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
Music by James Newton Howard
John Frizzell
Cinematography Andrzej Bartkowiak
Edited by
Pacific Western Productions
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • February 7, 1997 (1997-02-07)
Running time
109 minutes
Language English
Budget $116 million[1]
Box office $178.1 million[1]

Dante's Peak is a 1997 American dramatic disaster thriller film directed by Roger Donaldson. Starring Pierce Brosnan, Linda Hamilton, Charles Hallahan, Elizabeth Hoffman, Jamie Renée Smith, Jeremy Foley and Grant Heslov, the film was set in the fictional town of Dante's Peak where in the town must survive the volcano's eruption and its dangers. It was released in February 7, 1997 under the production of Sony, Universal Pictures and Pacific Western.


Dr. Harry Dalton (Pierce Brosnan), a volcanologist of the United States Geological Survey, and his partner Marianne (Walker Brandt), are monitoring a volcano in Colombia, when it suddenly erupts. As they try to escape, Marianne is killed by a volcanic bomb. Harry mourns her death, believing it could have been prevented by evacuating sooner.

Four years later, Harry is assigned by his boss Dr. Paul Dreyfus (Charles Hallahan) to investigate seismic activity at Dante's Peak in Washington, a small town bordering a dormant stratovolcano of the same name in the Cascades. Harry arrives as the town is celebrating the anniversary of its foundation, and meets the town's mayor, Rachel Wando (Linda Hamilton), and her two children, Graham (Jeremy Foley) and Lauren (Jamie Renée Smith). Rachel offers to take Harry up the volcano while visiting her former mother in-law Ruth (Elizabeth Hoffman). There, they find dead wildlife and two bathers boiled to death in the hot springs. Believing the excessive heat is a result of volcanic activity, Harry asks Paul to bring a team to study the peak further. The team arrives with additional equipment, but they do not corroborate Harry's fears and suggest there is little concern. Regardless, Harry tries to convince Rachel to prepare the town for a possible disaster, 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. On his last evening with Rachel, the two notice that after Lauren asks for water, it has turned yellowish-brown and had a bad smell. They then drive to the town's water supply and discover it to be contaminated with volcanic residue. Harry tells Rachel that it was the same signs that Mount Pinatubo had shown before it erupted. They then drive back to the town and he shows the contaminated water to Paul, which convinces him that an eruption is imminent. The next day, gas readings and earthquakes increase dramatically, convincing his team that it's only a matter of time before the volcano erupts. While preparations are made to evacuate, the volcano suddenly erupts, sending the townspeople into full panic. As Paul and the team contact the National Guard for help, Harry and Rachel go after the children, who have gone to get Ruth.

Harry and Rachel reach Ruth's cabin just as a lava flow engulfs it, forcing them all to abandon their vehicles and cross a nearby lake via a motorboat. Close to the shore of the lake, the boat's engine fails, and they realize the lake has turned acidic as a result of sulfur-rich gases dissolving in the water, with the resultant sulfuric acid eating away the boat. Ruth willingly gets out of the boat to push it to shore, leaving her with severe chemical burns to which she later succumbs.

The next morning, the National Guard arrives and the town is evacuated. On the volcano, glaciers and snow starts to melt. It floods into the river, picking up boulders and trees, now becoming a lahar, as it overflows and collapses a nearby dam. The flood then heads towards the town and sweeps away the bridge leading out of it. The team made it across, but Paul is washed away in the flood. Meanwhile, Harry and the Wandos take a pickup truck from a ranger station and drive back to town. A lava flow blocks their path, but they eventually manage to get across it, rescuing Ruth's dog Ruffy, along the way.

Back in Dante's Peak, they find the town abandoned and covered in ash. Harry retrieves a distress radiobeacon from the motel his team used as a base, and finds out on a computer that the volcano is due for a final catastrophic eruption. With no time to escape, he and the Waldos drive into the town's abandoned mine just as the volcano violently and laterally explodes. The giant cloud blasts out of the volcano and quickly turns into pyroclastic flows, hurtling down the peak and destroying everything in its path: trees, houses and the town itself. The flow bears down on the town, as Harry manages to drive straight into the mine before the flow could engulf them. Elsewhere, Harry's team presumes him and the others dead as they view the eruption from a safe distance. Harry and the Waldos move deeper into the mine for safety, but he realizes he left the beacon inside the truck and goes to retrieve it. The mine caves in and he gets injured, but manages to activate the beacon.

Days after the eruption has ended, Harry's team notices the signal from the beacon and dispatches rescue teams. Harry and the Wandos are freed and flown out by helicopter. As the credits roll, the camera pans out over the obliterated town before turning to the volcano, now reduced to a menacing caldera resembling Mount St. Helens; ominous background music hints it will erupt again in the unknown future.



Principal Photography began on May 6, 1996. 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, California 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 and 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. Production was completed on August 31, 1996.

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 cellulose insulation manufactured by Regal Industries in Crothersville, Indiana. 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.



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, and Blu-ray 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


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]


  1. ^ a b c "Dante's Peak (1997) - Box Office Mojo". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  2. ^ Topinka, Lyn (2009-12-08). "Establishing the David A. Johnston Cascades Volcano Observatory". United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2010-04-03. 
  3. ^ a b c Dante's Peak (1997) - Cast and Credits - Yahoo! Movies
  4. ^ Dante's Peak at the Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for February 7-9, 1997 - Box Office Mojo". boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  6. ^ "Dante's Peak". rottentomatoes.com. 7 February 1997. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 
  7. ^ "Volcano". rottentomatoes.com. 25 April 1997. Retrieved 27 May 2015. 

External links[edit]