As soon as this movie started, I knew I should blog about it.
The very first images after the credits feature bible verses (Genesis 6:12,13):
And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.
A pilot named Randall arrives at an observatory in South Africa, hired to deliver a top secret package to a New York observatory. The New York observatory confirms the other place got their math right and the UN or something like it meets to discuss the findings. According to the scientists, two worlds are indeed going to collide in eight months. Bellus is a star that’s on a trajectory in line with Earth. Its planet, Zyra, will be close enough to the Earth by that point to try something pretty bold. They hope “with god’s help and guidance” that humans should be able to put together rockets (modern Noah’s Arks as it were) to escape the Earth’s destruction and land on the new planet even though they have no proof it’d be at all survivable.
(This film came out in 1951 when rockets to other planets were still part of a “dreamworld,” and one guy in the meeting considers them crackpot doomsayers. He’ll soon find out he’s wrong. They all will…)
The ones putting the rocket ideas into motion have to deal with the issue of who to take, who to leave behind and how to decide. They figure between 40-50 people will fit on each rocket. A rich guy named Stanton grumpily puts money into this endeavor in the hopes he’ll be more likely to get a seat on one.
I don’t know enough math. Will their slide conserve enough fuel to launch this puppy? I don’t know…
A montage of front page headlines and footage of prayers in the streets of the world is added. Massive evacuations have been going on to get people out of the coastal areas although if a star really was going to smack into this planet, it wouldn’t matter if you were in New York City or Montana…
The planet makes it scheduled approach near the earth and rumbles happen, bridges fall, volcanoes erupt, glaciers shed icebergs, homes and forests burn, the seas boil with tidal forces unfamiliar to the planet before this time. I don’t know what their budget was, but they use an impressive series of images.
They opt to run a lottery. Joyce, the daughter of one of the scientists is a sure bet to go for the ride. Randall doesn’t think he should go and didn’t get a number, but “she wants you, Dave” — but he’s insistent that his space should still be given to someone else. And they’re all running out of time. Doc Tony (who had loved Joyce and wanted to marry her) convinces him he should come, though, because they may need another pilot to take over flying in case the first one doesn’t survive.
Once the lottery results come out, just before it’s time to leave, people are starting to go a bit nuts, those leaving and those staying behind, but everyone on board gets out okay and they step right into a painting pretending to be another world.
In terms of disaster movies, it’s not the best I’ve ever seen, but it was short. There are a few scenes in there where they show families having to be split up and romantic partings and kids being rescued and a dog, too. There’s also a part near the end where Joyce’s father sees the mob coming toward the rocket intent on raising hell before take off and rather than board with Mr. Stanton, he sets the rocket in motion and the two of them stay behind. Stanton’s pretty pissed off but the father reminds him that the future is for the young. And, really, he won’t have to be pissed off for long. Either he’ll get beaten to a pulp by an angry mob or they’ll all disintegrated by the solar disaster.
I don’t recommend this film unless you like bad science in your science fiction, though.
I didn’t remember watching it EVER but the Man has laughingly reminded me that he and I had watched his VHS copy a while back and poked all manner of holes into it. My memory really sucks…