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Entry updated 18 January 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1974). Universal. Directed by Mark Robson. Written by George Fox, Mario Puzo. Cast includes Genevieve Bujold, Ava Gardner, Lorne Greene, Charlton Heston and George Kennedy. 123 minutes. Colour.

This film is included in the encyclopedia as a representative member of a class of marginally sf films, Disaster movies, which normally deal with events that, while they have not yet happened, plausibly might in the very Near Future. In practice the feeling of most disaster films is not science-fictional, their point being to generate an emotional thrill through the disaster itself rather than to investigate causes and effects. This example, commercially very successful, shows the destruction of Los Angeles (see California) by a major earthquake, and as usual focuses on a small group who struggle to survive. Technically the film is adroit, though the human relationships are stilted and stereotyped. It is a showcase for some of Hollywood's best special-effects men, many of whom were persuaded to come out of retirement to work on it; one of them, Clifford Stine, had created the effects in Universal's series of Horror in SF films in the 1950s, including The Incredible Shrinking Man (1957). Earthquake special gimmick was the introduction of "Sensurround", a system intended to thrill and disturb audiences with low-frequency vibrations generated by powerful electro-acoustic horns placed at the front and rear of the movie theatre. [JB]


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