Wednesday, 9 March 2011

2012 viewed on my 72nd birthday with a bottle of Spumante

I also watched two and three quarter films. The first was 2012 again. Another end of world experience which despite all the spectacular destruction and losses of life in their billions several hundred thousand human being survive representing about 50 nations, heads of state and their governments, security services, selected individuals who can contribute to the redevelopment of the human race plus those willing to purchase the continuation plus those able to contribute one billion euros a time. There was a time when I would have seen myself in the role of the President of the USA electing to stay with his people, trying to comfort as disaster upon disaster struck where as now it would be good to be like the ancient Tibetan man who was able to join the survival party through one of his sons.

The reason for the natural destruction of planet earth is that the rays of the sun, in this instance called neutrinos instead of providing warmth are also heating up the earth‘s core in microwave effect so that new volcanic activity on an unprecedented scale will occur, the planet will become unstable which substantial seismic activity shifting the continental masses as well as the North and South Poles coupled with devastating earthquakes and Tsunamis covering continental masses. When this is discovered the major nations unite in secret to devise a way of surviving which is not immediately disclosed to the audience, and then as a spacecraft, a solution which has been used in previous science fiction from the 1950’s. In this instance we then discover that giant ships with reinforced sides have been created, called Arks, with at one point helicopters transferring animals two by two.

The fundamental questions raised are who should be saved and when should everyone been told the truth? Do you tell someone they have an incurable disease and when? Who gets what in life and why. Age old questions retold in the latest most spectacular fashion. Of course the best way is to tell their story through the eyes of a small group of individuals especially children and the aged, pets and people we can identify with.

In this film we concentrate on two sets of individuals functioning at very different levels in society. Jackson Curtis(john Cusack) is a divorced science fiction writer with one published credit which only sold a few hundred copies and who earns his keep working as a limousine driver for a Russian oligarch with two sons and dumb blonde type mistress and pet dog as well as chief bodyguard. They are all to play leading roles later. He borrows the car to take his two children on a camping break leaving his former wife and her lover free for the weekend.

He takes them to his favourite spot in Yellowstone National Park only to find the area fenced off and the lake dried to a pond. He is collected by the military(Close encounters of the third Kind style) brought to the attention of Dr Adrian Helminsky the chief USA geological scientist whose Scientist friend in India is part of another team who forecasts what is likely to happen and the exponential speed of the changes and their consequences. Adrian has taken the information direct to the President’s Chief of Staff and now works direct to him and the President advising what is happening. The Yellowstone Park is over the St Andreas fault and become a hot spot, likely to be become a volcanic explosion of nuclear proportions and trigger everything else that happens.

By good fortune he is one of the few people who has read Jackson’s book, given to him by his father to read because it foresaw how nations would deal with the situation, in this instance the space craft solution. When off the camp site the family encounter a conspiracy fanatic with a radio internet site and online newsletter who is currently predicting what is happening and who shows Curtis his media cutting where a number of leading figures ranging from art experts to scientists have died. The art expert dies in the same spot and same way as Princess Diana.

Jackson and the two children are recalled home after their mother and lover are in a supermarket when a fault opens up separating them on each side of the divide along an aisle. Jackson after depositing the children is also recalled to take the Russian family to the airport and their private jet and as the nasty children depart one calls out that they will live while he will be among those who do not. Realising that what he has learnt adds up to a major catastrophe he hires a private plane and then rushes to the home of his ex wife and family and orders them to get in the car immediately with him. They think he has gone crazy as the Governor of California is telling everyone on TV the crisis is over and they are not to worry at the same point as the land all around the family home begins to break up. There is then the first of several fantastic journeys in which the family amazingly escape the spectacular horrors around them. When they get to the plane the pilot has been killed but fortunately the ex wife’s new partner had had a few flying lessons and is able to get the plane away with great skill and good fortune.

