Class Information by Ellin Beltz

Geology Film Festival

The following movies are suggested for your Geology Film Festival. The list was compiled by two professors, a teaching assistant, one newly minted M.S. and a group of creative undergraduates. We hope you enjoy this film festival.

Films which may be Reviewed

2001, A Space Odyssey
Apocalypse Now
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me
Back to the Future
Breaking Away
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Common Ground
Crocodile Dundee I or II
Dante's Peak
Fantasia I
Feature Films by Jacques Cousteau
From Russia, With Love
Independence Day
Indiana Jones and the Lost Crusade
Inherit the Wind
James Bond movies
Jurassic Park
Left Behind
Medicine Man
Mi Isla Boriquen
On the Beach
Out of Africa
Patriot Games
Shawshank Rebellion
Silent Running
Six Days/Seven Nights
Smilla's Sense of Snow
Soylent Green
Star Trek IV (the whales)
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Wars
The Long, Long Trailer
Three Godfathers
Vertical Limit
X-Files Movie

Become a reviewer!

  • Select a film
    • Do not pick one which has been reviewed!
    • Or suggest a film which is not on the list but which has geological significance, interesting geological features on location, a geological topic or subplot.
  • Write not more than one page per film
    • Be sure to include the geological significance, interesting geological features on location, a geological topic or subplots you notice in the film.
    • There are movie official pages and fan pages on the web which will often tell you exactly where the movie was filmed.
    • Note any geographical or scientific errors you observe, or which have been observed by others (always give proper credit)
    • Cite all internet URLs or print sources, by ISBN, that you used.
    • Follow your instructor's specific instructions on how many to watch and when the papers are due if you are doing this for credit.
    • Obviously, do not copy any previous reviews as it is your instructor who edits, codes and publishes these pages!

Geology Film Festival - Reviews

A great general comment

"I do not think that there is any movie without a geological element since perhaps all of them take place on the Earth or in cosmos... all [movies] will have a theme, or at least a scene, which we can discuss in geological terms."


  • Ninety percent of this movie takes place in the ocean.
  • After Titanic had sunk it were the effects of gravity which pulled the ship apart and to the bottom.
  • The iceberg is geologically significant. Since only ten to twenty percent of an iceberg sticks up, the crew of the Titanic didn't see the iceberg until it was too late to turn the ship. And she went down.
  • The Titanic is 2.5 miles down, four hundred miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The submarine which took pictures was subject to 3.5 tons of pressure per square inch on it's skin and its windows are nine inches thick to stand the pressure.
  • In the famous scene where they talk to each other at the front of the boat, the boat is sailing the wrong way if you look at where the sun is relative to the actors. Since it is at their left hands, they are facing north. The boat was supposed to be sailing to Europe which is east of North America.
  • I am not a student of yours, but was reading your site and wish to comment on the last remark about "Titanic." The ship was sailing from Europe to North America, so the sun is in the correct place. Your student was confused about the direction from which the ship was sailing, although it is interesting that your students notice the direction of the sun. I also liked the comment about "Armageddon" where your student points out that it cannot be daylight all around the world at the same time.


  • Real footage in the movie includes the shuttle takeoffs.
  • The asteroid isn't very realistic. Real asteroids look like potatoes. The asteroid was shot on location in Kadoka, South Dakota which is in the Badlands.
  • Mohs scale in action while they try to drill into "pure iron ferrite." Never you mind that we drill into hardened steel here on Earth all the time so they should have had drill bits for this material with them in their highly deluxe spaceship.
  • The oil rig is supposed to be in the South China Sea.
  • There is only one asteroid the size of Texas that we know about. It is Ceres which doesn't even orbit anywhere near the earth.
  • They bent the laws of gravity and the need for spacesuits... but the movies are made purely for entertainment and not so much for scientific truth and learning.
  • When the asteroid is moving there is a thunder-like sound coming from the TV speakers. This cannot be real because the asteroid is moving in a vacuum and there is no sound in vacuum.
  • The Russian astronaut would not have been able to walk off the space ship because he had been in space for 11 months and you can't walk normal after that long in space.
  • When the people are rejoicing all over the world, it is daylight everywhere. This is impossible.

