It could well be a hot contender for the Macquarie Dictionary’s word of the year for 2019, keeping in a recent tradition with recent winners which were actually two words – last year’s omnipresent ‘Me Too’ and before that the very hard to come at ‘Milkshake Duck’, preceded by the globally popular ‘Fake News’. So what I am talking about? ‘Cli-Fi’ that is, and for the uninitiated that spells ‘Climate Fiction’.
Yes, it’s the relatively modern day genre of film and literature that deals with climate change and global warming often driven by a message that we need to change the world. You might also say that most of the environmental comment that comes out of the mouth of One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts is also ‘climate fiction’ but that’s another story.
Whilst there’s a growing number of contemporary novels that deal with the perils of climate change, it’s film that perhaps presents the greatest opportunity to put the scare up an often apathetic population. Not that the climate disaster movie is anything new. As early as the 1950s director Irwin Allen could see the box office appeal of combining science with global catastrophe. One of his earliest efforts was a documentary based on the award-winning book by Rachel L. Carson entitled The Sea Around Us, in which the author warned that the ‘frigid top of the world is very clearly warming up.’ That was non-fiction of course but he soon followed with a string of fictional epics such as Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea in which the Earth is threatened by a burning Van Allen Radiation Belt.
In 1995, one of the most expensive movies ever made, Waterworld presented a post-apocalyptic scenario in which the polar ice caps have melted and most of the planet is under water. A number of humans have survived and a few, like the lead actor Kevin Costner, have developed gills in an amazing speed up of evolutionary science. Costing a whopping $175 million at the time, the movie was panned by most of the critics and generally considered a flop but almost 25 years later it has achieved a newfound relevance – particularly if you are a citizen of some of the low lying South Pacific islands.
With a growing worldwide acceptance that climate change is real, both amongst politicians and the public, the time is certainly prime for a flood or Cli-Fi movies. With the technical advantage of today’s sophisticated CGI, filmmakers should be able to recreate any kind of weather-driven disaster for considerably less than it took the makers of the ill-fated Waterworld. Australia, which is currently plagued by drought and debate of over carbon emissions could well be at the forefront of this new sub-genre of the ever popular disaster movie.
Let’s start the onslaught with a kind of Mad Max Afloat in which dune buggies and other ramshackle vehicles are replaced with ferocious looking jet skis and other feral aqua-craft combing the oceans in search of some long abandoned deserted oil tanker. The enemy in question would be a diehard group of climate deniers, holed up at the very top of the Centrepoint Tower, convinced that the rising waters will soon subside and the city will eventually emerge from its watery grave. In the meantime, they have commandeered an old Australian navy submarine intent on annihilating every one of the sea bound Mad Max crew. The commander bears an uncanny resemblance to a certain One Nation senator.
Hey, the possibilities are endless. Who needs an Elvis biopic shot in Queensland when the world is about to turn to dust or be consumed by the oceans?