Behind the Scenes of The Andromeda Strain

Die großartige Film-Website Cinephilia and Beyond hat ein dickes Posting mit jeder Menge Behind-The-Scenes-Shots und dem illustrierten Original-Script von einem meiner „Holy Trinity“-SciFi-Filme – The Andromeda Strain von Robert Wise nach einem Buch von Michael Crichton. (Die anderen beiden sind Westworld und Fantastic Voyage und eigentlich ist es ein „Holy Quartett“ mit Saul Bass' Phase IV, aber „Holy Trinity“ klingt besser.)

The highly versatile American film director Robert Wise might have indeed won popular support and the Academy’s attention with West Side Story and The Sound of Music, but his contribution to numerous genres is astonishing, especially if we consider what he had done for science fiction. In 1951 he directed the genre classic The Day the Earth Stood Still. Twenty-eight years later he made the first Star Trek film, initiating a trend still alive today in the recent works of J. J. Abrams. But between these two important projects Wise directed a captivating story that aptly explores the terrifying nature and potential of technology in a science fiction film called The Andromeda Strain. A satellite crashes in New Mexico, unleashing a deadly organism that quickly kills everyone in the little town of Piedmont except an infant and the elderly town drunk. A team of four expert scientists gets called to action: in a secret underground laboratory they dedicate themselves to investigating the extraterrestrial virus, trying to decipher what makes it so deadly and if there’s a way to contain it.

Based on the great Michael Crichton’s 1969 best-seller of the same name, The Andromeda Strain was written by Nelson Gidding, Wise’s longtime collaborator. Sticking rather closely to the original novel, Wise’s film is a dark, pessimistic, visually powerful look on technology, as well as a cautioning social commentary. At first, the film shows the vast potential and impressive development of technology, only to commit itself to showing what might happen to humanity at the point when the same technological wonders turn on their very creators. Even if we disregard this direct and obvious criticism, The Andromeda Strain still functions perfectly well as a tension-filled, nicely paced, intellectually stimulating thriller able to satisfy the cinematic needs of most movie-goers inclined to these types of stories.

The marvelously illustrated screenplay, empowered by the use of sketches, diagrams, animations and multi-screen effects so as to better convey the complexity of the vision of Crichton’s novel, was a perfect Christmas present for C&B from Sean McMahon, to whom we send our kind regards.