The Movie Waffler Fire On Film! 6 Cinematic Infernos | The Movie Waffler

Fire On Film! 6 Cinematic Infernos

We look at six movies that captured the terror of fire on film.

Since it was discovered in Neanderthal times, fire has been a friend and foe to man; providing heat and security but also the cause of mass devastation and ruin. On film, we often see fire depicted as a destructive force. A catastrophic adversity to be tackled and defeated by the hero.

But not all fires can be tamed, and that rings true this month in Deepwater Horizon (out now on digital platforms and on Blu-ray and DVD from 30th Jan) – based on the devastating 2010 explosion on the titular oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico –in which we see Mike Williams and his crew fight for survival on the flaming rig. To celebrate its release, we take a look back at some of the most fearsome infernos on film.

Deepwater Horizon (2017)

Inspired by real events and informed by real lives, Deepwater Horizon records the world’s largest man-made disaster that occurred on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20th, 2010. This story of the oil rig explosion honours the brave men and women whose heroism would save many on board, and change everyone’s lives forever. A stellar cast of Mark Wahlberg, Kurt Russell, Gina Rodriguez and Dylan O’Brien star as the oil rig crew who fight and flee the explosion, while John Malkovich provides the dastardly corporate foil to their operation. An unflinchingly tense depiction of a uniquely human story, Deepwater Horizon is a truly brilliant action thriller with a formidable fire at its centre.

Ladder 49 (2004)

Jaoquin Phoenix and John Travolta star in this '00s Baltimore-based thriller in which fire-fighter Jack Morrison (Phoenix) struggles to cope with a risky, demanding job that often leaves his wife and kids worrying for his life. To deal with the psychological strain, Jack relies on the support of his mentor and captain, Mike Kennedy (Travolta) and the brotherly bond between the men of the firehouse, whom he considers his second family. When Jack becomes trapped in the worst blaze of his career, his life and the things dearest to him – family, dignity and courage – are thrown into sharp focus. As his fellow firemen of Ladder 49 do all they can to rescue him, Jack's life hangs in the balance.

Volcano (1997)

Tommy Lee Jones plays the hero as geological disaster hits L.A. in the form of an underground volcano. Jones plays Mike Roark, a by-the-book emergency management director who is thrown into the thick of it when the previously-unknown volcano blows, and molten lava begins to spread and destroy the city. Mike teams up with scientist Dr. Amy Barnes (Ann Heche), who is the first to warn of the threat. As the lava starts to spurt in red-hot fireballs, Mike and Kelly do all they can to battle the eruption, rescue citizens and run the city's emergency response while sparks of romantic attraction fly.

Backdraft (1991)

Hollywood heavyweights Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert DeNiro and Donald Sutherland line up in this scorching thriller. Fire-fighting brothers Dennis (Russell) and Brian McCaffrey (Baldwin) carry their lifelong sibling rivalry into their work: Dennis is convinced that Brian hasn't got what it takes to deal with the physical and psychological pressures of working in the fire department and so he is eventually transferred to a "safe" assignment, assisting arson investigator Donald Rimgale (DeNiro). Brian and Donald embark on a case in an attempt to make sense of a series of fires involving an oxygen-induced ball of fire called a backdraft. The investigation reveals a link between a corrupt politician and the imprisoned pyromaniac Ronald Bartel (Sutherland). The trail of evidence leads Brian to suspect that his brother, a much-decorated hero, may be the "inside" man setting up the arsons.

The Towering Inferno (1974)

Widely considered one of the best disaster movies ever made, The Towering Inferno boasted one of the most impressive casts of its era, including old school Hollywood heroes Steve McQueen and Paul Newman as the two leads, supported by superstars Fred Astaire, Susan Blakely, O.J. Simpson, William Holden, Faye Dunaway, Richard Chamberlain and Jennifer Jones. In the film, the world's tallest building becomes victim to an electrical mishap on the day of its grand opening, and a subsequent huge fire erupts on its upper floors, causing all of the city's rescue teams to converge upon the scene and attempt to fight against what is a raging monster. Step by step, floor by floor, the heroes embark on a race against time to save hundreds of people trapped inside on a night of blazing suspense.

Bambi (1942)

Less aligned to the disaster movies listed above but just as moving and memorable, Bambi makes the cut for the titular deer’s heroics during a raging forest fire scene in which he rescues his friends Thumper the rabbit and Flower the skunk. We follow the male deer Bambi from birth, through his early childhood experiences, the traumatic sudden death of Bambi's mother at the hands of hunters, his courtship of the lovely doe Faline, and the rescue of his friends during the furious forest fire. We last see the mature, antlered Bambi assuming his proper place as the Prince of the Forest.