Disaster Movies

Disaster Movies: The Cinema of Catastrophe

STEPHEN KEANE
Series: Short Cuts
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: 2
Pages: 144
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/kean567403
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  • Book Info
    Disaster Movies
    Book Description:

    Stephen Keane's history of the disaster genre offers a detailed analysis of films such as The Towering Inferno, Independence Day, Titanic, and The Day After Tomorrow. He looks at the ways in which disaster movies can be read in relation to both contextual considerations and the increasing commercial demands of contemporary Hollywood. In this second edition, he adds new material regarding cinematic representations of disaster in the wake of 9/11 and an analysis of disaster movies in light of recent natural disasters. Keane continually reworks this previously unexplored genre.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-85027-8
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[iv])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [v]-[viii])
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-15)

    From early biblical epics and 1950s science fiction B-movies through to more recent action/disaster/science fiction hybrids, scenes of mass destruction have proven a longstanding and pervasive feature of the cinema of spectacle. Yet in contrast to classic genres like the western and popular contemporary genres such as horror and science fiction, disaster movies have remained relatively neglected within film studies. Where disaster is merely one feature amongst many in the above films, the simple response to disaster movies is that they are entirely predicated around disaster. The initial task, therefore, lies in distinguishing films that contain elements of disaster from...

  4. 1 THE SAVAGE SEVENTIES
    (pp. 16-43)

    According to Disaster Online, a veritable ‘swarm’ of 56 disaster movies were released throughout the 1970s. There is a case to be made for the 1970s disaster cycle being split into three phases: the first, classic phase lasting from 1970–74; the years 1975–77 providing an intermittent number of popular films; and the cycle manifestly running out of ideas and momentum between 1978-80.

    Airport (1970) was the first of the disaster movie cycle of the decade and, even though its main catastrophic event (a bomber blowing a small hole in the wall of a plane) proved to be quite...

  5. 2 TRANSITIONS: ACTION AND DISASTER
    (pp. 44-62)

    Beginning in the late 1970s, the singular void left by disaster movies would be filled by a wave of ‘action-adventure’ films that went on to constitute a dominant trend in contemporary Hollywood cinema. This new wave of blockbusters provided much-needed relief from the pervasive themes of ‘disintegration and breakdown’ (Wood 1986: 27) which had progressively characterised both alternative and mainstream filmmaking from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, offering escapism in place of disaster and spectacle shot through with state-of-the-art special effects. What is particularly interesting, however, are the ways in which action-adventure films have still gone on to use...

  6. 3 THE SENSE OF AN ENDING
    (pp. 63-88)

    According to Disaster Online, 32 disaster movies were released throughout the 1980s, the most productive year being the 1970s rollover year of 1980. Surpassing even the 1970s disaster cycle, 83 disaster movies were released in the 1990s, with 21 films released in the peak year of 1998. As argued throughout this book, all disaster movies can be said to address, with varying degrees of success and sophistication, issues pertinent to the times in which they are made. This approach is, however, complicated somewhat when it comes to the 1990s disaster cycle. Simultaneously recycling 1950s and 1970s precedents, and tapping into...

  7. 4 SURVIVING DISASTER
    (pp. 89-107)

    The events of 11 September 2001 have had a seismic effect on the ways in which we might regard the status of disaster movies. This applies not only to cinematic representations of disaster following 9/11 but, as millions watched the events of the day unfold live on television, there was also a certain, chilling, retrospect; the uncanny feeling that we had seen something like this before. The defining disaster of the twenty-first century – the repercussions of which the world is still experiencing – the day itself progressed through a startling sequence of events and images. When the first plane...

  8. FILMOGRAPHY
    (pp. 108-113)
  9. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 114-121)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 122-124)