There are millions of people who will eventually see this movie whether in the theater, cable, iTunes, or by purchasing the DVD. I am sure there will be many people who will see the collapsing buildings, hear the roaring low frequency sound effects blasting from the sound track, and will cringe at the crushed humans smashed by busted concrete and sliced by chards of whistling glass…and those people might say, c’mon that can’t happen. And I am telling you it can and will, maybe not as bad as portrayed in this newly released film, but it can and will.
The earthquake portrayed in this film is based, for the most part, on scientific fact. The quake in the film unzipped the San Andreas fault and an adjoining Nevada fault from Las Vegas then to Los Angeles and then up the coast 347 miles to San Francisco. Both downtown corridors in L.A. and S.F. were pretty much destroyed in this film. Could this happen, in the 9.6 earthquake portrayed? Pretty much, yes.
And then some uniformed naysayers might add…well, a 9.6 magnitude quake, that’s impossible. Check out the list of the top ten in recent history:
Assam, Tibet 1950 8.6 magnitude
Northern Sumatra 2005 8.6 magnitude
Rat Island, Alaska 2003 8.7 magnitude
Coastal Equador 1906 8.8 magnitude
Coastal Chile 2010 8.8 magnitude
Kamchatka Penninsula, Russia 1952 9.0 magnitude
East Coast Honshu (Fukushima), Japan 2011 9.0 magnitude
West Coast Sumatra 2004 9.1 magnitude
Prince William Sound (Anchorage), Alaska 1964 9.2 magnitude
Chile 1960 9.5 magnitude
So the San Andreas movie quake at 9.6 under or near two major U.S. and California cities with high concentrated populations, yes, quite possible.
And that, ladies and gentleman, is why I enjoyed this movie. I liked it because it was fairly much factually correct, except for the chasm portrayed with the earth separating with a yawning abyss in the middle of a horizon to horizon bottomless trench. The human conflict story was not heavy-handed to the point of distraction/nausea and that allowed for the action to logically continue. This isn’t the best movie I have ever seen, but with my history experiencing earthquakes in Los Angeles, Sylmar in 1971 ( 6.6 magnitude) and Northridge in 1994 (6.7,) I would say this movie came pretty damn close to showing from a human perspective what the actual shaking would look and sound like and what the aftermath would look like in such a massive quake. After my experience seeing the destruction especially after the Northridge earthquake, the damage, destruction, death, fear, tortuous rebuilding process to me looked frightening and acurate.
In the movie the terror during the actual earthquake was pinpoint correct. The destruction after the movie earthquake was massive and stretched to the optical horizon in frame. Photos from the San Francisco earthquake on April 18, 1906 (7.9 magnitude) are proof of what probably would happen to San Francisco if a 9.6 earthquake struck. Here are just four of the hundreds of photos taken after that 1906 San Francisco quake:
Seismologists have recently increased the percentages of “The Big One” occurring along the San Andreas Fault. There is a very good chance it will occur within the next 30 years and as of today and this writing it is overdue, long overdue.
So, the movie, I liked, go see it if you want a glimpse of what coastal California will experience and look like after “The Big One.”