Sunday, February 16, 2014

Meteor - The Motion Picture

In the early morning hours of February 15th, 2013 a meteorite exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk with the explosive yield of thirty of the Hiroshima atomic bombs. Luckily only 1,500 people were hurt and suffered only minor injuries. Next time it happens the death toll may be colossal.

Today on Far Future Horizons we mark the first anniversary of the Chelyabinsk Event by presenting the SciFi disaster film Meteor (1979).

The title of this film is somewhat inapt. A meteorite can reach the ground and depending where it lands can wreak havoc. Meteors burn up in the upper atmosphere and cause no harm. On the other hand a meteorite exploding above a major or impacting an urban area would be a major disaster to put it lightly.

This disaster scenario can no longer be treated as mere science fiction fancy. Asteroids, comets and other space debris do indeed pose a very real threat to our planet. Here is Hollywood’s solution to such a threat.

Hercules Missile Defense System ~ Humanity's Last Hope 

Meteor is a 1979 science fiction Technicolor disaster film, in which scientists detect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth and struggle with international, cold war politics in their efforts to prevent disaster. The movie starred Sean Connery and Natalie Wood.

A Large Meteorite Impacts New York City. Painting by Chesley Bonestell

It was directed by Ronald Neame and with a screenplay by Edmund H. North and Stanley Mann, "inspired" by a 1967 MIT report Project Icarus. Be sure to read the wonderful Wired article “MIT Saves the World: Project Icarus (1967)" By David S. F. Portree. The full report is also available from Amazon Books. 

The movie  co-starred Karl Malden, Brian Keith, Martin Landau, Trevor Howard, Joseph Campanella, Richard Dysart and Henry Fonda.

After a collision between a comet and an asteroid named Orpheus, a five-mile-wide chunk of Orpheus is set on a collision course with Earth, with devastating results expected on impact. While the United States government and military engage in political maneuvering, other smaller and faster moving fragments rain down on Earth. The United States has a secret orbiting nuclear missile platform satellite named Hercules, which was thought of by Dr. Paul Bradley (Sean Connery) of the U.S. It was intended for defense against a massive space rock, but instead, it was demoted to an orbiting super weapon, its missiles now aimed at Russia. However, its fourteen nuclear missile armament is not enough to stop the meteor.

The U.S. government discovers the existence of another weapon satellite constructed by the Soviet Union. The President (Henry Fonda) goes on national television and reveals the existence of Hercules, explaining it as a foresighted project to meet the threat that Orpheus represents. He also offers the Soviets a chance to save face and join in by saying they had the same foresight and have their own satellite weapon. Bradley requests a scientist named Dr. Alexei Dubov (Brian Keith) to help him plan a counter-effort against Orpheus.

 Meteor (1979) is also available on DVD from Amazon Books.

Meteor (1979)
Copyright Disclaimer
Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for "fair use" for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.

No comments:

Post a Comment