Earth versus the movies

Watching films can teach you a lot about braving the elements

When you’re out enjoying the great outdoors, you’re at the mercy of the weather. Take heed from these dramatic cinematic moments and don’t tempt fate when mother nature goes wild.

We’re all slightly obsessed with the weather. Even in our reasonably predictable region, a day of rain or fog is front page news, and we all love a freaky weather picture to post on social media. What the meteorologists say guides all our outdoor plans, so before you head to the mountains or the desert, or take to the sea, check out our handy list of movie-sourced weather tips to help you manage the elements.

Don’t mess with the ocean
As seen in…
The Perfect Storm (2000)

The forecast
The title says it all. When George Clooney, Marky Mark and their robust gang of woolly-sweatered, blue-collar guys’ guys come home from the sea with a disappointing haul, they know they’ll be forced to make one… last… trip before the season ends. Never mind that there’s an almighty squall brewing up: it’s a man’s responsibility to put fish on the table.
What we learn
If the Weather Channel warns that it’s getting blustery, even George Clooney shouldn’t persuade you into a sea voyage. Remember: The Arabian Gulf is fierce and she shouldn’t be messed with when she’s in a feisty mood.

Ensure your pets are safe
As seen in…
The Wizard of Oz (1939)

The forecast
Twisty. When a tornado comes to ravage her aunt and uncle’s remote Kansas farm, little Dorothy Gale’s first thought isn’t for her beloved relations. It’s for Toto, her permanently bemused cairn terrier. Of course, it all works out for the best when Toto uses his sniffing skills to track down a witch. Could Auntie Em have done that? Doubtful.
What we learn
In a crisis, it’s always handy to have a pet around. And not just dogs: birds can be used to deliver messages, hamsters can be hooked to a turbine, providing power during blackouts. Cats can be sent to forage for mice and other small rodents. And goldfish can provide hours of much-needed entertainment, or a handy after-dinner snack.

It’s always warm inside an animal
As seen in…
The Empire Strikes Back (1980)

The forecast
Snow on snow. When, on his morning rounds, Luke Skywalker is startled by a passing Wampa (we’ve all been there), it looks like curtains for the young Jedi. But luckily his best pal Han Solo has a cunning plan. Noticing that his trusty Tauntaun steed has keeled over in the cold, he slices open its belly and covers Luke inside the steaming gut. Yum.
What we learn
This is just one more reason to keep a pet around. We’re not sure how much protection you could really get from, say, a gerbil, but if there’s a larger animal kicking around – a great dane, a racehorse, perhaps some sort of endangered big cat – you’re in luck. Readers with large families are urged to purchase an elephant now, just in case.

Crazy weather makes for crazy people
As seen in…
The Wind (1928)

The forecast
Gale-force melodrama. When innocent East Coast girl Lillian Gish is sent to live on her cousin’s isolated ranch, she expects her biggest problem will be the constant (and we mean constant) wind that batters their desert shack. But it’s not long before the windswept neighbours start taking an unhealthy interest in this fresh-faced newcomer.
What we learn
Where there’s wild weather, there’s widespread weirdness. Who but a loony would choose to live in a place where the wind howls and the sand batters against the windows 365 days a year? On the plus side, though, the film reveals how particularly strong gusts can sweep away the evidence of a murder. So that’s handy.

Stay away from power lines
As seen in…
The Ice Storm (1997)

The forecast
Frosty. In Ang Lee’s masterful ’70s-set character piece, young Elijah Wood is disheartened by his parents’ misconduct, his erstwhile sort-of-girlfriend Christina Ricci’s waning interest and the fact that he lives in a land dominated by chipboard and tan flares. Out for a soulful late-night stroll following a bout of severe weather, he sits on the wrong bit of newly electrified highway guardrail.
What we learn
It’s pretty simple: electrical cables and bad weather are a dangerous combination. Of course, anyone who caught 2013’s The Selfish Giant knows that pylons and power stations are bad news all round, but it doesn’t hurt to have it reiterated.

Starvation is a choice if you have friends
As seen in…
Alive (1993)

The forecast
Chewy. When their plane goes down in the Andes, a Uruguayan rugby team – led, strangely, by Ethan Hawke – find themselves stranded in the ice, miles from rescue, with only a tin of chocolates and a box of wine to see them through. It’s not long before someone starts eyeing up the pile of frozen corpses stacked neatly by the back door…
What we learn
They say that in a bear attack, you don’t need to outrun the bear, just your slowest friend. The same principle applies here. We’re not suggesting that you start knocking off your pals for sustenance, but hey, if nature takes its course… Just remember, it’s what they would have wanted. You’re only honouring their sacrifice.

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