Mark Kermode’s Secrets of Cinema: Disaster Movies

Mark Kermode's Secrets of Cinema
Picture Shows: Mark Kermode. Image Credit: BBC/Richard Ansett.

The latest edition of Mark Kermode’s now semi-regular documentary series is an episode that we hope is not an indication that the end is nigh.

This time Kermode looks into the troupes that makes up the disaster movie, a genre that was a staple for him as a child, saying early on during this episode that during the course of one week he went to see The Towering Inferno at the cinema three times.

One of the key points Kermode returns to in this programme is how disaster movies, like horror films, are often moralities tales with their origins in the Bible. Sometimes this is obvious, with disaster movies that relate to the book of Revelations, or with religious characters like Gene Hackman’s priest in The Poseidon Adventure, but it can also more oblique with the skyscraper in The Towering Inferno being akin to the Tower of Babel.

Like with the other episodes in this series, Kermode sets out key points that link various disaster films. These include the calm before the storm, the actual disaster, coming to terms with what has happened and what is going to happen, and trying to resolve the issue or dying in the attempt.

There are always some cutting remarks from Kermode in these programmes. One particular one his description of Armageddon as: “The Donald Trump of disaster movies” (Kermode says that its director, Michael Bay, is his least favourite director of all). Kermode also advises to not travel to New York, as it has been destroyed in disaster movies more than any other city.

Secrets of Cinema is always entertaining and informative. You just hope that his choice of apocalyptic ending isn’t a sign of things ending for this series.

Mark Kermode’s Secrets of Cinema is available on BBC iPlayer.

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