Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why I Love Geology 2: 007

Okay. So we've established that geologists are generally cool people who do cool things.

But did you know that we're also secretly the world's sexist spies?Yep. As shown here in that cinematic triumph, Dante's Peak:I love everything about this movie, starting with the name; Dante's Peak - Dante's Inferno, get it? Subtle as a hammer to the face?

Oh, yeah.

The odd thing about this flick is that it is clearly meant to drag up the 1980 eruption of Mt. St. Helen's. You've got the small town (supposedly Washington but actually filmed in Idaho) literally in the shadow of the great volcano, all the flannel-and-latte trappings that the rubes associate with the Great Northwest, at least after David Lynch got through with them, and even a Harry Truman like-a-look in "Grandma Ruth" refusing to leave the upper slopes of Dante's hell-Peak because she knows "this ol' mountain won't hurt me..."

Riiiiiiiight, Grandma.

But does anyone other than me think that the entire notion of making a "Mt. St. Helen's" movie in 1997 was totally whack? Seventeen years after the eruption that made the national news wasn't exactly "ripped from today's headlines". I suspect that most people sorta-kinda remembered the events of May seventeen years earlier, but how did that help sell this flick? I suspect that the long remove from the historical event helped sink this turkey at the box office.

Geologically it's not a complete wash. The volcano does go from dormant to Plinian eruption within weeks rather than months, as is the actual case. And, no, entire mountain lakes don't really turn to acid, or hot springs suddenly boil skinny-dippers to death.
Although the dummies should really know better; anytime you get naked in a disaster/slasher flick, you're gonna die. Horribly. You know that. Grow a brain, people, and keep your damn skivvies on!
But there's some reasonably-close-to-accurate stratovolcano geology, and the final pyroclastic explosion is pretty damn cool.

And you have Linda Hamilton, all craggy-beautiful, stone-washed wholesome, and foofily serious as the mayor of this fictional small town as well as the proprietor and sole barista of the local coffee spot, acting all intent in a sort-of-spacey disaster-movie fashion to provide both the required local viewpoint and the Love Interest.

Why a love interest in a flick about volcanic death, you ask?

Because the hero hunka-hunka burnin' volcanologist who comes to the rescue is none other than Double-Oh Seven. Bond. James Bond.Seriously. James Bond, U.S. Geological Survey. Pierce Brosnan; the late-Nineties Bond himself, bustles onto the scene in his whompin' cool U.S.G.S. SUV (complete with snorkel for driving through rivers - you knew that all federal geologists are issued these, right?) to bark warnings to the ignorant hicks (producing much alarmed headshaking) and argue with complacent superiors (to be first reprimanded and, after the inevitable eruption, ruefully deferred to). Oh, and to conduct a "romance" with Linda the mayor/barista, naturally, although from the weak decaf they brew together it seems that Mister Kiss-kiss-bang-bang has left his Walther in his other pants and that Sarah Connor is still looking for Mr. Right rather than Mr. Right Now.But he's fucking James Bond, people. And he works for the U.S.G.S.!

How cool is that?

So to review; cool flaming volcano death, parboiled naked hootchie, Linda Hamilton necking with James Bond, acid lakes, lattes, driving government vehicles through raging rivers.Let's face it; geology is just flat-out, stomp-down, shake-your-moneymaker cool, and that's all there is to it.

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