Considering our class has gone through five out of the seven movies we will watch this semester, I thought it was appropriate to write a blog about a trend I’ve seen in several movies. It’s something that didn’t really come to my attention until we saw The Happening. This movie, along with Children of Men, and The Day After Tomorrow all share the common thread of having an “off” or unusual character act as a source of wisdom even as the other characters look to them a bit skeptically. These characters I’m referring to are the hippies from The Happening, the hippie (Michael Caine) from Children of Men, and the homeless man from The Day After Tomorrow. All of these characters are not dressed very well, some more so than others, and all of them are quite “colorful” or a little crazy. There’s the people shouting about packing hotdogs and mustard, the guy who lives in the woods and wants weed legalized, and the man who talks to his dog and steals hotdogs (weird hotdog coincidence). Yet all of them contribute a nugget of wisdom for the protagonist(s). In The Happening, they’re the ones who suggest plants could be killing off humans. Caine gives Clive Owen’s character consoling advice several times in Children of Men. And to a lesser degree, the homeless man points out a leaking manhole before the flood and is smart enough to stay in the library when most everyone else leaves.
The similarities I saw reminded me of other natural disaster movies we haven’t watched in class. One of these is 2012. Here Woody Harrelson’s character is (can you guess?) a hippie, doing a radio program in Yellowstone national park. He warns John Cusack that it isn’t safe in the park while wearing plaid and laughing like a crazy person. While Cusack initially thinks he is crazy and takes the guys last beer, it’s Harrelson’s map that Cusack needs. Harrelson’s predictions are also true as a volcano erupts at Yellow Stone, which only starts a chain reaction of further special effects…I mean disasters.
Some may be wondering what the point of this blog is, and I wonder what the point of having these characters frequent disaster movies. Are the filmmakers and writers suggesting people need to be a little crazy to believe in natural disasters? Are they poking fun at the hippie stereotype still clinging to environmentalists? Is it lazy writing, and people are just borrowing ideas from other films to slide into their own? Also, why does it seem to be that most of these people die in the end? Caine is shot in Children of Men. The hippie couple in The Happening shoot themselves, and Harrelson is killed by the volcano in 2012. Only the homeless man survives in the examples I’ve given. Maybe he survived because he wasn’t a hippie.