Media Literacy Term paper

As a matter of fact The Day After Tomorrow is a 2004 apocalyptic science-fiction film combining various types of motion picture, as it can probably be called a thriller with a propaganda message, an adventure movie with elements of drama. Being a symphony of all the possible elements, it still remains a superior disaster motion picture filmed mostly in Montreal and is the second highest grossing Hollywood film.

Before we watch the motion picture, we may only guess what it is about, as the title is mysterious and gives a general idea that the film may be about the future. It may also tell about the way the life and people of the future will change describing a new model of behavior and relations.

Judging from the title The Day After Tomorrow, it is quite reasonable to expect the motion picture telling of the new life conditions, however, it may also be misleading, figurative and symbolic, consequently, one can hardly judge the film by the title. Vice versa, to understand the title one should carefully watch the movie to penetrate into the atmosphere and, as a rule, a well-chosen title becomes a key to the whole motion picture.

Ronald Emmerich, a director, producer and scenario writer, shot a stunning movie which has a right to take its place among the best spectacular motion pictures of the century. At the first sight it may seem to be merely a big-budget entertaining movie which touches upon the topic of extreme climatic phenomena with several simple plot-lines coming to a predictable dénouement. However, this motion picture requires close and profound examination; it is thought-provoking and ambiguous due to the issues raised in it. The general problem considered in the movie is surely the global warming and its consequences.


The taglines of The Day After Tomorrow are philosophically grounded, they question: “Where will you be? 10,000 years ago one storm changed the face of our planet. On May 28, it will happen again. Nature has spoken”¦ Whoever said “Tomorrow is another day” did not check the weather”. The film is action-packed and tempered with human drama.

It is really had to keep from having the eyes fixed on the screen, as the very beginning of the movie brings viewers in tension. Two climatologists witness the ice shelf crack and break off from the continent. Jack Hall (Dennis Quaid) decides to travel to the United Nations conference in India, New Delhi which is devoted to global warming processes, he delivers the report, though the vice-president and some other diplomats are skeptical about his theory and unwilling to take measures in advance for the catastrophe prevention. Jack Hall objects, claiming that the last chunk of ice that broke off was about the size of the state of Rhode Island. Terry Rapson, a Scottish climatologist, supports him and as he arrives to Scotland a massive drop in water temperature is monitored and the melting of the ice started disrupting the North Atlantic current. Rapson suggests using Hall’s model to predict further weather changes, as he supposes that Hall’s forecast model is capable of plotting the scenario of what is going on. Jack Hall responds that his model is just a reconstruction of prehistoric climate shift, but not a forecast model. Jack is surprised that things he described as possible in a thousand years or so may happen in a decade. The salt water balance is disrupted, the entire northern hemisphere is about to suffer a severe storm which will result in ice age described in fables.

Violent weather causes destruction and chaos on an international scale. Numerous and unexpected tornado warnings in Los Angeles turn out to be true and tornados destroy the Hollywood sign and devastate practically all the city. Two planes get into severe turbulence and crash. The Royal Family is caught into a massive hurricane superstorm and the temperature swiftly drops to about one hundred degrees below zero. The fuel instantly freezes and they crash. Jack’s son Sam goes to New York for the academic competition with Brian and Laura, their plane undergoes serious turbulence and the weather becomes more and more violent, the winds and precipitation increase. As all the flights are canceled, students remain in the city and find a shelter in the New York Public Library. Jack Hall gets to know about it and is courageous and experienced enough to make a dangerous journey to safe his son Sam. They and those who decided to stay in the library have to burn books, as they will either burn them or freeze to death. As Jack and his friend arrive in New York City, they cannot find the library at once as it is buried under the snow. Then, those who are not frozen before Hall arrives, are rescued, as the violent weather settles down and the film ends with a satellite view of the Earth showing the entire northern hemisphere covered with ice, but the sky is clear. Hard times are past, but has the superstorm gone forever? Nobody knows it for sure.

Though the motion picture in general is controversial, the majority of scientists agree that global warming threatens our blue marble, still they claim that it will never conquer the Earth in such a short period of time. The things are poetically shown and the horrifying atmosphere is masterfully created due to the over-the-top effects, spectacular and iconic scenes of destruction which are awe-inspiring and believable.

Thanks to the high-quality graphics, viewers together with Jack watch what happens when the strong winds and snow damage everything, things instantly freeze and suddenly winds and snow stop and sky clears. We watch the dramatic moments when people panic and search for shelter as the storm approaches them washing everything away and the world experiences some of the most devastating weather ever witnessed or even imagined. The scenes in which the wall of water levels New York with the ground, tornado destroys half of Los Angeles and kills its citizens are truly memorable and blood curdling. The major physical qualities of a motion picture such as appropriate music of Harald Kloser, impetuously developing narration, special effects and background nature roaring which is foregrounded are skillfully combined to create the unforgettable atmosphere of the movie which keep viewers at the edge of the seats.

