Fourteen Things about 2012
14. The first scene foreshadows so much: a careless taxi driver doesn't notice that a little boy is playing with a toy boat in a puddle, and creates a mini "tsunami" that capsises the little craft.
13. This movie actually made me happy that I studied "Evangelical Geology." Who knew that Catastrophism was so cool?
12. The scenes of destruction are just beautiful--and director Roland Emmerich does a great job of distancing our minds from the millions of people who must have perished in terrible fear and agony. Ah, CGI, late have I loved you . . .
11. Speaking of Emmerich . . . 2012 is vastly, vastly superior to his earlier effort The Day after Tomorrow, because in this one the survival of humanity isn't centred on over-privileged, unsupervised teenagers, no matter how geekily wholesome, and snarky eccentrics . . . but on the nuclear family.
10. Emmerich has also caused controversy by admitting that he didn't dare touch Mecca--even a CGI Mecca--for fear of Islamic retaliation. It makes me feel very bad for Muslims.
While watching Rome crumble to pieces, I remembered this verse from G.K. Chesterton's Ballad of the White Horse--appropriately enough, part of a speech by "Mark, the man from Italy":
"Stand like an oak," cried Marcus.
"Stand like a Roman wall.
Eldred the Good is fallen.
Are you too good to fall?"
Well, Catholics do get a vicious backhand. Michaelangelo's famous painting of God and Adam is the first part of the Sistine Chapel to crack open . . .
. . . and of course, the crack divides the painting just where God's and Adam's fingers are about to touch.
And yet . . .
Mecca lost something by being left out in the cold. I really do feel bad for Muslim movie lovers everywhere.
9. Let me explain further. When my brother and I were walking home after the movie, he asked me, "Why did only America get destroyed?"
I said: "It only focussed on America because it's a Hollywood movie. But other countries got destroyed, too. Didn't you see that huge tsunami wipe out the whole satellite image of the Philippines?"
That made him feel better.
8. Among my lighter reflections, it's reassuring to know that when earthquakes off the Richter scale are devastating whole cities, all the runways will be the last to crumble.
7. Did anyone else notice that the little plane they use to escape first the earthquakes and then the volcano is named "Western Spirit"?
6. Then there are Lilly Curtis' hats, which are simply eloquent. I can only describe them as a cross between a silent Greek chorus and a fashion editorial.
5. Why did they have to get an actor to play Governor Schwarzenegger? =( I'm sure he would have been happy to do a cameo.
4. While we're on the subject of heads of state, I must say that there's no way England's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip would have saved their corgis and dumped their subjects. It was a cheap shot bordering on character assassination. Say what you like about the decadence Europe has achieved since World War II: duty and dignity are still bred into the bones of many European royals.
3. This next part is something you may not want to read at all. I'm giving it the same colour as the background so that you'd have to highlight it to read it. Please keep in mind that once you read it, you will never be able to unread it . . .
I used to be a disgusting kid. Something I liked to do was time my peeing. I'd average twenty to thirty seconds of pee every time I went to the bathroom, but I was determined to go as high as I possibly could--the health of my kidneys be darned. This childhood goal is the root of what is now a lifetime habit of counting the seconds every time I get to a toilet. What does this have to do with anything, you may be wondering?
Well, my three longest pees all happened in cinema bathrooms! I achieved a personal high in the early 90s, when I dragged my mother away from The Mask so that she could take my younger self to the bathroom: 52 seconds! I didn't break that record until almost ten years later, when I ordered a large Pepsi to wash down my butter popcorn as I watched the interminable The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King: 54 seconds! Then there was today . . . My bladder started to demand my attention while the main protagonists were still in California . . . and you might remember that they were en route to China. To make an agonising story short . . . 60 seconds!!!
2. A last word on Emmerich: at least he loves books. He turns a huge city library into a snow cave in The Day after Tomorrow and makes sure (albeit for secular reasons) that a Gutenberg Bible is preserved for future generations. In 2012, the most important book is the fictional Farewell Atlantis, which was written by one of the characters and sold less than 500 copies. Its plot parallels that of the movie, though it doesn't have a very pivotal role in the latter.
1. And the last word of this novel about the destruction of the world as we know it, is . . . "Wisconsin."
Uncle Gilbert would approve. =)
Image Source: a) 2012 movie poster, b) Sistine Chapel fresco