Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Suspending disbelief

Until recently I'd never seen any of the 'Airport' movies. You might think that was a good thing. I'm beginning to believe it was.

Actually I haven't seen Airport '75 yet; it's running this weekend and I've set the HTPC to record.

The original cropped up a few weeks back and I watched it a week or two later. That's one of the nice things about the HTPC/PVR revolution. Just set it to record and it sits there on the hard disk until you're ready. So much easier than the bad old days of grubbing around for a spare videotape, to say nothing of making sure it was loaded and programmed for the right channel/time. Then labelling the tape so one could find it again; that or go through a pile of tapes looking for the right one. Though it was a mere quarter of a century ago the old way of doing things seems so antediluvian! And there we were, happier than a dog with two dicks, because we could actually record movies off TV!

It's about this time I can imagine you dusting off a walking frame for me!

Anyway, I thoroughly agreed with the reviewer who named Airport (made in 1969) as the 'Best movie of 1944'!. A pot boiler if ever I saw one. Actually that's a trifle unfair, it was quite watchable if somewhat predictable. Now I can say I've seen it without ever feeling the need to see it again.

Thus to 'The Concorde... Airport '79'[^]. An unforgettable two hours of comedy. I understand, incidentally, that one was not supposed to refer to the real Concorde as 'The Concorde' but simply as 'Concorde'.

If the real Concorde had been able to pull off all the stunts we see in the movie it'd be one formidable plane, if somewhat uncomfortable for the passengers. I laughed out loud at the scene where the pilots put their oxygen masks on, open the cockpit window and fire a starting pistol out to distract the heat seeking missile!

If you haven't seen the movie, this is toward the start; just after they've departed from Washington DC. We, the audience, are asked to believe that after being pursued by a missile, which they handily defeat, they continue across the Atlantic to France as though nothing had happened. No obnoxious passenger loudly demanding to know what happened. More to the point, no FAA order to return to Washington and no military escort. Or perhaps I'm just seeing 1979 from a 2008 perspective? I think not. If this had happened in real life I'm sure all of the above would have happened, even in the innocent days of 1979.

So they fly across the Atlantic and are attacked by a Phantom Jet! Four missiles plus ack ack. More aerial gyrations. A supposedly nail-biting scene where they hurtle down the runway at landing and stop with the nose wheel a couple of metres short of the end of the runway.

Does the French equivalent of the FAA impound the plane, the pilots and the passengers? Does the US government get involved in an investigation into the origins of this mysterious Phantom, handily crashed into an ocean? No sir, they do not! An evening of repairs and the plane is ready to resume flight the next morning, to finish it's journey to Moscow! And every single passenger gets back on! No close ups of passengers agonising over whether to board.

Now during the repair phase one of the mechanics put some kind of booby trap on the cargo door. As they're taxiing out for the Moscow departure this mechanic, for reasons I didn't quite catch, starts running around and ends up on the runway with the Concorde bearing down on him during it's takeoff. I have to admit that by this point I was beyond caring what motivated any of the plot and I couldn't be bothered going back to try and catch up. Sufficient that he ducks and runs across just in front of the landing gear as Concorde leaves the ground!

By this time I'm just about going through the roof wondering at the total lack of curiousity shown by everyone involved (up on the screen). Let's see. On a single flight the crew and passengers have been involved in a near miss with a heat seeking missile AND almost been shot down by a Phantom. On the very next take off someone runs in front of the plane as it's taking off. And no one stops to wonder if there's something strange happening!

After that the sight of the plane making a crash landing on an Alpine slope down a ski run was quite incapable of surprising me!

Interesting movie!

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