The motion picture under consideration has drawn a wide response and has promoted multicultural debates which are of great importance in terms of genuine global emergency which has long been ignored.

The style of the movie is certainly dramatic but it is essential to shake the public opinion, to make people to discuss the movie and the issue itself. We often realize that our rhythms of life are self-destructive and that we need to do something different getting rid of bad habits and saving out Earth for the benefit of future generations. The matter is that it helps us to realize that each day of wrong behavior and exploitative attitude towards nature brings people closer to what is shown in the movie, even if it is scientifically inaccurate. If nothing changes, an ultimate price will be paid for our thoughtlessness, as someday humans might experience the same Day After Tomorrow.

Being not merely an entertaining motion picture, The Day After Tomorrow symbolically shows the insignificance of men in the face of Mother Nature and warns about possible consequences, as Jack Hall says at the conference in India: “”¦We’ve hit a critical desalinization point. When the storm is over, we’ll be in a new Ice Age”. But time has nearly run out and when the climatologists see the results, Jack exclaims that it is impossible that the changes occur as rapidly as in eight months, but he is put right that those are not months but weeks. It is in human nature to postpone something, and to do only things which are, according to them, of primary importance, but it turns out that Nature is undervalued and not paid enough attention to, put investment in.

The message the director wanted to render is about what has always feared and fascinated people, about the future. We have always longed to know what is in store for us, and hardly prefer to visualize all the violent storms, tidal waves and tornados as a prospect for the near future. Philosophical issues of our existence are also dealt with in the motion picture, we see it on the example of several ordinary US families, son-father relations, their deep affection to each other, the pediatric-oncologist’s attitude to a patient, and all the human drama which unfolds in the film.

People are never ready to leave this world and what comes to them is the thought if they have lived this life worthily. They are not able to comprehend why they have to die when the Earth is freezing over in a flash. At the same time they remain altruistic and able to risk their own lives to save the others, which is clearly seen on the example of Jack Hall saving Sam and his friends and his mother unwilling to leave a suffering patient and many other common people. From the psychological point of view it is especially interesting to follow the behavior of different people in extreme situations. Amazingly, some of them never realized the danger they were in and instead of trying to escape they took pictures of what was going on and surely perished covered with a devastating tornado. Journalists also continued news-hunting despite the extreme conditions.

Strange as it may seem, politics is also touched upon in the motion picture, as the disaster becomes a matter on an international scale. We may pay attention to the fact how American stability is ruined. It is symbolic that the Hollywood sign which is a sign of American values, commerciality and prosperity is brought to nothing; it shows the vulnerability not only of men versus nature but also of the nation versus the general policy of the world in the extreme situation. As former rules are no more important, what really matters is safety of citizens, so Americans try to cross the border of Mexico and save their lives, but are not allowed to do it at once due to the policy conducted by the USA.

The world turns upside down as Americans become Mexican refugees, there is a kind of irony and a paradox, only there they have a chance to survive and they are given it at last. The embarrassed reporter describes the scene unfolding in front of him as a scene of despair and frustration: in a dramatic reverse of illegal immigration, thousands of people cross the Rio Grande into Mexico. People hear a sentimental speech on the air the abstract of which is striking: “Not only Americans, but people all round the globe are guests in the nations we once called the Third World. In our time of need, they have taken us in and sheltered us”¦I’m deeply grateful for their hospitality”. Moreover, the crisis changes the attitude of the rich to the poor, it seems to eliminate the gap between the richest and the poorest countries. Surely, viewers cannot help but notice the political criticism of a weak-willed president George W. Bush (Perry King) and a Dick Cheney look-alike as his vice-president (Kenneth Welsh) who was a jab at the administration of the time. The exercise of power is in a way revealed as another villain, which is also mighty and governs the states. Many horrible things happen by omission or failure to act for different reasons.

Authorities are not always able to think better of the priorities and act soundly and efficiently as well as lend an attentive ear to the specialists when required.

The film director calls for reason and at the same time intentionally includes sentimentality portraying the lives of common people and their sufferings to shake public opinion.

The question yearning for being put is: what is in store for us and what should be done to prevent similar disasters? Jack Hall partially touches upon the idea, as he is asked what is going to happen to the mankind. He presupposes that it is able to survive the ice age. But our future depends not on if we survive or not, but on whether or not we are able to learn from mistakes.

The motion picture under consideration made me to penetrate into the core of the issue of global warming and to know more about the nature of the phenomenon which contributed to my environmental education.

Leave a Reply