So where’s our “On The Beach” of the Trump Era? The world desperately needs a great movie about nuclear winter and the continuing threat of nuclear war in several hot-spot regions of the world.Who will produce it, who will direct it, who will star in it, who will write it?
In 1959, based on a 1957 pulp fiction novel by Nevil Shute titled “On The Beach” and set in Australia in a world dying in the aftermath of a global nuclear war, Hollywood director Stanley Kramer shot a movie of the same name with an all-star cast of famous Hollywood actors and actresses. It was a novel, and then a movie, that changed the world.
That was then. This is now. The year 1959 has become the year 2018 and soon to become 2019, too, marking 60 years since the film first was shown. What are we going to do now? To thine own “On the Beach” be true. Nevil Shute must be rolling over in his grave at what has become of our world. .
Okay enough of the word games.
Nuclear war. Global warming. Species loss. Pandemics. Arctic forest fires in Sweden and Norway. The apocalypse has arrived again, but not always in ways we were ready to see.
Now more than ever, we need an “On the Beach” re-do. A rewrite. A new producer and director. I nominate Marshall Herskovitz. A stellar cast of actors. Think Meryl Streep. Leonardo DiCaprio.Tom Cruise. Saoirse Ronan.
A 90-minute Hollywood heart-breaker. A darkened theater tear-jerker. No fireworks. No special effects. Just solid storytelling from the boys and girls in the writers room at Paramount. Peter Jackson as executive producer. Margaret Atwood as film consultant. Shot on location in New Zealand, where the world ends.
As Jon Schwarz wrote in The Intercept this month, “the startling thing about America’s 2018 apocalyptic imagination is the dog that isn’t barking. We have ‘Westworld’ and ‘Terminator’ and ‘Ex Machina’ and a dozen more movies about artificial intelligence that decides to kill us. We have ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ and ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and ‘Mother!’ and maybe ‘Interstellar’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ about global warming. But we are notably bereft of movies, television shows, and novels about nuclear war.”
Schwarz thinks maybe this is because the danger of a nuclear Armageddon vanished after the end of Cold War. Or as he says: “Maybe we aren’t given to imagining it because it’s unimaginable.”
But Nevil Shute imagined it in 1957 and Hollywood followed up with a powerful movie in 1959, and and now we’ve got
Donald Trump doing us all, as Schwarz concludes, “the unexpected favor of kick-starting our nuclear imagination and sending us down a path where we can save ourselves.”
Here’s a list of films that Schwarz came up with to show us the way:
“Planet of the Apes”
“The Atomic Café”
“When the Wind Blows”
“The Dead Zone”
“Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”
“Time Enough at Last,” “A Little Peace and Quiet” and “The Vault”
“On the Beach”
“A Canticle for Leibowitz”
“The Fate of the Earth”
“We’ll All Go Together When We Go”
“99 Luft Balloons”
If “One the Beach” worked wonders in 1959, a re-make of the movie for the 21st century might very well take us out of our comfort zones and our daily distractions of dog/cat videos and show us the other side of midnight. Before it’s too late.
And if nothing else, it would be an entertaining popcorn movie as well.