Tag Archives: Week 4

New York: We’re a Great Big Part of It!

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.




A New Ice Age?

The movie The Day After Tomorrow shows us what can happen when extreme climate changes occur to the earth. The very beginning of the movie begins with an aerial shot of what appears of be the ocean and ice. The viewer of the movie is looking down into the water and ice while the opening credits are displayed parallel to the water. The shot gradually turns upwards in order for the viewer to see the glaciers coming up from the water. The opening credits change with the crane shot as well, with the credits now being vertical to match the new camera angle. From the very opening scene, the viewer gets the idea that the movie will have something to do with the ice and/or the ocean.

After the opening credits, the movie changes to a scene with one of the main characters, Jack, and his partners Frank and Jason in Antarctica. While collecting data, there is a giant shelf of ice that breaks off from where the men are working. The viewer sees cracks occurring, but Jason is the first to actually hear the cracked ice. The camera shows a close up of his face as he stops to listen to the sound of breaking ice and then zooms out to show the ice breaking all around him. While Jack tries to save some of their data he falls into the cracked portion of the ice and Jason and Frank have to save him. After collecting this data Jack then gives a speech in New Delhi, India on climate change that may occur from a change in the Atlantic current due to ocean global warming. Global warming is causing the fresh water glaciers to melt into the Atlantic Ocean, which is leading to a critical desalination point. His message is ignored for the most part until bizarre weather starts taking place all over the world. The movie shows several different scenes depicting the climate changes, such as the falling of snow in New Delhi, giant ice chunks hailing down in Tokyo, multiple tornados destroying large portions Las Angeles (including the famous Hollywood sign), and airplanes being brought down by turbulence in the Midwest part of the United States.

As Jack and other fellow scientists do more research, they come to the realization that the cold temperatures from the Antarctic are moving towards civilization and are combining with cool air from the troposphere, which is descending too quickly to warm, thus creating several global storms. These storms appear to be similar looking to hurricanes, except all over landmasses. The movie repeatedly shows the earth from the view of astronauts in space as the storm covers more and more of the earth, eventually making all landmasses invisible. The rest of the movie portrays the tale of survival for Jack and his family, along with the rest of the world. In a scene where the southern half of the United States is evacuated to Mexico, another aerial shot shows U.S. citizens illegally crossing the river into Mexico after the border is closed. People are desperate to survive and this is shown to great detail. There are even small amounts of a love story thrown into the mix, which pulls the viewer into other aspects of the movie besides the terrible destruction and deaths of many, many people.

In the end, the storm gradually starts to clear up and the astronauts are able to start seeing land again. Jack is able to save his son Sam who was trapped in New York and many other survivors are found. The movie ends with a final scene of the earth, as the astronauts say they have never seen air quite so clear. The sound track played at the opening scene is then replayed at the end, wrapping the movie up.

Although the movie may be a bit dramatic in how global warming may change the climate of our earth, it does teach a good lessen. We need to watch what we do with our resources and control how we use them. Things such as a new ice age occurring from our use of greenhouse gases may seem far-fetched, but over a larger time span (maybe not quite as short as 7-10 days) something similar to this could happen.


Techno-optimists vs Techno-skeptics

I was reading chapter 5 of Hull’s book about techno-optimists believing that precautionary principles are unnecessary when it comes to new technology and I must say I disagree. I definitely think precautions should be taken before new technology is used commonly. Technology should be thoroughly researched and analyzed to make sure it does not do harm to the environment. That being said, I am not quite a techno-skeptic, since I do believe technology in the future can replace certain resources that we need now, which is unlike a techno-skeptic’s beliefs. I guess this would put me somewhere in between a techno-optimist and a techno-skeptic and I am sure I am not the only one who would fall somewhere in between the two extremes. Once something in the environment is caused too much harm, the harm may become irreversible and we do need the environment, even with technology, for us to survive.

Are WE the Problem?

After reading Kerry Emanuel’s What We Know about Climate Change, and reflecting on previous classes and issues, it seems that us humans are being blamed for the climate change in our atmosphere. The term “global warming” is constantly being linked to humans’ using man-made devices that emit greenhouse gasses which in return affect the temperature of the Earth. But, the question that has disturbed me these past 8 weeks of summer courses is “are we really the problem”? Sure, I understand that driving cars and (the worst of them all) animal-meat production cause enormous amounts of CO2 to enter the Earth, but a lot of natural causes contribute as well. Take for example volcanic eruptions. In Hawaii, when the volcano Kilauea erupts it emits CO2 into the air that is equivalent to around 1,000 SUV’s. Although in comparison, there are WAY less volcanoes than there are manmade devices that emit CO2, but I just feel like human activity shouldn’t be taking ALL of the blame of “global warming”.