Saturday, April 16, 2011
N is for Nuclear Nightmares
Nuclear Nightmares. Ever since the close of WWII the dread of a potential nuclear war seized the collective imaginations of people everywhere. Literally everywhere--this was a global nightmare that had been unleashed. One that could strike anywhere, at any time and even if it didn't directly blast you to cinders, it would rain down toxic, radioactive dust across all the world. Scary stuff.
Nevil Shute's On the Beach is one of the grimmest and most depressing stories ever converted into a movie. Even Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner couldn't breathe life into the slow-motion despair that just keeps accumulating like fall-out until everyone is pretty much dead. Don't take that the wrong way; it's a good movie. But the subject matter isn't fun, nor should it necessarily ever really be fun. Radiation doesn't give you super-powers or extra-limbs. It gives you cancer and kills you. And everything else affected by it. But that's depressing and not much of a basis for a role-playing game. Unless you're into post-modern nihilism as some sort of theme. Blech.
Here is the last ten minutes of the 1959 movie:
Depressing isn't it? But well acted and memorable. Unlike the remake...
Stanley Kubrick probably nailed the definitive Nuclear Nightmare with Doctor Strangelove. Everyone has seen the classic scene...
Riding the Bomb
A (sort of) Survival Plan
Precious Bodily Fluids
Oh shoot, you can watch the movie for free over at Veoh.
But one of the best Nuclear Nightmares, and one that tends to get overlooked or forgotten is Colossus: The Forbin Project from 1970. The movie is based on the 1966 novel Colossus, not by a man named lear, but by Dennis Feltham Jones. Colossus is the first of a trilogy. Unfortunately it seems that the three books are currently out of print, but you can get a good idea of what they are like/all about by checking the Wikipedia entries for each of them:
You can also watch most of the movie via Google Video:
...unfortunately this version of the movie is incomplete.
It's enough to give you some ideas. It certainly influenced a few of the Nuclear Nightmares that followed. There's not that much action, but the opening sequence with Forbin sealing-up the Colossus installation is very memorable and a great intro-piece for Mutant Future games. Just imagine what it might be like to try to break into that place in a few decades or centuries after a nuclear war or alien invasion?
There is talk of a re-make, but unless they blend all three books into one big story, it probably won't do all that well. Doing a story set after a war that finally cripples Colossus/Guardian and leaves humanity teetering on the brink of extinction--that could be interesting. The second book is far more intriguing than the first one, especially because it takes things farther and explores the repercussions of a mega-computer taking over the Earth and instituting a very Orwellian-esque World Government. We'll see if it ever does get re-made. Maybe SyFy will do a knock-off version.
What's your favorite Nuclear Nightmare?