Disaster movie

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Frequent tension moment of the disaster film: The hubris of humans against the forces of nature
(here the sinking of the Titanic)

The disaster film , also called disaster film , describes a film genre in which an all-encompassing misfortune represents the framework plot. Frequently used scenarios are earthquakes , floods , volcanic eruptions , threats from meteorites , storms , plane crashes or ship accidents in which an individual or a group has to prove himself. The usually stereotypical staging of the hero growing beyond himself in the face of an overpowering threat is sometimes criticized as "rigid and poor in variation". Archaic orgies of destruction are dominant, most of which are contained by “restorative happy endings ”. Exemplary representatives of the genre are Airport (1970), Die Höllenfahrt der Poseidon (1972), Flammendes Inferno (1974), Meteor (1979), Deep Impact (1997), Armageddon (1998) or 2012 (2009).


In terms of film history, the disaster film has its roots in the early sensational films , such as the 1902 film Éruption volcanique à la Martinique by Georges Méliès . San Francisco (USA, 1936) is considered to be the first classic disaster film to follow today's aesthetic . The disaster film had its first high phase in the 1950s, when the competition with television promoted more spectacular film subjects. In addition, the genre complemented the threat scenarios common in horror and science fiction films at the time . While in the early 1970s the New Hollywood generation addressed the disillusioned attitude towards life of an insecure society, the traditional studio system relied on, among other things, disaster films based on a classic recipe for success with a large budget and a star line-up, including Charlton Heston , Steve McQueen , George Kennedy , Ava Gardner , Paul Newman , Dean Martin . During this time, numerous technically complex and in some cases progressive productions were made, such as the film Earthquake (1974) with the introduction of the Sensurround sound system. Since the 1990s, digital film effects have enabled image-intensive forms of explosions and destruction, which led to a renaissance of the genre.

See also


  • Manfred Hobsch: The great lexicon of disaster films. Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf Verlag GmbH, Berlin 2003, ISBN 3-89602-474-4 .
  • Nicoläa Maria Grigat: Gender and Race Topographies in American Disaster Films . Tectum Verlag, Marburg 2009, ISBN 3-8288-9930-7 .
  • Drehli Robnik, Michel Palm: rubble and ashes. 100 years of disaster film . In: Meteor 9, 1997, pp. 58-67.
  • Stephen Keane: Disaster movies. The cinema of catastrophe . London: Wallflower 2001.
  • Lois Parkinson Zamora (Ed.): The Apokalyptic Vision in America . Bowling Green, 1982.

Web links

Wiktionary: disaster film  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d Karl Juhnke: Disaster film . In: Lexikon der Filmbegriffe, edited by Hans. J. Wulff and Theo Bender.
  2. a b c d Frank Henschke: Disaster film . In: Thomas Koebner (Hrsg.): Sachlexikon des Films . 2nd Edition. Reclam, 2006, ISBN 978-3-15-010625-9 , pp. 339-341 .
  3. ^ A b Karl Juhnke: Disaster Film: Dramaturgy and Aesthetics . In: Lexikon der Filmbegriffe, edited by Hans. J. Wulff and Theo Bender.
  4. See Tom Gunning: The Cinema of Attraction: Early Films, Its Spectator and the Avant-Garde . In: Wide Angle, Vol. 8, No. 3/4, 1986.