marți, 13 iunie 2017

On the Beach, based on the novel by Nevil Shute

On the Beach, based on the novel by Nevil Shute

A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:

On The Beach deals with the most important subject of them all:

-          The end of humanity

A global nuclear was has taken place and the few survivors, at the scale of the planet, are waiting for their death.
The radioactive cloud has not yet reached Australia, but it is just a question of time.

This issue is paramount and even if it looks unlikely that a holocaust of this kind will take place, the survival of the planet is in question.
In nuclear terms, the super powers will not engage in conflict any time soon, not of the nuclear kind and not in the near future.

There is the danger that the North Korean lunatic will use his increasing arsenal, or something going wrong between India and Pakistan for instance, but if it happens, that war would probably not involve the destruction of mankind.

The Clear and Present Danger is that the climate change that we witness and some, like the Donald, refute will end by melting large portions of the ice caps and then submerge huge territories, like Bangladesh, Florida, New York and others, with an inevitable massive conflict and war over the remaining scares supplies.
In On The Beach, the cast is fantastic:

-          Gregory Peck is Cmdr. Dwight Lionel Towers falling in love with Moira Davidson, played by Ava Gardner
-          Fred Astaire is not dancing in this drama but has the role of an “egg head”, a scientist who races a Ferrari- Julian Osborne
-          Anthony Perkins gives a wonderful performance, with his usual charming manner as Lt. Peter Holmes

Dwight Lionel Towers is bringing his American submarine to the waters of Australia, where there are still people living.
Elsewhere, most of mankind appears to have died, even if they entertain some hope, which they know is vain since the radioactive cloud would get everywhere, sooner or later.

“The war started when people accepted the idiotic principle that peace could be maintained - - by arranging to defend themselves with weapons they couldn't possibly use - - without committing suicide. Everybody had an atomic bomb, and counter-bombs, and counter-counter bombs. The devices outgrew us; we couldn't control them…”

Julian Osborne has this and other brilliant lines that explain the disaster in simple words, albeit the scenario is unlikely, given that there are hot lines of communication and launching nuclear weapons is not exactly as easy as he presents it- a scared guy just presses a button and it is all over- there are some checks and balances.
Knowing that the nuclear codes are in the hands of an unstable, narcissistic, old child with orange complexion and that he can launch a series without any supervision whatsoever is not reason to relax, but we can hope he will not do anything stupid- well, anything else than he already does on twitter, in meetings with Russians that get secrets from him, etc., etc.

There is obviously desperation and a need to enjoy the very last moments that the survivors feel in this period before The End.
Without being a horror film, with chainsaws and blood all over floors, walls and everything in sight, this is a pretty gruesome picture.

Moira Davidson is trying to find some solace in drinking and taking in incredible amounts for that matter.
Until she meets Dwight Lionel, who has a broken heart, given that his wife and children used to live in the USA.

They do entertain a hope when they hear what they take as Morse signals, coming out from near San Francisco.
The nuclear submarine is departing on a voyage to find out if any survivors are trying to communicate with the world.

-          Whatever is left of it

There are a number of painful scenes, one of which involves the discussion over the fate of children under the circumstances.
Once the cloud will be here, it is evident that the end is very near, the process of dying being accelerated.

So one parent is talking to the other about the need to give the pill to the child so that he will die fast and not survive the death of his father and mother.

Thought provoking, sublime film.

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