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 Pierce Brosnan
Linda Hamilton
Charles Hallahan
Elizabeth Hoffman
Jamie Renée Smith
Jeremy Foley
Grant Heslov
Music by James Newton Howard
John Frizzell
Cinematography Andrzej Bartkowiak
Editing by Conrad Buff IV
Tina Hirsch
Howard E. Smith
Studio Pacific Western Productions
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • February 7, 1997 (1997-02-07)
Running time 109 min.
Language English
Budget $116 million
Box office $178,127,760

Dante's Peak is a 1997 American 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, and rated PG-13.


Dr. Harry Dalton, a volcanologist of the United States Geological Survey, and his partner Marianne attempt to escape an erupting volcano in Colombia. While trying to escape the ash and falling debris, a piece of debris pierces through the roof of Harry's truck and lands on Marianne's head, killing her.

Four years later, Harry is sent by his boss Dr. Paul Dreyfus to investigate volcanic activity in the town of Dante's Peak, Washington, situated beside a dormant stratovolcano within the Northern Cascades. Harry arrives in town and meets Mayor Rachel Wando who has two children, Graham and Lauren. Before Rachel can show him the lake, they go to drop off the children to Rachel's ex-husband's mother Ruth who lives on the mountain. Ruth suggests that they all go swim in the Twonset Hot Springs. Harry notices that the lake's acidity is somewhat high, trees are dying and they discover 2 dead squirrels. Graham attempts to jump into the springs when Harry stops him, noticing two bodies having been boiled to death by the water. Harry knows this is highly abnormal and, worried about the volcanic activity in the mountain, requests Rachel to call a town meeting and inform Paul of the situation.

While Harry is advising putting the town on alert, Paul shows up and stops him by telling him that he is overreacting and that for now they will just observe, giving the example of another town in Washington state that they thought would be destroyed by an eruption. After Paul called the town on alert and evacuated it, nothing happened. The scare caused a severe lack of tourism in the town and it nearly went bankrupt as a result. This convinces the city council to avoid calling an alert, although Harry insists that Paul is making a mistake; however Harry's warnings fall on deaf ears. While Paul and his team are setting up and monitoring the volcano, Harry and Rachel become close. After a week and no major volcanic activity, Paul decides they can monitor the volcano back home and tells everyone to pack up.

Harry goes to say goodbye to Rachel, they almost kiss, passionately, but Lauren wakes up stating that she needs a glass of water. Rachel goes to get some water and points out that there's something wrong with the strange-smelling water and Harry discovers by visiting the main water supply that the volcanic activity has leached sulfur dioxide into the water. Harry shows this to Paul and they all then realize it is only a matter of time before the volcano erupts.

While informing the town's residents of the evacuation plans, an earthquake strikes Dante's Peak as the volcano erupts violently, both of which cause mass and widespread panic. While trying to get to Rachel's children, they drive through the town as it is being destroyed by earthquakes, with panicked evacuees trying to leave.

Arriving at Rachel's house, they find the children missing. When they reach the dining table, Rachel finds a letter left by the children that says that they went up the mountain to get Ruth, who previously refused to leave her home. After Rachel and Harry reach Ruth's house and find the children, a lava flow burns Ruth's house, forcing them to the lake. The lake, which has been turned to acid, begins eating away at the bottom of the boat and its propeller. They are almost at the other side when the propeller gets eaten away completely. Harry wraps his arm in his jacket to paddle but they are sinking too fast. Trying to save everyone, Ruth jumps in the shallow part of the lake and pulls the boat to the dock, and her legs are seriously burned. Ruth dies due to the shock and trauma yet makes peace with Rachel, dying on the mountain.

With everybody out of town, Paul and the team evacuate with the National Guard but the river has been inundated by a lahar, a combination of the volcano's melting ice and the local dam breaking. The team gets through safely in Humvees, but Paul, driving a Dodge Ram Van, gets stuck on the bridge which is washed away by the lahar. After finding a truck at a ranger station, Harry, Rachel, and the children make it back into town as the volcano violently and laterally explodes and spews ash high into the atmosphere. The weight of the ash is so great, that part of the ash cloud collapses and forms a pyroclastic flow which races down the mountain, destroying everything in its path, including the town of Dante's Peak itself. Harry drives the truck into an abandoned mine (which had been Graham's clubhouse) just in time to escape the pyroclastic cloud.

Harry finds a beacon designed by NASA that will help his team locate and rescue them. He tells Rachel and the kids he will be back; he reassures everyone that when they escape, he will take them deep sea fishing. As he returns the truck to activate the beacon, the mine collapses, separating him from Rachel and the children. Despite a broken arm, Harry activates the beacon while the truck is crushed by the weight of the debris.

Eventually, they are all rescued and reunited with Harry, reiterating his promise to take them deep sea fishing. As the helicopter carrying Harry and the Wando family flies off, the camera moves over the ruined town and swerves to the Mount St. Helens-like crater where the top of the volcano used to be.



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, eruption of Mount St. Helens, and perished during the event.[1]

A brief scene in the movie was actually shot inside the crater of Washington State's Mount St. Helens. Specifically, it is the scene where one of the scientists gets caught in a rockslide and breaks his leg while trying to climb down to repair a malfunctioning piece of scientific equipment inside the crater of the volcano. 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, just above the crater rim as the view tightens in on the scientists.

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.[2] The computer-generated imagery was mostly coordinated and supervised by Patrick McClung, Roy Arbogast, Lori J. Nelson, Richard Stutsman and Dean Miller.[2] Despite a heavy use of CGI, the volcanic ash in the film was actually really finely shredded newspapers. Between visuals, miniatures, and animation, over 300 technicians were directly involved in the production aspects of the special effects.[2] 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.



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:


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

Despite having wider financial success and being slightly more scientifically accurate than Volcano, Dante's Peak opened to more unfavorable reviews than its rival, and holds a 27 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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