When a spaceship lands on the moon, it is hailed as a new accomplishment, before it becomes clear that a Victorian party completed the journey in 1899, leading investigators to that mission's last survivor.
Thinking this will prevent war, the US government gives an impenetrable supercomputer total control over launching nuclear missiles. But what the computer does with the power is unimaginable to its creators.
Hysterical panic has engulfed the world after the United States and the Soviet Union simultaneously detonate nuclear devices causing a change to the nutation (axis of rotation) of the Earth. Written by
At around 1:30, near the end of the movie, Bill Maguire quotes the first two lines of the 1826 poem "Casabianca" by British poet Felicia Dorothea Hemans: "The boy stood on the burning deck/Whence all but he had fled". See more »
The distance between England and Siberia is such that a seismic event in one would take several hours to be felt in the other. But when the nuclear bombs are detonated in Siberia, the shock wave hits England almost immediately after. See more »
[reading a newswire]
There's a chap in Leeds says he can extract water from the atmosphere. Oh, as you were, he's been certified.
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There are no end credits whatsoever (not even a "The End" caption); merely a fade to black. See more »
What an absolutely devastating movie! I am still completely engrossed in it, and it has been a while since I took the DVD out of the player.
Was any science fiction movie ever more ambitious than this one? The staggering opening, tinted in reddish yellow and brilliantly composed in widescreen, looks like Tarkovsky and Lars von Trier, and has the same dry wasteland quality to it. Callous and unpublicized nuclear tests by both the Soviet Union and the US have upset the environment, causing record-breaking heat waves, floods, cyclones, eclipses, and what not, and we gradually find out that Earth has tilted and is hurtling towards the Sun where, in four months' time, the universe will savor "the delightful smell of charcoaled mankind", as put by a cynical newspaperman. The largest nuclear bomb ever made will now be detonated in Siberia, and no one knows what will happen now ... The environmentalist discourse seems extremely contemporary to us today.
Now, how to make intelligent, thoughtful entertainment out of that pulp?! Leave it to writer-director Val Guest who more than rose to the task. He put a heartbroken, newly divorced and slightly alcoholized reporter in the center, working for the London Daily News. He tries, with his science editor and surrogate father, to delve into what went wrong and who is responsible, and he falls in love with a switchboard girl with a cleavage. All this to keep the movie grounded, the drama realistic. All of this naturalistic drama is cross-edited with stock newsreel footage of natural disasters, and it works. It works supremely well, and you are sucked into the action, as the end of the world approaches.
All the actors are brilliant, not least Edward Judd as the main reporter, cynical, witty, vulnerable.
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