, EARTH IS DOOMED! And that's no phoney promo, DELUGE lives up to its hype. A one of a kind effort and an early experiment in special-effects.
The story's opening is directed in an eerir Twilight Zone manner. Believable dialogue and an astute lack of sopomoric jargon enhance its credibility and effectiveness. A totally impossible nightmare plagues the human race, and no one knows how or why. Obviously, no solution to the bizzare occurance prevails. Reality and illusion converge with catastrophic results. Its grim, somber tone is undeniable and unrelenting. They don't make paranoia like they used to.
However, the film's main drawback is that once the devastation is over, the excruciating tension diminishes and we're left with a standard tale of a group of survivors marooned on a strip of land that still remains above water, a few miles away from where New York once was. Though not bad (remember it was still the first of its kind), it still pales considerably compared to the powerful and unforgettable opening.
If DELUGE had concentrated solely on the catastrophie, and the suspenseful events leading up to it, it could have been a great classic. As it is, it's still quite a unique effort (considering its low budget) and an interesting curio. Perhaps Irwin Allen saw this back in his childhood.
Check this out, but don't expect an Industrial Light and Magic enterprise and Harrison Ford. We're talking nearly seventy years ago. It was 'Famous Monster's' Forrest J. Ackerman who uncovered the only known existing print (way back in the eighties) dubbed in Italian and sub-titled, giving it a foreign film cinema verite appearence. Very honorable deed, Forrey, but why did you wait so long to tell us?
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