Wednesday, 22 October 2014
The Day the Sky Exploded (1958)
I expect a measure of misogyny from near-60 year old films, but this one turns it up to 11 when it has the hard-working female scientist overhear her male colleague make a bet he can 'warm her up', and still fall for him. Oh, and for bonus points it gives her a nervous breakdown halfway through the film when she can't take the pressure, so he gets to be a big strong shoulder for her to cry on. Ugh.
The pressure arrives from your typical end of the world crisis. A space mission goes horribly awry and accidentally sends a massive meteor in the Earth's direction. How does it do that? Science. That stuff will kill you.
We get to see the mission in question - in fact, the film spends an inordinate amount of time on it. The actor playing the astronaut on the mission acts in a very strange manner while speaking with ground control. I figured at the time this would be a plot point, but it just seems to have been an odd acting/directorial choice. Or maybe there was some exposition that got cut that put the blame for mission failure on space sickness.
Whatever the case may be, we finally get imminent doom. Everyone frets about how going out into space has caused this disaster. Oh, and also how to save the planet and so on.
Eventually finally some bright spark comes up with an innovative concept.
Brace yourselves ...
"Let's nuke it!"
Look, I know nuclear weapons were less than 15 years old when this film came out, but apparently the film-makers have never met a human being, or they'd know that "let's blow it up" is pretty much our number one response to ... well, most things, really.
So as the world is wracked with earthquakes and tidal waves from the imminent doom (DOOM!), the scientists frantically try to run the necessary calculations to target the giant rock of destruction. Calculations! Those are exciting, right? (No)
The actual impact of the missiles on the meteor is a surprisingly nice piece of low tech effects work, but it does not save the tedium and sexism that comprised most of the movie before it.