By Genie


Hollywood disaster movies are a popular genre of film. This article will explore the realism of the scenes shown in the film ‘Earthquake’ which was produced in 1974.


Earthquakes usually occur along the edge of the Oceanic and Continental plates

The location where this type of hazard usually occurs along the edge of the oceanic and continental plates.

In the film, the hazard was shown to be occurring in Los Angeles. This is an inaccurate location for an earthquake to happen because the tectonic plates do not move past each other, as portrayed in the film, but moves up and down.

How do Earthquakes work in reality?

The Earth's crust is made up of several pieces called tectonic plates. There are 7 major plates and several minor ones on the surface of our planet moving very slowly. The biggest tectonic plates are the African Plate, Antarctic plate, Eurasian plate, Indo-Australian plate, the North American plate, the Pacific Plate and the South American Plate.

Earthquakes are a sudden violent shaking of the ground, often causing great destruction; caused by movements in the Earth's crust.

Earthquakes are usually caused when the tectonic plates suddenly breaks along a fault. When the edges of faults are together, the energy that causes the them to slide past one another is built up. When the plates suddenly breaks along a fault, it releases a sudden burst of energy, which causes the seismic waves that make the ground shake.

One of the most important processes to cause this hazard is when a plate suddenly breaks along a fault, causing the built up pressure to radiate energy outwards from the fault; therefore causing the earth to shake.

This hazard normal produces effects such as landslides, fires, tsunamis, structural damage, surface faulting and soil liquefaction.

The diagram below shows how the process works

Big image

Case Study

One real example of a hazard which has shown this is in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake.

The earthquake stuck San Francisco, the morning of April 18th at 5:15AM.

It registered 8.5 on the richter scale, and was considered one of the most significant earthquakes in America's history.

Fires raged on for 3 days and there was no way to stop it. The water mains had been broken by the earthquake, so there was no supply for the fire engines. Over 80% of the city was destroyed by the fires. The Mayor of the city decided to use dynamites as a desperate attempt to put a stop to the fires. Some of the finest buildings and modern architecture were blown up. In spite of their efforts, that seemed to make the situation worse and made the fire spread quicker.

Around 3,000 deaths were reported and 225,000 people were left homeless after the earthquake.

The hazard was typical of or different to other similar hazard events because it also affected a lot of people's livelihoods and led to a chain of destruction.

How does the film clip differ from reality?

The film clip is similar to real life earthquakes in a number of ways.

The event during the clip at 0.52 seconds, showed debris falling from buildings injuring people and people frozen in fear. This is typical because parts of infrastructure would collapses due to a number or reasons, such as, soil fail, joint fail and the tremors.

Another expected aspect of the film that occurs in reality is 2:44 minutes. Water dams may be destroyed during an earthquake, causing more damage to buildings and killing more people.

There are also some less realistic aspects of the film. For example, in 2:27 minutes, it shows a damaged bridge exploding. This is unrealistic because it's unlikely for a bridge to explode without a clear reason.

Another unexpected event happens in 1:51 minutes. In this scene, it shows a truck going off course and falling off the highway. This is unexpected because a tremor is unlikely to throw a truck off course and cause it to fall off the road.

Earthquake (1974) Official Trailer #1 - Charlton Heston Movie HD

In Conclusion...

In conclusion the clips shown in the film are mainly unrealistic.

The hazard is not really realistic because the tectonic plates do not move past each other, as portrayed in the film, but moves up and down.

As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of unrealistic aspects in the short 2 minute trailer.

Such as the location of here it was shot, the severity of it's events and the actions of the people in the trailer, an example shown in 1:40 minutes.

Hollywood chose to exaggerate natural hazards to make it more dramatic, builds up the pressure for the audience and to more visually exciting.