Crack In The World
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Crack in the World

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There is a particular niche in the myriad of movie genres that seems to generate more than its share of guilty pleasure fan; the disaster flick. The undisputed king of this type of film had an alternate yet exceptionally interesting view of the category of cinema; to him they weren’t disaster movies, they were survival films. Now, on the surface this may appear to be a simple matter of semantics but just giving it a bit of thought and you’ll see that it changes the entire outlook on and scope and direction of the movie. A disaster movie is all about the actual cataclysmic event whether it is an earthquake, plane crash or asteroid striking the planet. The movie is all about what leads up to the defining moment and ultimately the devastation that ensues. In contrast the survivor film uses the calamity as the instigating moment. It is the circumstance that is put in place to test the moral fiber of those that live through it. Typically a survivor movie is driven by its nature as a morality play. There is always the stalwart hero rushing in completely indifferent to the prospect of personal danger to save other. This rescued caste frequently includes women, children, pets and the infirm. In stark contrast the bad guy is diametrically opposite. He is cowardly, self serving and quite often is a significant cause of the calamity. He can usually be found fleeing headlong to safety climbing over the injured and helpless. This type of story is quite literally as old as time; the qualities that lift men above the mortal throng juxtaposed against the most vile attributes a man can manifest. The variations can be very entertaining rich in diversity offering many flavors to choose from. The disaster provides the situation that places reasonable people in the most unreasonable circumstances imaginable. This emotional caldron allows the film maker to twist the world around his characters around to see how they will react. In the film under review here; ‘Crack in the World’ we get one of the three casual factors found in these films; science going beyond reason resulting in global apocalypse. Just for the record the other two potential sources to set off the disaster are technological failure and nature gone wild.

Advances in technology have always offered a two edge sword; it can make our lives immeasurable better or turn against us altering the balance of the world. In this film the genie posed to leave the bottle goes under the innocuous guise of ‘Project Inner space’ headed by Dr. Stephen Sorenson (Dana Andrews). He and his team are in Tanganyika, Africa, pouring over clear plastic maps to locate the right spot for their ingenious plan. Sorenson and his fellow scientist plan to sink a shaft deeper into the earth than anyone has ever dared to dig. Their hope it to reach all the way down to the core and tap the magma as an unlimited source of cheap unending power. Their efforts are halted when they encounter an exceptional dense layer of material baring further progress. The solution is to detonate a thermonuclear device to break through. Opposing this method is the project’s chief geologist, Dr. Ted Rampion (Kieron Moore). He fears that years of underground testing have seriously disrupted the integrity in the crust and the proposed detonation would result in a total failure of the crust that contains our planet’s molten core. This could result in a crack that would travel around the globe splitting the earth in two. Another plot device common in these movies is brought to bear when traces of Hydrogen are discovered in the signature of the blast. Instead of a small conventional nuke a hydrogen bomb millions of times more potent were used. The feared crack is formed and rushes around the globe. Another bomb is detonated but instead of stopping the crack reverses its path forcing it to completely encircle the planet.

First of all toss away any compulsion you might harbor for scientific accuracy. That ship has sailed and is rounding Fuji about now. This movie does come down more on the side of disaster movie than survivor film. While there is some setup for individual effort the plot is pretty much center on the growing disaster and the broader spectra of ending life on our little blue planet. If anything the contrast is more between the myopic view of the project exhibited by Sorenson and the cautious inclination of Rampion. In an attempt to liven up the footage between the special effects shots there is a romantic triangle formed between the two men and Sorenson’s wife the ever lovely Maggie (Janette Scott). Since this was 1965 the modern thing to do was bestow a doctorate on the Mrs. making her the other Dr. Sorenson. You most probably recognize the name of Ms Scott; she appeared in the Sci-Fi classic ‘Day of the Triffids’ which resulted in her name being immortalized in the opening number of ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’. For those keeping score Dana Andrews is also mentioned by name in that number for his role in ‘1957’s ‘Curse of the Demon’. Kieron Moore also played Scotts’ Husband in’Triffids’ making this a rather inbred movie not uncommon for the time. For a film of this nature the special effects are significantly better than the current SyFy original flicks usually airing on Saturday night. The denouement is an excellent visual providing the hope for all mankind that usually comes out of a story like this. Science may screw up royally bringing us to the brink of annihilation but somehow we manage to persevere to see the dawn of a new day. The recent Blu-ray release of this movie is better than you might imagine. Not only do the color pop better than I remember watching this flick in the theater but the audio offers a sound stage that is impressive, the sub woofer underneath giving a foundation to the expertise of their Foley artist. The overall result of this movie in High definition is something that makes this movie well worth having.

Posted 07/08/11

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