The Day After Tomorrow

From Academic Kids

Template:Infobox Movie

The Day After Tomorrow is also an alternate title for the Robert Heinlein novel Sixth Column.

The Day After Tomorrow is a 2004 apocalyptic science-fiction film that dramatically depicts catastrophic effects of global warming and boasts high-end special effects as a strong point, although the science it is based on has little mainstream credibility.

The Day After Tomorrow premiered in Mexico City on May 17, 2004 and was released worldwide from May 26 to May 28 except in South Korea and Japan where it was released June 4 and June 5, respectively.



Actor Role
Dennis Quaid Jack Hall
Jake Gyllenhaal Sam Hall
Emmy Rossum Laura Chapman
Dash Mihok Jason Evans
Jay O. Sanders Frank Harris
Sela Ward Dr. Lucy Hall
Arjay Smith Brian Parks
Ian Holm Terry Rapson


Global warming destabilises the climate causing a massive "global superstorm" system resulting within weeks in an ice age for the northern hemisphere. The movie follows Jack, a paleoclimatologist for NOAA; his son Sam, a high school student; and his wife Lucy, a doctor.


The movie is based on the idea that the Gulf Stream (or North Atlantic drift), an ocean current which circulates warm water from the tropics to the Northern Hemisphere, is disrupted by the melting of the polar ice caps.

This leads to catastrophic changes in the Earths climate, as the temperature of the atmosphere stabilises into a new pattern. The changes manifest as three interconnected supercells, massive storm systems which develop and spread to cover the entire northern hemisphere. Although not believed at first, the initial predictions are that this will take some six to eight weeks to take effect. These combine over the space of a week to form a huge planet-wide storm system, sucking extremely cold air from the upper atmosphere to the ground causing snow and ice, and flash freezing anything caught in it.

Missing image
Jack giving his presentation to the UN (NOTE: Look right in this picture, most of the Malay Archipelago is missing and Saudi Arabia is joined to Africa)

The story follows Jack Hall, a paleoclimatologist, who has forecasted such an event, though he expects it to happen much more slowly (on the order of 100 or 1,000 years). The movie opens with Jack, in Antarctica, with two colleagues, Frank & Jason, drilling for ice core samples for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The concentration of "greenhouse gases" (e.g., carbon dioxide) contained in the cores is used in a presentation he makes to a United Nations conference held in New Delhi on global warming. In that scene, snow is falling on New Delhi, where it rarely, if ever, snows. Present at this conference is Dr. Rapson of the Hedland Climate Research Center in Scotland. After the conference, Jack and Dr. Rapson meet for a cup of tea to discuss Jack's findings, which establishes a relationship between the two that will be needed later.

Shortly after Dr. Rapson arrives back in Scotland from the conference three buoys in the North Atlantic simultaneously show a large drop in water temperature. Other buoys soon begin showing the same. Dr. Rapson concludes that the melting of the polar ice has begun to disrupt the North Atlantic current and calls Jack to see if his paleoclimatological weather model could be used to predict what will happen.

Missing image
Sam, Laura, Brian, & J.D. in waist-high water in Manhattan on their way to the New York Public Library

In Tokyo and Los Angeles, the beginnings of the superstorm begin to show. Large hailstones fall on Tokyo, causing damage and fatalities. In Los Angeles, numerous tornadoes devastate the city (and the Hollywood sign). Jack approaches his boss, Tom, at NOAA for time on the mainframe to run his paleoclimatological weather model with Dr. Rapson's data. The results show the global climate will change in 6-8 weeks.

Sam, Jack's son, with his friends Laura Chapman and Brian Parks are attending an academic decathlon in Manhattan. After severe weather also hits Manhattan, Sam calls his father. (According to the DVD commentary, the woman on the other side of Sam from the phone is Kirsten Dunst.) Jack convinces Sam to head back to Washington, D.C. via train the following morning. In the meantime, Sam, Laura and Brian stay at J.D.'s, a fellow decathlete's, apartment in Manhattan. While they are in the apartment, the rain continues and floods the train terminal, which changes their plans to driving. Their plans change once again when flooding continues and car transportion is no longer an option.

