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The Andromeda Strain (1971)

 
 

An Alien Strain

Kate Reid in The Andromeda Strain (1971)

When a Government satellite comes down in the vicinity of Piedmont, New Mexico two men are sent in to find it only to discover everyone in the town except for an elderly drunk and a baby still alive. With the Government fearing something not of this world has landed on the planet via the satellite they put in to motion emergency plans where the satellite and 4 scientists as well as the survivors are taken to Wildfire, a high tech and ultra secure laboratory where they plan to investigate what might have caused the mass deaths and how comes the old woman and baby survived. With systems in place that would destroy the facility if there was any breach by the virus the team work on what they find, a microorganism which begins to mutate.

"The Andromeda Strain" is serious sci-fi, it is the dramatization of "faux" actual events surrounding an alien virus hitting the planet. What does that mean? Well firstly it means that if your attention span is short and struggle with movies which are more about the dialogue than the visual then you could well struggle with "The Andromeda Strain" as it is light on action and adrenalin. You might also struggle as it is intentionally slow paced, building the blocks of the drama until the danger of the situation becomes apparent.

Now I am not going to go in to detail of what happens but just point out a couple of things starting with the interesting concept that it is not some sort of monster which comes from out of space to tear the World a new one but a microorganism which threatens to wipe out mankind. It is a nice switch on the usual and one which allows for a more limited setting although one whilst we are inside the futuristic research facility we do get glimpses of the course of action going on in the outside world.

The other thing is that "The Andromeda Strain" is adapted from a Michael Crichton novel and as such we are presented with this technological world where we are in an underground research facility where there are numerous layers of decontamination to go through in order to reach the heart of the facility. We also have no typical examples of technology and some clever ideas with a lot of logic involved such as the system to destroy the facility in case there was a leak. But all of this means is that "The Andromeda Strain" is a movie which you need to pay attention to to get the maximum effect of all the detail and logic.

Then there is the acting and here is the unusual thing as all the characters are critical, they all have an important part to play and in the case of Kate Reid certainly has a very specific character. However the performances are also strangely anonymous with no one delivering what I call a star power performance.

What this all boils down to is that as I said "The Andromeda Strain" is serious sci-fi and one which is all about the procedure and logic of what unfolds. It is slow going and the sort of movie which you have to pay attention to from start to finish but the more time you give it the more fascinating it becomes.

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