Review of Day of Resurrection (1980)

Moving picture, 156 minutes

Seen in 2016.

Bumbling spies release a bioweapon with 100% mortality. 800-some people, 1% of them women, survive uninfected in Antarctic research stations and submarines, until an earthquake threatens to wipe out the rest by triggering US and Soviet auto-retaliation systems.

Apocalypse, viral and nuclear. A few scenes are quite good, including the one where Captain Nevsky explains why his government aimed a nuke at Palmer Base: “The United States had no particular monopoly on idiots.” It is lovely to see George Kennedy as he appeared in The Naked Gun (1988), going for gravitas. The virus of the story, originally written in the 1960s, is prefigurative of the HIV epidemic: Like AIDS, first recognized in 1981, MM88 expresses as a variety of normally non-lethal infectious diseases and makes them deadly. The cosmopolitan aspect is reasonably well done, until Yoshizumi idiotically walks from Washington D.C. to Graham Land instead of finding a boat, thus becoming a saviour figure.

Unfortunately the production does not have the budget it needs, and the script has some more bad ideas. Why does Noriko get a boat when Yoshizumi doesn’t? Why is literally no one naturally resistant to the virus? Why does nobody acknowledge the difference between a vaccine and a cure? Why does Yoshizumi report the vaccine to be a success after just a few hours? Why would ionizing radiation be the solution, beyond silly intuitive notions about cleansing through destruction? Yoshizumi couldn’t possibly predict the earthquake the way he does, and the whole nuclear plot should have been cut.

References here: 12 Monkeys (2015).

moving picture Japanese production fiction