Disaster movies are pulled from Japanese screens after tsunami

A woman in a luxury hotel at an Asian beach resort goes for a wander - it's an idyllic and beautiful setting but there is something ominous in the air. Suddenly, before she or the street vendors can get away to safety, a huge tsunami comes rolling towards them, sweeping up everything in its path.

Thus begins Clint Eastwood's recent film Hereafter. It is a spectacular and grim overture which inevitably has become very uncomfortable to watch for some audiences in the wake of last month's disasters.

Following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Hollywood studios have postponed the releases of several films featuring images of mass destruction, flooding or entrapment.

Hereafter (which had already been released) was quickly pulled from Japanese cinemas with Warner Bros conceding that certain scenes "were not appropriate".

Another movie held back was Sony's Battle: Los Angeles. In The New Yorker's words, this is "a quiet, uneventful chamber piece... in which almost nothing happens except that a humongous army of homicidal aliens splashes down off the coast of California, marches ashore, annihilates every human in sight, and sets about sucking up water from the face of the earth".

Japanese audiences will also have to wait to see Universal's Australian-made 3D adventure drama Sanctum, with James Cameron as executive producer, in which an underwater cave diving team end up stranded after a freak tropical storm.

It's easy to see why such films have been delayed or taken out of theatres.

Showing them now would be tasteless, insensitive - and a very bad idea from the point of view of potential box-office.

The film industry's focus has been more on revenue than on the sufferings of the Japanese people, as encapsulated in the reporting of trade paper The Hollywood Reporter last month in the immediate aftermath of the tsunami: "The good news is that theatrical exhibition continued in more or less reasonable fashion in those parts of Japan not affected by the earthquake."

One irony about the decision to shelve these films is that Japanese audiences have always savoured disaster movies.

Whether it's manga adaptations such as Akira(which starts with Tokyo being destroyed by a nuclear explosion), or Godzilla monster movies, or bloodcurdling yakuza movies, an apocalyptic undertow can be felt in almost every Japanese genre.

There is something paradoxical about Hollywood's attitude toward disaster movies. Such films are made because of audiences' desire to stare into the abyss. There's clearly a demand for them. Even so, the studios remain sensitive about offending audiences.

The disaster movie has moved relentlessly upmarket over the past 50 or 60 years, leaving the B-movie behind.

"I destroyed Washington, I destroyed the Golden Gate Bridge, I destroyed New York," special effects maestro Ray Harryhausen used to boast of the monsters he unleashed in B-movies like The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms and It Came From Beneath the Sea.

Now, disaster movies seem very realistic - which makes them all the harder to dismiss as fantasy.

Arts and Entertainment

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade

radio
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
I am flute: Azeem Ward and his now-famous instrument
music
Arts and Entertainment
A glass act: Dr Chris van Tulleken (left) and twin Xand get set for their drinking challenge
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
MIA perform at Lovebox 2014 in London Fields, Hackney

music
Arts and Entertainment
Finnish punk band PKN hope to enter Eurovision 2015 and raise awareness for Down's Syndrome

eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
William Shakespeare on the cover of John Gerard's The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes

books
Arts and Entertainment

Game of Thrones review
Arts and Entertainment
Grayson Perry dedicates his Essex home to Julie

Potter's attempt to create an Essex Taj Mahal was a lovely treat

tv
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the original Swedish version of the sci-fi TV drama ‘Real Humans’
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Keays-Byrne plays Immortan Joe, the terrifying gang leader, in the new film
filmActor who played Toecutter returns - but as a different villain in reboot
Arts and Entertainment
Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa in Mad Max: Fury Road
film
Arts and Entertainment
Jessica Hynes in W1A
tvReview: Perhaps the creators of W1A should lay off the copy and paste function spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Power play: Mitsuko Uchida in concert

classical
Arts and Entertainment
Dangerous liaisons: Dominic West, Jake Richard Siciliano, Maura Tierney and Leya Catlett in ‘The Affair’ – a contradictory drama but one which is sure to reel the viewers in
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Herring, pictured performing at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival two years ago
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
Music freak: Max Runham in the funfair band
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
film 'I felt under-used by Hollywood'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
    Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

    Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

    Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
    Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

    Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

    Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
    Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

    Join the tequila gold rush

    The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
    12 best statement wallpapers

    12 best statement wallpapers

    Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
    Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

    Paul Scholes column

    Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?