Humanity prepares for the worst disaster scenario in Deep Impact, the apocalyptic blockbuster that imposes Morgan Freeman as a proto-Barack Obama.
Haloed by the most alarmist predictions, the transition to the year 2000 will have made more than one tremble. A climate of anxiety on which the Hollywood industry has been able to capitalize by relaunching the genre of disaster film with great blows of greenbacks. On the eve of the new millennium, giants such as Independence Day, Twister and Le Pic de Dante arrived on screens around the world. Cataclysm do you want it here sprinkled with great heroic speeches, the formula is well-honed and the recipe always wins.
Bringing together rookie actors, like Elijah Wood and Leelee Sobieski, and other confirmed ones, like Morgan Freeman, Robert Duvall and Vanessa Redgrave, Deep Impact has a more modest ambition ($75 million budget), but ensures a nice return on investment (nearly 350 million garnered at the global box office). Only, despite its theatrical success, Michael Bay's bulldozer and its all-star cast supplanted it a few months later with the general public. Would we dare to speak of injustice?
"My dear fellow citizens, here we are in trouble"
IMPACT IN 3, 2, 1…
One night, while observing space through a telescope, young Leo Biederman (Elijah Wood) discovers an unknown star in the sky. More than a year passes before the truth comes to light: a comet is heading straight for Earth and the collision will take place in about a year. In collaboration with Russia, the President of the United States, Tom Beck (Morgan Freeman), and his government set up a space mission, led by Captain Tanner (Robert Duvall), to divert the comet from its trajectory. Journalist Jenny Lerner (Téa Leoni), stationed in Washington, then finds herself commenting on each stage of the mission on television.
To account for the fateful deadline that is approaching, the story chooses to accelerate the course of mid-term events by means of ellipses whose interval is gradually reduced. Several intertitles, indicating the number of weeks, days and hours before the impact, follow one another on the screen and redouble the feeling of urgency. The apprehension of the disaster thus becomes exponential, and it is all the more striking that the film long chomping at the bit in terms of spectacular to better let go of the horses at the end.
Next door, Neil Armstrong is a small player
Despite the awe-inspiring views of the spacecraft, aka "The Messiah," dodging the flood of debris carried by the comet, the film's most harrowing moments occur on Earth. As in 75% of Hollywood blockbusters of the time, the special effects company Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) provided the show. Even if some sets are built in hard, like the surface of the comet, most of the apocalyptic visions are created by computer, starting with the giant wave which hits the American east coast during the last act.
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