Friday, January 2, 2009

The Heat Is On: The Day The Earth Caught Fire(1961)

I have always been a great fan of disaster movies and I have a great many of them on DVD. A few years ago I picked up one on disc I had not seen since I was a kid. I'm referring to The Day The Earth Caught Fire, theatrically released in 1961 by British Lions Films-Pax Films and directed by Val Guest.

The film's story: Simultaneous detonations of powerful nuclear bombs by both the United States and the Soviet Union result in gradual, and bizarre, weather changes all over the globe. Eventually the dreadful reason for these weather effects is revealed: the detonations have knocked the Earth off it's axis, and to make matters even worse, have caused the Earth to begin moving, in a collision course, with the sun. Across the planet the heat intensifies, resulting in massive blazes, withering heatwaves, and the accompanying widespread panic, chaos, and sense of humanity's impending doom. The world's leading scientists devise a plan: one final, enormous detonation, that may save humanity by re-setting the Earth's axis... or hasten the world's destruction. (no other spoilers)

Observations: I have always been impressed by this film, both the suspense and feeling of dread that it effectively evokes, the story told through the eyes of a reporter employed by the London Daily Express. The ending is, like the movie itself, thought-provoking...and kind of enigmatic at the same time. The DVD of this movie, distributed by Anchor Bay Entertainment, is stellar. The film is presented in widescreen(2:35.1), includes an audio commentary with director Val Guest(The Quatermass Xperiment-1956). a theatrical trailer, TV spot, still gallery, and director biography. This movie won for "Best Screenplay"(British Academy Award) in 1961.

The Day The Earth Caught Fire is a science fiction classic and one of the best "end-of-the-world" films ever made.

The trailer for the film: