Dante's Peak

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Dante's Peak
Dantes peak ver2.jpg
Film poster for Dante's Peak
Directed by Roger Donaldson
Produced by Gale Anne Hurd
Joseph Singer
Written by Leslie Bohem
Starring
Music by James Newton Howard
John Frizzell
Cinematography Andrzej Bartkowiak
Edited by
Production
company
Pacific Western Productions
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • February 7, 1997 (1997-02-07)
Running time
109 minutes
Language English
Budget $116 million[1]
Box office $178,127,760[1]

Dante's Peak is a 1997 American epic disaster adventure film directed by Roger Donaldson, and starring Pierce Brosnan, Linda Hamilton, Charles Hallahan, Elizabeth Hoffman, Jamie Renée Smith, Jeremy Foley, and Grant Heslov. Set in the fictional town of Dante's Peak, the town must survive the volcano and its dangers. A Universal Pictures and Pacific Western production, it was released on February 7, 1997.

Plot[edit]

Dr. Harry Dalton, a volcanologist of the United States Geological Survey, and his partner Marianne, studying volcanic activity in Colombia, are caught when the volcano erupts. As they attempt to evacuate, Marianne is killed by a piece of falling debris, leaving Harry remorseful about her death, knowing it could have been prevented if they had fled at earlier signs of potential activity.

Four years later, Harry is assigned by his boss Dr. Paul Dreyfus to investigate seismic activity at Dante's Peak, Washington, a small town situated near a dormant stratovolcano in the Cascades. Harry arrives at Dante's Peak as the town is celebrating its founding, and meets the town's mayor, Rachel Wando, and her two children. Rachel offers to take Harry up the mountain to take readings while also taking her children, Graham and Lauren, to meet their grandmother Ruth who lives there. Harry spots dead wildlife and catches the children before they swim in a hot spring, finding two bathers dead in it; a sudden influx of heat had turned the spring into a cauldron, boiling them alive. Harry alerts Paul to signs that indicate volcanic activity and tells him to bring a team to study the mountain further. The team arrives with additional equipment, but their readings do not corroborate Harry's fears and suggest there is little concern. Regardless, Harry continues to try to convince Rachel to prepare the town for something drastic, while falling into a budding relationship with her.

A week passes without any signs of volcanic activity and Paul orders the team to pack up. Harry goes to say goodbye to Rachel for the evening, but when he goes to get a glass of water, finds the water supply contaminated with volcanic residue, confirming his fears. This evidence is sufficient for Paul, and plans are made to evacuate the town. Before they can conduct an orderly evacuation, the volcano erupts and earthquakes rock the town, sending the citizens into a panic as they try to flee. Harry stays with Rachel to retrieve her children, but find that they have left to get Ruth, who refused to leave her cabin, and follow behind them. Despite mass panic and the collapse of an elevated road, nearly all of Dante's Peak's residents escape. They reach Ruth and the children just as lava hits the cabin and engulfs their vehicles. They take a boat across a lake to escape the lava flow, but find the lake's waters have become acidic and are eating away at the boat. Ruth jumps in the water to make sure the boat gets to the opposite side, suffering burns on her body. Though they are able to carry her away from the lava, Ruth knows she will not make it and insists they leave her behind. They bid a tearful departure and make their way to a nearby ranger station and take its truck to continue down the mountain.

Meanwhile, the National Guard team arrives to help evacuate the remainder of town and escort the geology team out. They attempt to cross a bridge as a lahar engulfs it, and Paul is thrown into the river to his death when the bridge is washed away. The remaining team escapes and tries to make contact with Harry, but are unable to do so and fear that he is dead.

Harry, Rachel, and the children make it safely back to town which is damaged and abandoned. Harry discovers their geologic computers predicting an immediate final pyroclastic eruption that will destroy the town, grabs a NASA satellite beacon, and drives toward the local, abandoned mine. The volcano's violent explosion spreads out toward the town obliterating everything in its path just as they safely crash into the mineshaft. When Harry goes back to get the beacon, he is trapped in the truck, suffering a broken arm as the mineshaft collapses around him, but he activates the beacon.