Stranded in Manhattan, and with a waist-high level of water, the group seeks a higher location: the New York Public Library. The impending storm over North America drastically raises the water level in the Atlantic Ocean, which then floods Manhattan. (Although the height of the water is shown to be up to the armpit of the Statue of Liberty, which is approximately 225 feet (69 meters), the height of the water in the city appears to be substantially less.) In their race to the library, Laura cuts her leg, which will result in blood poisoning later.

Missing image
Sam, Brian, & J.D. dashing back into the New York Public Library after retrieving Penicillin from the Russian ship

Trapped in the library (with many others) with no power, Sam attempts to call his father on a payphone about what to do. Jack tells Sam about the superstorm and its flash freezing; tells Sam to stay in the library and burn anything to stay warm; and wait for Jack to come to Sam. While waiting, a Russian ship floats down the street and stops just past the library.

Prior to Jack leaving for Manhattan, he advises the President to evacuate the southern half of the country to Mexico, which he does. Jack's wife, Lucy, however, stays behind to care for a boy with cancer that she is treating until an ambulance arrives. It later does, after everyone leaves, and Lucy and the boy make it to Mexico. As the superstorm approaches, the rain turns to snow and the water freezes. Most of the people in the library leave at seeing others in Manhattan leaving despite Sam telling them of the dangers. The only people left in the library are Sam, Laura, Brian, J.D., Judith the librarian, a man named Jeremy, a woman named Elsa, and homeless man Luther with his dog Buddha.

In order for this group to survive, Sam convinces them to burn books. Sam (with Brian and J.D.) ventures out to the Russian ship to get Penicillin for Laura's blood poisoning. Whilst they do so, the eye of the storm begins to develop above the city, leading to a race against time to avoid a somewhat incongruous wolfpack and return to the warmth of the fire in the library, in order to survive the flash freezing effects of the descending cold air.

Missing image
Partly buried Statue of Liberty with Jack & Jason walking past it

The mass evacuation of the southern half to Mexico results in a political drama after Mexico closes the border. In order to get Mexico to open the border, the President agrees to forgive all Latin American debt. Hall finally reaches New York and finds that his son and the rest of their group have survived. The movie ends with people emerging onto the roofs of skyscrapers to be rescued and Jack (with the library group) being picked up by a helicopter.


The movie was inspired by The Coming Global Superstorm, a book co-authored by Whitley Strieber and Art Bell, which explores the possibility of such a storm actually occurring.

Shortly before and during the release of the movie, members of environmental groups and former Vice President Al Gore distributed pamphlets to movie-goers describing what they believe to be the possible effects of global warming, which generally did not agree with the film.

Science analysis

It should be noted that there is little if any meteorological or climatological science in the actual events of the movie. It relies upon a concept borrowed from chaos theory that a critical change can rapidly destabilise an entire system, but many scientists believe the "global superstorm" depicted in the movie is extremely implausible, if not impossible.

The initial idea—that an increase in freshwater could cause a slowdown or stop of the thermohaline circulation—has some probability, say scientists, but would be more likely to cause regional rather than global cooling, and would probably operate on timescales of decades or more. Other aspects of the "science" in the film—that descending stratospheric air would be cold, for example—are considered by some to be blatantly wrong. George Monbiot called The Day After Tomorrow "a great movie and lousy science" [1] (,4120,1215824,00.html). The potential temperature of stratospheric air is higher (not lower) than the temperature of the surface air. Also, the "descending" air is depicted as freezing without a matching downdraft.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution provides some more detailed analysis of the flaws in the science of the movie [2] (

A further incongruity is the appearance of the wolfpack, which is said to have probably escaped from a zoo. It is extremely unlikely that the few caged specimens kept in an enclosure would be capable of forming a viable hunting pack or behave in the manner depicted within the very few days involved.

DVD release

It was first released on DVD in the USA on October 12, 2004 in both widescreen and full screen versions. A collector's edition was released on May 24, 2005.


External links

de:The Day After Tomorrow fr:Le Jour d'aprs (film, 2004) ja:デイ・アフター・トゥモロー fi:The Day After Tomorrow sv:The Day After Tomorrow zh:明天過後


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