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Working in the Metaverse

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Elijah Reed
Elijah Reed

Meteor (1979)HD



Meanwhile, more meteorite fragments strike Earth (one inside Siberia), and the Soviets finally agree to join in the effort. Both satellites are coordinated, and turned towards the incoming large asteroid as smaller fragments continue to strike the planet, causing great damage, including a deadly avalanche in the Swiss Alps and a tsunami which devastates Hong Kong. With hours remaining prior to Orpheus' impact, as planned, Peter the Great's missiles are launched first because of its relative position to the asteroid, with Hercules's missiles timed to be fired 40 minutes later.




Meteor (1979)HD



Eventually, the missiles reach the meteoroid. The first wave of missiles strikes the rock, causing a small explosion, the second wave follows with a larger blast, and the third wave creates an enormous explosion. When the dust clears, the asteroid appears obliterated. In New York City, the radios broadcast the good news: Orpheus is no longer a danger to Earth. Just then, the subway station occupants are rescued.


Theodore R. Parvin received the idea for the story from a Saturday Review article by Isaac Asimov about a meteor hitting a major city in the United States. Parvin hired Edmund H. North to write the screenplay, who took further inspiration from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Project Icarus. However, Ronald Neame and Sean Connery disliked both North's script and a rewrite by Steven Bach, and so hired Stanley Mann to completely re-write the screenplay. This led to a Writers Guild of America dispute over whether North should be credited as a co-writer.[7]


Don't forget also that Neame insisted on using his own piece of lava rock for the meteor of the film's title. He lumped his crew with insisting that one. From the beginning he wasn't exactly helping the VFX war.


There's a REALLY impressive black box dump tank miniature of Honk Kong (matted precisely over a still of the real city) for the epic tidal wave shot, and it really holds up today IMO. Reminds me of similar black box shots in digital effects stuff like the opening of X Files The Movie. Along with that there are many other great shots too, like the left over devastation of the New York, which is really simply but effectively handled (still photo work on an animation stand intercut with an exploding miniature of the WTC licked with coloured filters from the optical printer). The final shot of the exploding meteor is a very clever abstraction of high speed ignited gas photography.


Neame had an interview in the same AC issue (december 1979) which covered the production of Spielberg's 1941. He hardly blamed anyone at that time and he even praised Lohmann to the point of claiming he would be his first choice for every future film of his (they never worked together again, at least in a feature). I haven't seen METEOR in ages, but as a disaster film enthusiast back in my youth I never felt it was never a very enjoyable film. My problem wasn't the shoddy effects and cheap look for a major film (I believe there's even some red-tinted stock footage of collapsing buildings after the big meteor hits NYC), it was the script, which tried to hard to be serious with boring and ridiculous results. Robert Wise's THE HINDENBURG also tried to be serious and it was boring too, but it never went to that degree of campiness. And from a technical point of view, you still can't beat Whitlock's matte-paintings and Robert Surtees lush, old fashioned photography.