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Feature: The Day After Tomorrow

Apocalypse Wow

Bleak future

In his terrifying new film, director Roland Emmerich wonders whether the Human race’s abuse of the planet has gone so far that the planet decides to fight back…

German moviemaker Roland Emmerich, responsible for the box-office sensation Independence Day and that not—quite-a-monste-hit Godzilla, was shooting in North Carolina when a series of seemingly unconnected events led him to his latest film, The Day After Tomorrow. Hurricanes that swept the area had caused Emmerich to start taking a keener than usual interest in the television weather channel. Then, when he was browsing in the hotel bookshop, he came across a book titled The Coming Global Super Storm. He soon became engrossed in the story and decided that it would make a terrific movie.

The ideal of a planet in peril was one that the director knew well, of course. He dreamed up a heroic stand against invading aliens in Independence Day and then had that big green scaly beast stomping through skyscrapers in Godzilla. But Emmerich’s decision to make a film about a world in turmoil as the weather goes crazy was only made some time after reading the book, when he came across a magazine article that asked whether the world was going to face another ice age.

So began the piecing together of The Day After Tomorrow in which Mankind faces its deadliest foe: nature itself. In the movie a climatologist, played by Dennis Quaid, warns that global warming could trigger a catastrophic shift in the planet’s climate and herald the awesome threat of an ice age. His prediction comes too late for anything to be done, however, and so snowstorms hit India, horrendous hailstorms rain on Japan and tornadoes lash LA. As freezing temperatures and floods swamp Manhattan, the scientist has to brave the storms to try to rescue his estranged son, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, who, along with a small group of survivors, is stranded in the city library.

“Basically that’s the emotional part of the movie,” says Emmerich. “There’s a man who has a difficult relationship with his son and he goes through this powerful storm just to rescue him. At the same time we see how the son, together with a small group of people, tries to survive in the New York Library. The only way they can get heat is to burn books!”

Emmerich stresses that a significant strength of The Day After Tomorrow is that all of these terrible events that take place on screen could actually happen in real life. “We did a lot of research and realized all of a sudden that as fantastic as it may sound, this is really a scenario that is possible,” said Emmerich. At the time he and producer Mark Gordon were taking a break from putting together the finishing touches to their disaster movie to talk about how fact and fiction were coming frighteningly close together.

by John Reading

Get the full interview in
Film Review (Jun)

Photo © 20th Century Fox
Feature © Visual Imagination 2004. Not for reproduction

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Film Review (Jun), see below for ordering options
Film Review (Jun)
#644, June 2004
ships from Apr 22 2004
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