Deep Impact

  • The comet was supposed to be 7 miles long, weighing about 500 billion tons and the size of New York City and larger than Mount Everest.
  • The "tidal wave" at the end is supposed to have been eleven feet high over open waters and to have risen to 1000 and 3500 feet high at speeds of over 1000 miles per hour.

The Mosquito Coast

  • The area the family settles in is an erosional environment. The river has taken away the banks by the town and carried the sediment off shore.
  • The man tries to make ice from heat.

North by Northwest

  • The corn field is a flat landscape which the director used for the scene with the crop duster.
  • Mount Rushmore was key to the ending of the movie, but I don't think anyone could have Mount Rushmore as the view out their house windows!

The Gods Must Be Crazy

  • The first thing I wanted to do was find out what kind of people made this movie. At first, there are fascinating scenes about Bushmen (and Bushwomen) living in the Kalahari Desert... living off the land, and using the land to survive without altering it in any way... [However civilized] man has altered the environment for his convenience, only to make it more difficult... so that we are confronted with problems and issues in the environment that we created for ourselves.
  • The action takes place in Kalahari Desert, in Botswana... Bushmen have lived there for 20,000 years. Kalahari is there home... sand dunes... dried salt lake... old igneous rocks... animals or vehicles leave behind their tracks in the sand and the tracks can lead to their source.


  • Everest is science centered and shot entirely on location making it one of the most interesting movies on the list... it is the tallest mountain on Earth... 5.5 miles above sea level... being pushed up by means of plate tectonics, and at its foot is the subtropical town of Katmandu.
  • The climbing team installed GPS sensing equipment for a geologist named Roger who had a British accent. But they didn't tell him of all the rocks they saw because they didn't want to have to carry down all the rocks on the mountain so he could see them. The Spanish climber says about Roger, "Geology is a life for him."


  • This movie was filmed in Kansas.
  • This movie was filmed in Iowa.
  • One of the nitpicking websites pointed out that they have Texas roadsigns in a scene filmed in Kansas.
  • I don't think the cow flying around while the Dodge truck was unharmed was very realistic.
  • Except for the first tornado which is an Fujita scale 5 ("F5"), the tornadoes go up in intensity: F1 to F5 which is largest.


  • Los Angeles is located on top of a transform fault called the "San Andreas Fault." This movie proposes that the fault pulls apart and hot lava comes up. The new volcano shoots lava balls which set buildings on fire; the firemen fight each fire separately without realizing that the whole neighborhood will have to be rebuilt entirely because the street level is going to be five feet higher from all the lava. Tunnels under the city routed some of the lava directly to the ocean, and workers routed the rest of it down one of the flash flood channels which are essentially open air sewers for the occasional rainstorm which hits this desert town.

Independence Day

  • The alien space ship is said to be 550 Km/344 miles in diameter.
  • Locations were shot in Nevada for the place where the government is supposed to have kept the alien craft and pilot.

Apollo 13

  • This whole movie is science (and history)!
  • The space ship was going as fast as a bullet.
  • They lost communication with Earth when they went behind the Moon and later during reentry into Earth's atmosphere.
  • They used the Moon's gravity and their acceleration to "slingshot" around the Moon and help them get home.
  • If they had missed a narrow reentry slot, they would have bounced off like a pebble and the astronauts would have died.

Star Wars

  • Tatooine has two suns... it was really shot in Tunisia, Africa and Death Valley National Monument, California.
  • Later shots include Guatemala and the split second shot of Aztec temples in Mexico.
  • The Return of the Jedi planet,Endor,was shot in the Redwood Forests in Northern California.


  • This movie is full of geological discoveries... snow-capped mountains, steep cliffs and gorgeous valleys... an avalanche... foliated rock... stalactites in a cave... shot in Colorado at Rocky Mountain National Park and the Ute Mountain Ute Reservation with some scenes shot in Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy.

Dr. No

  • This was the first Bond movie... began the tradition of 007 James Bond traveling to exotic locales and solving mysteries based on his knowledge of basic science, including geology... shot in Kingston Jamaica, Crabkey Island in Caribbean and London.

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Ellin Beltz /
January 10, 2008