The opening credits of Earthquake are really fantastic with a shaky helicopter shot panning over the city of Los Angeles with a heart-thumping urgent score in accompaniment. The camera ends at a dam which over looks the city, the place where the inciting incident happens, starting this impending disaster. This simple credit sequence creates a nice sense of dread to start off the film, though I'm certain it's overlooked by many. Mark Robson's Earthquake is one of the more iconic disaster flicks to come out of Hollywood, following a familiar structure that consists of a gigantic ensemble cast who we follow before, during, and after the disaster. By today's standards, Earthquake is a film that takes its time to get going, spending a lot of time developing the various characters and letting the audience get to know them. Like most films of this pedigree there are some characters who are silly and/or worthless, and a few who are worth exploring and investing in. The two most worthy being the ex-football star (Charlton Heston) who is extremely successful but unhappily married to an estranged spoiled rich wife (Ava Gardner), and the disenchanted police officer (George Kennedy) who plays by his own rules, frustrated with the corrupt system. Earthquake isn't a completely cynical film but it certainly spends time to capture both the positive and negative sides of humanity in the face of tragedy. The special effects of Earthquake are certainly one of the highlights of the film, especially considering it is one of the last big scale Hollywood films that used all practical effects. Mark Robson's Earthquake is probably a little more iconic then it deserves to be but there is no denying the thematic and narrative groundwork which would be copied and mimicked even to this day.
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