They go to Yellowstone Park where the conspiracy guru has a map showing where the ships, assumed to be space ships are located. When they arrive Jackson finds the guru is broadcasting from the top of a nearby peak and takes the camper van broadcasting and research centre to him and back with one of the children in another hair raising travel, and then finds the map before the plane takes off and this time the volcanic eruption is of nuclear proportions. The problem they now find is that the centre for the ships is in China Tibet and they need a larger plane. They make their way to the airport when they find the plane of the Russian oligarch stranded but he finds their is a cargo jet full of Russian cars attending a trade exhibition. The chief security man and partner of the ex wife somehow manage to get the plane off the ground as everything is destroyed around them. Their aim is to refuel in Hawaii but the state is now a mass of molten rock so they continue knowing they will only get to somewhere in the South China sea. However when they arrive in the area they find that the land mass has already shifted and the plane comes down close to the departure site. They are picked up by Chinese Military helicopters They take the oligarch and his children who has he correct boarding pass but leave his mistress together with the Jackson family. The Russian bodyguard has given up his life in getting the plane down on the ice. Fortunately the family encounter a worker at the site, his Buddhist brother and their parents.

It is now time to return to the macro scene. The Black President of the United States is portrayed as a kindly man who wife has died from cancer and whose daughter has been part of an organisation collecting the great artefacts from around the world, including the Mona Liza so they can be stored in safety from terrorists with replicas almost as good as the originals. When she hears of the death of the art expert in the Parisian road tunnel her father explains that she is to become one of a handful of individuals to know the truth about what is happening.

This raises the issue of the relatives of those involved who have tickets for the great escape. The father of geologist is a recovering alcoholic jazz musician on an cruise liner with a friend who has not had contact with his son who has married an Asian woman. The son is able to say goodbye to his father who has a drink and his friend is able to contact and speak to his grand daughter before disaster strikes and he is unable to speak to his son and daughter in law. The mother of the chief of staff has decided to stay home with her friends. The President decides to stay with his people as does the Italian head of state who stand with his family at the Vatican. Eventually an aircraft carrier swept in by a Tsunami flattens the White House, the Vatican is destroyed and the cruise liner is flipped over in an instant.

Earlier in the film we are privy to the evacuation of communities in Tibet and the enforced Labour of young men including the brother of the Buddhist monk who is separated from his aging parents. The reason for the disruption is the creation a new major dam project where the world leaders have arranged for the Arks to be built. My impression was that each would hold 400000 but the Wikipedia notes state that the overall total is 400000. Because the speeding up of the process not all the Arks are completed so that there are only four to take the final selection of survivors and one of the four is damaged leaving thousands stranded at the base.

In the film there is crisis upon crisis as the family make their way on an Ark which is also that with the geology scientist and the daughter of the USA President. The Russian Oligarch dies but manages to save his sons. The partner of the ex wife also dies. The husband nearly does not make it but manages to free the hydraulic system which enables the Ark to become water tight and use its engines and avoid being crushed against the remains of Mount Everest. The film ends as the three Arks stay afloat while the dramatic changes to surface of the earth planet take place. They find that what was South Africa becomes the place where they can begin a new society. They are able to open the hatches to breathe the air again naturally. There is hope for the individual we have come to know. The sci fi writer and his family, the scientist and the President’s daughter who reads the copy of the sci fi novel which the scientist has brought with him, never expecting to have seen the author and his children again.

There is also a different ending in the DVD version where the Ark is shipwrecked on a Island and before this the geologist who has advised the government finds that his father has survived on the cruise ship where he was a musician.

The film asks the question how do set about deciding who is saved and who is not? World leaders, religious leaders, bankers and business giants, medics and scientists, sportsmen, artists, entertainers and the media, together with their families? What of those who built the Arks and their families? What of the balance between old and young, the physically able and the disabled? Do you include convicts and drug addicts? Do you include the military and airforce instrumental in getting the chosen to the Arks and what abut the makers, the builders the cleaners, the cooks and bottle washers? Surely this is something all government will have decided long ago in their What/If scenario‘s?

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