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DANTE’S PEAK Directed by Roger Donaldson RATING: B+

is located right next to a dormant

and a female lead, one of whom is

volcano. Volcanologist Harry Dalton

a single parent. (Hmm, wonder if

(played by Pierce Brosnan) is called

they’re going to hook up and form

in to investigate some unusual

a happy new family unit?)


seismic activity in the area, which

However, the movie really deliv-

Was this anyone else’s favourite

everyone expects to be benign. But

ers with its special effects, suspense

movie as a kid? For me it even

of course, it isn’t as benign as they

and action, and also with its scien-

overtook Jurassic Park at one point.

think, and the volcano becomes

tific accuracy, apparently. It also

(Though it just occurred to me that

slightly less dormant during the

has some great music, and Brosnan

many of this year’s freshers weren’t

movie. Linda Hamilton also stars

and Hamilton really do a good job

born yet when it was released...

as Rachel Wando, the town’s mayor.

with their roles, creating characters

holy christ). In my flat we bought

Because this was the first disas-

a projector in lieu of a TV, so that

ter movie I ever saw, I didn’t realise

If I was grading purely on nos-

we could watch movies on an entire

at the time how riddled with clichés

talgia & epicness value, Dante’s

wall: naturally, ’90s disaster mov-

it was: there’s the hero scientist

Peak would be a solid A+. But if I’m

ies were our first port of call. Dante’s

who tries to warn everybody of the

wearing my objective movie-re-

Peak is one that holds up well,

danger, and the evil forces of eco-

viewer hat, I’ll have to be honest

especially when you’re watching it

nomics & politics that attempt to

and give it a B+. However, it’s cer-

on a wall-sized screen. My

silence him; the hero also has some

tainly worth watching, and from a

god, the awesomeness.

demons from the past, so every-

directorial point of view it’s a real

The movie is set in the town of

body assumes his judgement to be

success for kiwi Roger Donaldson.

Dante’s Peak, Washington, which

clouded; and there’s both a male

that seem like real people.

Finkelstein, and Sara Roy, talk

The film was made over ten

about their upbringings (some

years, which one can definitely feel

within a Zionist community), and

in the two and a half hour cut (an

how they were disenfranchised and

alternate cut was shown at the NZ

came to share the Palestinian

International Film Festival in 2014),

cause. This provides a narrative of

which takes its time to linger on

sorts, but then there are interludes

the human aspects of the story,

of lasting landscape shots showing

sacrificing breadth for a narrower

bombed-out chaos, close-ups of

depth. As such, Cordery appropri-

the dissident art that sprawls over

ately claims that it is “a film” about


Israel’s gigantic concrete walls, and

Palestine, rather than “the film”. No

animated vignettes which director

doubt some will accuse her of

Sarah Cordery uses creatively to

making “a propaganda film”, but I

Directed by Sarah Cordery RATING: A

give us more perspective on these

suspect she will not mind.


four than mere faces and words can

If you are one of those under-

provide. Together with a timeline

grads who hears about Israel and

that jumps back and forth through-

Palestine in the news and ignores

An intensely moving doco about

Holocaust is now being repeated

out the last hundred years, it re-

it because you don’t know anything

the Palestinian struggle, but also

by the state of Israel against

sembles more a notebook (hence

about it you’re looking to watch

much more than that.

Palestinian civilians. The archival

the title) than a cohesive begin-

something light hearted, it would

footage of both make for very

ning-middle-end story, and all of

definitely behoove you to watch

raw viewing.

this moves the film from the doc-

this one. It’s not exactly a cheery

When the film begins by interviewing the most vocal members of a pro-Israel protest, you know it

The format and genre of the film

umentary genre into something

Saturday night flick, but it’s import-

isn’t going to pull any punches. It

are difficult to pin down. Four main

else entirely; something sort of

ant, and it won’t be easily forgotten.

tackles all the difficult issues head-

interviewees, or characters, Noam

bent-sideways, twisted, clutching

first, with the thesis that the

Chomsky, Robert Fisk, Norman

and probing into your soul.

30 May | 2016


Critic Issue 13, 2016  
Critic Issue 13, 2016