In 1959 a troubled young schoolgirl compulsively writes down a series of numbers, which is then buried in a time capsule. 50 years later, the time capsule is dug up and the series of numbers find their way to Astrophysicist Professor John Koestler (Nicolas Cage). John believes that life is random and his explanation for why things happen the way they do is, “Shit just happens”. So it’s particularly startling for John when he starts to realise that the series of numbers includes the dates of various disasters plus the number of people who died in each disaster. How is John supposed to respond to the events that are yet to come? What happens when the numbers run out? Who are the mysterious guys who look like members of a 1980s New Romantic band who have been injected with Rutger Hauer’s DNA?
Contribution to Terror, Disaster, Cinema and Reality – A Symposium
“We live inside an enormous novel. It is now less and less necessary for the writer to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there. The writer’s task is to invent reality.”
J. G. Ballard
“Nothing is true. Everything is permitted”
After the Die Hard films, The Siege, Arlington Road, The X Files film, Swordfish and the countless other terrorist-narrative films, not to mention all the alien invasion and natural disaster films off the past few years, the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon on 11 September 2001 was a strange case of life imitating art. Like most of the world I watched the amazing live coverage of the events and muttered in bewilderment how much it looked like a film. A cinematographer friend of mine told me quite seriously that it was some of the best action photography he has ever seen. I had to agree. The montages of images that were assembled by the next day contained multiple angles, spectacular sound, brilliantly suspenseful timing and a real life spectacle that looked almost as good as anything done with models or CGIs.
Reoccurring themes in the films of the 1990s
Franklin J. Schaffner’s original 1968 film Planet Of The Apes explored many cultural concerns and social paranoia of the time. Schaffner’s film was a critique on the assumption that humanity was the most evolved life form and therefore had the right to experiment and butcher other animals at will. But there were also deeper messages and philosophies about the dangers of technology developing too rapidly, the supposedly inherent conflict between science and religion, and the suppression of knowledge to maintain social order.