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Living the Quake (2006)
"The Great San Francisco Earthquake" (original title)

TV Movie  -   -  Drama  -  April 2006 (USA)
8.5
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 20 users  
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The Mayor of San Francisco discovers he is to be charged with corruption just hours before the city is leveled by a massive earthquake. Over the next three days he battles to save the city and restore his reputation.

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Title: Living the Quake (TV Movie 2006)

Living the Quake (TV Movie 2006) on IMDb 8.5/10

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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Mayor Schmitz
Orlando Wells ...
James Hopper
Robert Jezek ...
Arnold Genthe
...
William Stehr
...
Lucy Fisher
Eric Loren ...
J. T. Williams
...
Colonel Morris
Rob Carroll ...
Soldier (as Robert Carroll)
...
Abraham Reuf
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ray Chaaya ...
Elmer E. Enewold
Michael Cowdy ...
Surgeon
...
Baker
...
Policeman
Naomi Hill ...
Praying Victim
...
Nurse
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Storyline

The Mayor of San Francisco discovers he is to be charged with corruption just hours before the city is leveled by a massive earthquake. Over the next three days he battles to save the city and restore his reputation.

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The true story of how San Francisco was almost wiped from the map by the largest earthquake ever to hit an American city.

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Drama

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April 2006 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Living the Quake  »

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User Reviews

Neither documentary nor dramatisation are that good but the mix works well and I was interested and engaged by it
2 April 2006 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

One hundred years ago the city of San Francisco was raised to the ground by a powerful earthquake, aftershock upon aftershock and a fire that ripped through a city where 90% of buildings were made of wood. When the earthquake hit large sections of the city were destroyed, with only those areas build on rock surviving relatively unscathed. Despite being rumoured to be corrupt and facing investigation for such, Mayor Schmitz saw this as his chance to redeem himself by taking control of the disaster and reigning it in. While he took decisions beyond his authority, a journalist and a photographer chart the action.

Last year (2005) I went to San Francisco for a week and very much enjoyed a beautiful and liberal city while trying to ignore the paranoia eating at my brain that my presence alone would mean that "the big one" would hit at any moment. Following my visit I was intrigued by the history of the city and decided to watch this documentary drama about the last big earthquake in 1906. The film worried me early on though by having a deep voice-over and a constant brooding soundtrack that suggested this was going to be lacking merit and rely on a cheap TV way of building tension rather than delivering fact. However, after a bad start, the film gradually got the mix around about right – using the dramatisations to build tensions while also presenting a quite factual chronicling of events. The dramatisations are not perfect though and they are pretty hammy and not quite as good as the cold discussion of the facts using maps and computer-generated figures would have been. However like I said the film keeps enough facts and experts coming to prop up the dramatisations.

This does add a lot of value because I did find it fascinating to learn that the street my hotel was just off, was the main street where the fire of 1906 was blocked and eventually stopped. However even without this personal link to the facts I still found it deeply engaging as the narrator and the experts did a good job of delivery the facts across the whole film. It maybe doesn't allow a lot of time for the experts to really elucidate on the subject so some viewers will feel that this was very much a dramatisation with some documentary aspects rather than a documentary with dramatisations but for me it still did the job pretty well. The narration can't seem to get away from the brooding, gruff delivery that is more suitable to "When Criminals Attack" or some rubbish like that, but the nature of the material is strong enough to survive it. The experts are interesting and I wished they had given them more than sound bites. The cast are mostly so-so but I did think that Maxwell Caulfield was good as the mayor and he was supported well by the likes of MacInnes, Wells and a few others were solid enough even if, without characters, they were pretty much like TV versions of those human exhibitions you see at some museums now.

Overall though the material and the facts behind the earthquake (and the potential for more) are fascinating enough to carry this over its faults. As a dramatisation it isn't that good, although it does well to prop up the facts. Likewise as a documentary it is too eager to raise the tension rather than talking through the facts in a scientific fashion. However, despite not falling well into either camp, this is still an enjoyable and interesting mix of both genres that I found interesting and engaging.


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