Days later, after the eruption, Harry's team notices the activated distress beacon indicating he may have survived. Rescue crews free Harry, Rachel, and the children. They are flown out by helicopter, looking back at the remains of the town and the remains of the collapsed volcano.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film was shot on location in Wallace, Idaho, with a large hill just southeast of the town digitally altered to look like a volcano. Many scenes involving townspeople, including the initial award ceremony, the pioneer days festival, and the gymnasium scene were shot using the actual citizens of Wallace as extras. Many of the disaster evacuation scenes that did not involve stunts and other dangerous moments also featured citizens of Wallace; dangerous stunts were filmed using Hollywood extras. Mount St. Helens also makes an appearance at the very end of the movie; during the start of the closing credit crawl, the scene shows an image of a destroyed Dante's Peak community with the camera shot moving out to show a wider scene of disaster, and then showing what remains of the volcano itself. The volcano that remains is actually an image of Mount St. Helens taken from news footage just after the May 18, 1980, eruption.[citation needed]

Exteriors shots of the Point Dume Post Office, 29160 Heathercliff Rd, Malibu, CA were used as the USGS's David A. Johnston Cascades Volcano Observatory headquarters in Vancouver, Washington. The facility was named in honor of David A. Johnston, a young scientist who had precisely predicted the volatility of the May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens eruption, who perished during the event.[2]

A brief scene was actually shot inside the crater of Washington State's Mount St. Helens. It is the scene where a scientist gets caught in a rock slide and breaks his leg while climbing down inside the crater to repair a malfunctioning piece of scientific equipment. The giveaway of this shot is a brief appearance by Mount Adams, a dormant 12,776-foot (3,894 m)-high peak 35 miles (56 km) east of Mount St. Helens, above the crater rim as the view focuses on the scientists. The scene was actually filmed on the tarmac of Van Nuys Airport while the Mount Adams image was green screened.

Extensive special effects surrounding certain aspects of the film such as the lava and pyroclastic flows, were created by Digital Domain, Banned from the Ranch Entertainment and CIS Hollywood.[3] The computer-generated imagery was mostly coordinated and supervised by Patrick McClung, Roy Arbogast, Lori J. Nelson, Richard Stutsman and Dean Miller.[3] Although the film uses considerable amounts of CGI, the volcanic ash in the film was created using finely shredded newspapers. Between visuals, miniatures, and animation, over 300 technicians were directly involved in the production aspects of the special effects.[3] Despite the complexity of its visual effects, Dante's Peak was not nominated for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects that year, as it faced stiff competition from Titanic, The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Starship Troopers.

Locations[edit]

Music[edit]

Dante's Peak: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by John Frizzell & James Newton Howard
Released February 4, 1997 (1997-02-04)
Label Varese Sarabande

The original score was co-composed by John Frizzell and James Newton Howard. Howard wrote the main theme (heard during the opening titles) and a number of cues, while Frizzell wrote the bulk of the score.

30 minutes of the score was released by Varese Sarabande; the short album length being due to high orchestra fees at the time of release. An expanded bootleg exists which contains almost the entire score.

The contents of the CD release can also be found on the region 1 DVD, on an alternate audio track during the 'Creating a Volcano' documentary.

The "Main Titles" cue is also featured on Varese's "The Towering Inferno and Other Disaster Classics" compilation album.

Dante's Peak: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
No. Title Length
1. "Main Titles"   5:30
2. "The Close Call"   1:49
3. "Trapped in the Crater"   5:03
4. "On the Porch"   2:31
5. "The Evacuation Begins"   4:12
6. "The Helicopter Crash"   1:28
7. "Escaping the Burning House"   2:32
8. "Sinking on Acid Lake"   2:37
9. "Stuck in the Lava"   1:44
10. "The Rescue"   3:05
Total length:
30:22

Reception[edit]

The film debuted at #2 behind the special edition re-release of Star Wars with $18 million in its opening weekend.[5] It went on to earn $178 million worldwide.[1]

Despite having wider financial success and being slightly more scientifically accurate than Volcano, Dante's Peak opened to more unfavorable reviews than its rival: Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 27% rating based on 26 reviews,[6] compared to a 44% rating from 39 reviews, for Volcano.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]