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The ecstasy of destruction

The end of history has come to the big screen. After the cold war, disaster movies are less anxious but more nihilistic

By Stephen Brown   October 1998

In armageddon, one of this summer’s two big-rocks-hitting-the-earth films, there is a sequence in which Paris, hit dead centre by a fragment from the meteor, is flattened by a wave of explosive force spreading across most of the city. The sequence lasts about a minute and, by itself, accounts for about a dozen people in the long special effects credits. This sequence ($500,000 worth?) has no relevance to the plot. The fragments which hit New York at the beginning and those which later obliterate Shanghai are key plot turning points. But this is incidental, in the way that only scenes…

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