I accidentally realized that I posted this on MY MAIN BLOG site, instead of this blog. So, FINALLY realizing this, here’s my screening post…
The Day after Tomorrow
What makes a great film stand out above the rest is its ability to reflect the world around and to be relatable to universal times. Roland Emmerich’s The Day after Tomorrow (2004) uses the setting of New York and references the rest of the United States to allow for the viewer to place his or herself into the context of the film.
The city of New York has constantly been a setting for destruction in American films. Watchmen, I am Legend, and Independence Day are just a few examples of films that have also used this largely-populated area as a place of devastation. New York, one of the most populated and industrial cities in the present United States, has been the ideal setting for most cinematic films. James Sanders, author of Celluloid Skyline, states that New York is “where disaster is going to be the most powerful”. He also believes that the use of suburban cities in films wouldn’t have the shock-effect on the viewer as much as the most symbolic and iconic symbol of American population, New York, has.
The mise-en-scene, or what is put in front of the camera, of The Day after Tomorrow includes the city of New York that has experienced the most damaging and devastating storm since the ice age. However, the illusion of realism is faltered because of the rapid change in climate and the quickly-developing tornadoes and floods all over the world.
The main character Jack (Quaid), a climatologist, is involved in not only warning the people of the impending storm, but also treks his way to New York to rescue his trapped son Sam (Gyllenhal) and friends, who are currently taking refuge in the New York Public Library. The cut scenes between the two main story lines gives the viewer a look on not only the destruction that Sam and the refugees are experiencing in New York, but also the viewer gets to experience Jack’s journey along with the rest of the American citizens’ escapes from the storms. However, the viewer becomes most affected by the tragedy occurring in New York because director Emmerich develops characters such as the homeless man, the librarians, and the police officers from New York that the viewer becomes attached to. Most of the emotional impact of the movie is sparked from the camera pans that show the entirety of the destruction of New York, and also from the emotional attachment from the developed characters.
Although the movie The Day after Tomorrow was made in 2004, it still instills fear and curiosity in viewers just as much today as it did when the film came out. Climate change and global warming have constantly been a topic of discussion, and was even brought up in an address by president Obama on June 25th of this year. Movies such as this, which not only use realistic themes but also realistic settings such as New York will continue to make the viewer wonder if these films will ever prove to happen in real life.