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Deep Impact

February 6, 2016

DILuke 17.20 ‘… the kingdom of God is among you’

Deep Impact is a 1998 Hollywood disaster movie, starring Robert Duvall and Morgan Freeman. A meteorite is on target for what is described as ‘an extinction level event’ by colliding with the earth. It does not spoil the story to say that millions die but that many survive. As in most disaster movies, the focus is on ordinary characters and their relationships in the impossibly tense story. Even in the face of disaster, people have to go about their daily lives. Comforting routines sometimes provide even more comfort when everything is falling apart. Most important, the very fact of impending disaster provides people with the opportunity to be transformed in the present. Dwelling on future catastrophic change always affects the ethics and relationships of right now.

When Jesus talks about the coming kingdom of God, it is not possible to separate the future from the present. The urgency of the kingdom applies right now. The choices have to be made today. Whether you are to die or to be spared, reconciliation and sacrifice for others must not be delayed.

In the movie, a character deliberately gives up her guaranteed place of safety from the disaster to a woman and child. A young woman cares more about being reconciled with her father than surviving.

The deep impact of the kingdom of God is not to be avoided or kicked into touch; it is to be embraced in our choices now as though Christ has come in glory. Stephen Conway in Reflections for Daily Prayer 2013-4 p.200

 Journalist Jenny Lerner is assigned to look into the background of Secretary Alan Rittenhouse who abruptly resigned from government citing his wife’s ill health. She learns from his secretary that Rittenhouse was having an affair with someone named Ellie but when she confronts him, his strange reaction leads her to reconsider her story. In fact, a comet, discovered the previous year by high school student Leo Biederman and astronomer Dr. Marcus Wolf, is on a collision course with the Earth, an Extinction Level Event. A joint US-Russian team is sent to destroy the comet but should it fail, special measures are to be put in place to secure the future of mankind. As the space mission progresses, many individuals deal with their fears and ponder their future.

A spaceship aptly called the Messiah is to come to the rescue by blowing up the comet – mechanical moles will be used to drill 100 meters into the comet, each one carrying a 5000 kiloton nuclear warhead.

Captain Tanner is aptly nicknamed of Fish (his given name, Spurgeon) – ichthus anybody?

There is a lottery system that decides who will enter the shelters, based on age and Social Security number. This is a modern version of blood on the door post from the Exodus story.

After the young couple, Sarah and Leo, marry they have to assume responsibility for Sarah’s baby sister.  Without pushing the symbolism too hard they are a young man, his virgin bride and her Father’s child.

Watch for the number of babies and toddlers.  There is a powerful emphasis on the security of future generations.

What would you do if you knew that the world was coming to an end? Would you get married? Would you try to redeem the last few hours that you had by making amends for all the wrongs that you have committed? Would you try to run for the hills and hope you will survive? Or would you consider suicide? Perhaps you would gather your family together to share your last moments on Earth together; telling each other how much you really love them and wish things were different. These are just some of the questions that Mimi Leder, the director, tries to elucidate in this movie.

Deep Impact‘s biggest “impact” is on the heart! Deep… shows you the family/loved-one loss that Titanic failed to show. Here, husbands and wives who are developed in the film, are torn apart or simply die together, in a completely helpless situation.

It was prescient to have a black president. It was interesting to see the twin towers of the World Trade Centre destroyed 3 years too early. Was the ruined U.S. Capitol building at the end meant to be reminiscent of Hiroshima’s iconic bombed out building with its dome?

It’s well worth watching the ‘extras’.

According to NASA, in a 1992 report known as the Space Guard Study, “Impacts by Earth-approaching asteroids and comets” (of this magnitude) are a real possibility; although they are unlikely to do so anytime soon. However, they did launch a satellite, in 1996, to meet up with an asteroid, by the name of EROS, in a project known as NEAR (Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous). “Deep Impact” vividly shows us what could happen if such an event transpired.

An actual giant object from space did once strike the general area of the Eastern Seaboard where “Biederman” impacted in the film. Hitting the Norfolk, Virginia vicinity about 35 million years ago, it created the huge, now-buried Chesapeake Bay impact crater.

When Jenny Lerner is looking up “ELE” on the Internet, the ad banners on the right-hand side of the screen foreshadow the tidal wave at the end of the film: “The Wave of the Future”, “You’ve got some ocean coming”.

Spurgeon Tanner: [about the Wolf comet] Now the outgassing has created a vent a half mile wide and at least two miles deep. Comet gets closer to the sun; sun melts the ice, ice turns to steam. We get a big hole, okay? So, how many nukes do we have left in the back?

Mikhail Tulchinsky: Four.

Spurgeon Tanner: Okay. If we can get the remaining bombs in that vent, there shouldn’t be anything left of that comet bigger than a suitcase. Now, we can’t do anything about the little one, but you know… it just might give them a chance. Now, without the arming codes, we’re going to have to wait to set the bomb timers until we get closer to Earth, to raise Houston.

Mikhail Tulchinsky: We may not have enough life support left to get back into the cargo bay for the nukes. Much less to go down to the comet.

Mark Simon: We sure as hell don’t have enough propellant left in the Messiah to manoeuvre with. How are we supposed to get back off the surface once we’ve… once we’ve gotten down there? [Fish is silent, and everyone’s expression changes knowingly]

Orin Monash: We don’t.

