Movie review: “Flood”

Flood (2007) is a disaster movie set in Scotland and England. The film begins with a a massive storm surge that strikes the pretty estuary town of Wick in north-eastern Scotland, completing flooding the entire town.

This flood has been generated by a devastating storm moving around the North Sea. The Met Office, anxiously doing their calculations, estimates that the storm will dissipate northwards. It doesn’t. Instead, it begins to head south between the UK and mainland Europe, causing severe weather patterns all along its route.

Meanwhile, a meteorologoist Leonard Morrison (played by Tom Courtenay) has been doing his own calculations. He predicts that the dramatically rising storm surge will travel into the Thames Estuary, where it will coincide with the spring tide, to cause a huge wall of water that will flood the whole of central London.

His estranged son Rob (played by Robert Carlyle), a marine engineer who had designed the Thames flood barrier, disagrees with Leonard’s predictions. He believes firmly that the barrier will hold. His ex-wife Sam (Jessalyn Gilsig) happens to be the Director of Barrier Operations, and begins to listen to Leonard.

Meanwhile, a crisis control centre known as COBRA has been set up somewhere in central London. It is headed by Patricia Nash (played by Joanne Whalley); her two teenage daughters are somewhere in the city, and she is emotionally torn between the fears of a mother for her children and the desire to rush to their aid, and the responsibility of keeping a clear head so that she can make some very difficult decisions that will either save or kill countless citizens. She has to ensure close collaboration between the Emergency Services, the Police, the Fire Services (whose representative ‘Bullman’ is played by South African actor Jeremy Crutchley), the Armed Forces, the Dept of Transport, the Media, etc., while keeping the government informed of events.

As predicted, the storm surge enters the Thames estuary and easily crosses the barrier, with torrents of water pouring into the city, flooding streets and buildings and the Underground. About eight million people have to be evacuated to higher ground within a couple of hours, which is clearly impossible. The trains cannot cope with the sheer numbers, bridges are washed away, the roads become gridlocked, and, as though there hasn’t been quite enough human suffering, law and order breaks down completely.

Rob, Sam and Leonard have to put aside their differences in order to save the city.

With regard to the production of the movie:

“The film was shot on location in London and South Africa. It is notable for the use of intricate production design and special effects in depicting famous London landmarks such as the London Underground, Houses of Parliament and The O2 being partially submerged under water.

Twenty-six studio sets were constructed with built-in water effects to shoot the actors in a wide range of flood sequences. Miniature sets in water tanks were used to shoot larger flooded buildings such as the Thames Barrier, London Underground and car parks. Computer generated visual effects were used to create shots of flooded London by combining shots of London with digitally created water. Locations in Cape Town were used for Whitehall, the Scottish coastline, London Underground and the Thames Barrier.” (Wikipedia)

I wonder what locations they used in Cape Town? 🙂

It is frightening to think that the scenario depicted in this movie could actually become reality. According to the release dates, the movie was released in August 2007. Only a few months later, in November 2007, the Thames barrier actually had to be closed twice:

“The barrier was closed twice on 9 November 2007 after a storm surge in the North Sea which was compared to the one in 1953.[7] The main danger of flooding from the surge was on the coast above the Thames Barrier, where evacuations took place, but the winds abated a little and, at the Thames Barrier, the 9 November 2007 storm surge did not completely coincide with high tide.” (Wikipedia)

It was an excellent and seriously nailbiting movie. But if you tend to have nightmares about drowning, perhaps you should put this back on the shelf.

2 thoughts on “Movie review: “Flood”

  1. We’re experiencing a spring tide in Nova Scotia just as Hurricane Bill is about to descend on the coast. In looking up spring tides yesterday, I read that in 1099, 100,000 people died during such a high tide in the Netherlands. That must have been awful.

    • The elemental forces of nature, whether fire (in the form of wildfires, volcanic eruptions), wind (hurricanes, typhoons), water (floods, tsunamis) or earth (mudslides, avalanches), can be terrifyingly powerful and devastatingly destructive. I find such events even more frightening, because they are so indiscriminate, destroying anything and anyone in their path, regardless of who you are.

      I thought that ‘Flood’ was an excellent movie, even more so because it is based on reality and because it could potentially happen in numerous locations all around the earth.

      I hope that you and your family will be safe, Amy. We don’t get hurricanes in Cape Town, so I can’t say that I know what it feels like to be in the middle of one, but I really hope you will be okay and that your home will be safe. Look after yourselves!

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