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Film Study: Flood Then and Now

Movies show you what your imagination can't always manage. Whole worlds are created and recreated with science fiction, action adventure and any other genre you can think of. In recent years though, the end-of-the-world epics have taken the lead in Hollywood.

Films depicting natural disasters and apocalyptic events, based on both real and imagined storylines, have taken the world by storm and caused audiences to ponder: what if that was me?

The films 2012 and Noah are prime examples of this type of film, each focusing on what the end of the world would be like at the hands of an epic flood. One looks at the effect of such an event on advanced modern society, the other looks at how it would have panned out millennia ago, but the result is the same both times: water wins.

Now looking at this as a fire and flood restoration company, we can admit that a clean up and restoration project of this scale is daunting to say the least. But what about from your point of view? How would you deal with these floods? Would you fare any better now than you would have done then?

Read on to see how these films imagined the world would fare in the face of an apocalyptic flood, both then and now.

Then: Noah (2014)

The 2014 film Noah depicts a disaster of, quite literally, biblical proportions. Though heavily influenced by Hollywood, this movie version of the famous biblical tale takes a close and disturbing look at the human condition and the epic destruction caused by what would be the biggest and most devastating natural disaster mankind has ever encountered.

The film starts by showing the life of Noah and his family in an ancient world, where civilisation was in its infancy and barbaric tribes (rather than the towns and cities of the modern world) were on the front row just in time for the ensuing disaster.

As Noah begins building his ark, the film turns its attention away from the flood itself and focuses more on the human experience of such an epic natural disaster. For a while the narrative follows the anticipation of the event, the overwhelming fear individuals experience, the personal and collective panic and a range of other emotional challenges.

Just as the characters reach their breaking point, trying to find ways to escape the flood and imagine what life will be like after the event, the waters rise. Constant rain, great tidal floods and complete and utter destruction is depicted impeccably by special effects. In fact, it is so realistic that sitting in the audience, you can be just as fraught with emotion as the characters themselves.

Once the main event is over, the film looks more in depth at how life continues in what is effectively a post-apocalyptic world. The landscape has changed, the level of loss is unfathomable and the very foundations of life have been transformed.

As is the case with any good film or storytelling, after watching Noah you can be in danger of thinking too in depth, trying to get your head around what such a flood would be like and what kind of effect it would have on the world's population in the 21st century.

Millennia of history and culture would be destroyed as the world's greatest cities and monuments fall to a watery grave. Most, if not all of the world's population would be wiped out almost instantly and the prospect of a "clean up" and a return to normality would seem almost impossible.

Though set long before the dawn of the world as we know it, Noah has a unique and powerful way of making you really think about the sheer power of water and the dire possibilities associated with flood.

Now: 2012 (2009)

2012 was a box office hit back in 2009. The film depicted the end of the world in great detail, coordinating the year set (2012) with the popular Mayan Calendar date thought to signify the end of life on earth. This science fiction epic starred big names and was full of awe-inspiring special effects.

According to the film, the end of the world is completely unavoidable and catastrophic on every level; cosmic events like solar flares and the disruption of the Earth's core are depicted as being the source of the great problems that follow. The initial wave of destruction includes events like fires and earthquakes, volcanic events, polar shifts and disastrous weather events. Terrible as these events are though, they are shown to be a prelude for the main event; a swathe of worldwide tsunamis capable of wiping out entire countries.

This idea that the world's swan song will be an epic flood is reminiscent of the Noah story, as is the Ark programme, which is in place to help a select few survive the cataclysm. Like the Noah film, 2012 also looks closely at the way in which an interconnected group of individuals deal with the impending doom of a flood that will destroy the world.

Despite the astounding special effects, the raw representation of human life and loss and the myriad of terrible natural disasters that wipe out the population, this film is heavily focused on flood. The flood is seen as the main event, the bit that nobody can escape and the most powerful force. It is the flood that wipes out the remaining life, even after whole cities have fallen into the Earth's crust and oceans. The flood is also what changes the face of the planet, leaving the survivors helplessly stranded in their arks as they search desperately for land.

It is this representation of the power of water and flood that really raises questions with an audience. What would you do in a flood on that scale? Would anyone survive? What would life be like after the world became a washout? It goes without saying that a contingency plan or a clean up operation would prove futile in the face of a flood like the one shown in 2012, which actually puts things in perspective - much like it does with Noah.

Each of these films looks at flood on an epic scale, representing the sheer power of water and its ability to cause complete and utter destruction. In terms of entertainment value, neither can be faulted. What's more is their emotional impact and how thought provoking they are. Audiences can get swept away with the adventure and thinking about how they would deal with a world-ending flood; either back at the dawn of time or in the 21st century.

Of course, even regions prone to flooding in the UK don't see floods or damage on the scale of Noah and 2012, but the fact of the matter is that floods of any size are emotionally and physically damaging to those involved.

That is why it is so important to be prepared and to make the most of professional services like surveyors, insurance, emergency services and flood restoration companies who can help before, during and after flooding.

As long as you are prepared, then you can enjoy these cinematic epics for their entertainment value. But be sure to appreciate the warnings they give about the dangers of flood and the damage it causes, and make sure you seek assistance should the worst ever happen to you.