Andrea Baker: [smiles briefly] Well, look on the bright side. We’ll all have high schools named after us.

[last lines] President Beck: We watched as the bombs shattered the second comet into a million pieces of ice and rock that burned harmlessly in our atmosphere and lit up the sky for an hour. Still, we were left with the devastation of the first. The waters reached as far inland as the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. It washed away farms and towns, forests and skyscrapers. But, the water receded. The wave hit Europe and Africa too. Millions were lost, and countless more left homeless. But the waters receded. Cities fall, but they are rebuilt. And heroes die, but they are remembered. We honour them with every brick we lay, with every field we sow, With every child we comfort, and then teach to rejoice in what we have been re-given. Our planet. Our home. So now, let us begin.

Jenny Lerner: When I was 11, I stole $32 from your wallet.

Jason Lerner: When you were a baby I once dropped you on your head.

Alan Rittenhouse: I know you’re just a reporter, but you used to be a person, right?

President Beck: We always thought the deadline for public knowledge was the publication of next year’s budget since we’ve spent more money than we can account for. That won’t happen for two weeks. I don’t suppose I could prevail upon you to wait two weeks in the name of national security?

Jenny Lerner: Two weeks? There’s no such thing as two weeks in the news business.

Jason: You know you’re gonna have a lot more sex than anyone else in our year. [the whole crowd start shouting and applauding]

Leo Biederman: Really?

Mike Perry: Thank you for your sexual insight, Mr. Thurman. You can sit down now.

Jason: Famous people always get sex, Mr. Perry. That’s the main reason it’s good to be famous.

President Beck: Life will go on, we will prevail.

Spurgeon Tanner: [reading to Oren Monash, blinded and strapped to a bunk in the spacecraft] Well, let’s get started. Moby Dick. Chapter One. Call me Ishmael…

Oren Monash: Fish. Why the hell do they call you FISH?

Spurgeon Tanner: Well, Spurgeon… Sturgeon… FISH. Took about 15 minutes my first day at the Naval Academy.

[President Beck & Jenny are discussing the upcoming news conference about the comet] Jenny Lerner: I want exclusivity.

President Beck: Now listen, young lady. This is a presidential favour. I’m letting you go because I don’t want another headache. And I’m trusting you because I know what this can do for your career. Now, it may seem like we have each other over the same barrel but it just seems that way.

Jenny Lerner: I want…

President Beck: You want?

Jenny Lerner: May I… May I have the first question?

President Beck: I’ll see you Tuesday, Miss Lerner.

Leo Biederman: [to his parents] I have to go back for Sarah.

Jenny Lerner: We know everything.

Alan Rittenhouse: Nobody knows everything.

Robin Lerner: [to Jenny about wedding] Jason says “Lie lie lie lie, til death do us part” blah blah blah. And she says yes, and he says yes and it’s kissie kissie kissie and congratulations. [deep sigh] Jenny, you now have a stepmother who is two years older than you.

Morten Entrekin: People knew about the Manhattan Project, you know, and they kept it a secret.

Jenny Lerner: That was just the creation of the atom bomb. [uncomfortable chuckle]

Jenny Lerner: [about Rittenhouse] Biggest story in history? What an ego.

Spurgeon Tanner: We don’t have time to talk, Houston. There’s nothing we can do about the smaller one, but… we do have a plan. We need the arming codes for the last four nukes.

Otis Hefter: Arming codes? What the hell for?

Spurgeon Tanner: Mitch, we can do or we can teach. What’s your pleasure?

Otis Hefter: [sighs, and shouts to his people] Get the arming codes! Get the God-damn codes!

Patricia Ruiz: I was with the secretary since he’s been governor of Connecticut. I came to Washington with him. I moved here because I was dedicated to his career. I trusted the man and then he fucked me.

Jenny Lerner: He what?

Patricia Ruiz: No, I didn’t have sex with him. I should say *I* didn’t have sex with him, but somebody sure did.

Chloe: Jenny, I know that you hate me. I know that you have terrible things that you want to say to me. You have to get over it. Life goes on.

Jenny Lerner: Life goes on? Okay. [Jenny laughs]

Jason Lerner: What’s so funny?

Jenny Lerner: Life… We’ll see.

Jason Lerner: What’s so funny about “life goes on”? Life going on? I don’t think it’s funny life that goes on.

[Gus Partanza is blasted into space by the comet’s out-gassing] Andrea Baker: Oh, God, we’re losing one. He’s got escape velocity. 1,000 feet and climbing. [Gus screams]

Spurgeon Tanner: Mark, Mikhail, get the hell out of there!

Leo Biederman: I talked to Civil defense. They said if you and I got married we’d be family, and I could get you in.

Sarah Hotchner: What about my parents? They’re not your family. I don’t want to go without my parents.

Leo Biederman: I’m the famous Leo Beiderman, and I haven’t used my fame for anything, but I got them to let your family go, too. This is your only chance to survive.

Jenny Lerner: You’re too late. I already took care of everything.

Jason Lerner: Come. Inside the car. You’re getting sick. Please. I want to talk to you. Please, come.

Jenny Lerner: I don’t give a shit. Go home and tell it to Chloe.

Jason Lerner: I can’t. She left me. She’s with her mother. They both got scared. Come. I want to talk to you. I need you.

Jenny Lerner: How does it feel? I feel like an orphan.

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