A military-engineered virus, released during a plane crash, kills the entire human population. The only survivors are scientists in Antarctica, who desperately try to find a cure and save what is left of the planet from further destruction.
A small group of multinational scientist stuck in the Antarctic learn to survive after a human engineered virus knocks out most of earth\'s population.
Virus (aka Day of Resurrection, Fukkatsu no hi, 1980)
This is the mother of all apocalypse films: it is not enough that a deadly virus wipes out the entire population of Earth except a handful of people stationed in Antarctica, but then a nuclear holocaust wipes out whatever\'s left, including most of the survivors. Nothing ever works right for the heroes of this drama, including in many places the script. By the time the credits roll, you will truly believe that the ending is happy. You may not be singing \"It\'s a Wonderful Life\" but your frame of reference would be so twisted that you\'d forget that it really is twenty people about to revert to Cro-magnon state.
A secret biological agent is stolen from an American research lab by the East Germans. An attempt to recover it misfires when the plane carrying the agent crashes somewhere in Mongolia (or at least in Asia, the guys were speaking Russian actually). For some reason it spreads first in Italy, and the epidemic is dubbed the \"Italian Flu.\" Soon it becomes clear that it is impossible to contain, rioting breaks out, and even though the US government does find out what the origin is, it is too late to create a vaccine. Within a month the entire population of the planet is wiped out. Except the scientists stationed in Antarctica: the virus goes dormant when the temperature drops below -10 degrees. Eight women and 855 men are to rebuild the world.
Not so fast! What would a Cold War disaster film be without some reference to the overbearing Russians and Americans, with their \"stupid\" rivalry. In a very heavy-handed critique of the antagonism, both sides are obsessed with the possibility that the other will attack even as the world is disintegrating around them. They have doomsday machines of Dr. Strangelove variety: if a nuclear explosion is detected on the home land, the full retaliatory force is automatically fired at the enemy. Before dying, the crazy American (and the unseen Soviet counterpart) activate the doomsday machines.
This does not seem to be a problem: after all, each system requires a detonation to trigger. But then Yoshizumi (Kusakari Masao) discovers that oil drilling in the Atlantic has caused a shift that is going to produce an earthquake strong enough to be misinterpreted as a nuclear strike by the system. This still does not sound that bad: after all, Antarctica is pretty far from both the US and the USSR. Unfortunately, it turns out the Soviets have targeted Antarctica because they had believed the Americans were building military bases there. As the Soviet general puts it, the Americans did not have monopoly on idiots.
The film transforms itself from a survival flick into an action-suspense thriller as Yoshizumi and Major Carter (Bo Svenson) race against time to deactivate the doomsday system before the earthquake strikes. The major perishes in the process and Yoshizumi begins his lone trek back to South America in search for any survivors from Antarctica. For some reason his trip leads him through Machu Picchu (I fail to fathom why one would climb it instead of following the Urubamba River) and through many desolate peaks (for some reason he does not like well-paved highways).
The film is so bleak, one can hardly experience the happy ending when Yoshizumi, bearing a startling resemblance to Robison Crusoe on a bad hair day, reunites with his love Marit (Olivia Hussey). Without the background story cut from the international release it was impossible to understand his motivation, but it is clear in this version. Yoshizumi had left behind his girlfriend Noriko (Takigawa Yumi) even though she had been pregnant with his child. She dies in the flu and suddenly Yoshizumi realizes that the wonderful life is about love between two people, not career. He tries to expiate his guilt with his self-sacrificial trip to Washington, but when that fails, he embarks on the long, long (two years?) quest back to his new love.
The film turns out to be less of a disaster film and more of a social and political commentary. The demise of humankind is entirely man-made, a product of the Cold War. Even the survivors have to continue paying for the sins of their countries long after the countries have ceased to exist. It\'s funny that the military people continue wearing their uniforms even though they no longer mean anything. It is also funny that the American and Russian admirals quickly usurp the leadership of the government. We should, of course, not forget how the brave British submarine captain (Chuck Connors) blew out of the water those pesky sick Russian sailors that were going to bring the flu to the colony. If one forgives the rather simplistic critique and the \"love conquers all and is the sole meaning of life\" conclusion, the film is quite enjoyable.