πŸŽ₯ The Andromeda Strain – 1971

The Story …

Dr. Jeremy Stone recounts the events before the United States Senate Committee on Space Sciences in 1971 …

After a U.S. government satellite crashes near the small rural town of Piedmont, New Mexico, on February 5, nearly all the residents are dead.

A military recovery team from Vandenberg Air Force Base attempts to recover the satellite but dies while trying to do so. Suspecting that the satellite has brought back an alien organism, the military activates an elite team of scientists …

Dr. Stone, the team leader, and Dr. Mark Hall, a surgeon, are dropped in by helicopter.

They discover the town’s doctor opened the satellite in his office and that all of his blood has crystallized into a powder, the same death befalling nearly all of the town.

Stone and Hall retrieve the satellite and find two survivors, 69-year-old alcoholic Peter Jackson and six-month-old crying infant Manuel Rios.

The elite team also includes Dr. Charles Dutton and Dr. Ruth Leavitt, who join them at a top-secret Nevada underground facility, code named Wildfire.

They go through four sub-levels of decontamination procedures, arriving at the fifth sub-level laboratories. If the organism threatens to escape, the Wildfire facility includes an automatic nuclear self-destruct mechanism to incinerate all infectious agents.

Under the “odd man hypothesis”, Dr. Hall is entrusted with the only key that can deactivate the device, the theory being that an unmarried male is the most dispassionate person within a group to make critical decisions in a crisis.

Examining the satellite, the team discovers the microscopic alien organism that caused the deaths. The greenish, throbbing life form is assigned the code name “Andromeda.”

Infecting through the lungs, Andromeda kills biological life almost instantly via a blood clot in the brain and asphyxiation. It appears to be highly virulent.

The team studies the organism using animal subjects, an electron microscope, and culturing in various growth media to learn how it behaves. The microbe contains the hydrogen and carbon required for terrestrial life and appears to have a crystalline structure, but lacks the DNA, RNA, proteins, and amino acids present in all forms of terrestrial life, and directly transforms energy to matter with no discernible byproducts.

Hall tries to determine why the two Piedmont residents survived. Unknown to the others, Leavitt’s research on the germ is impaired by her undisclosed epilepsy.

A military jet crashes near Piedmont after the pilot radios that his plastic oxygen mask is dissolving.

Hall realizes that the alcoholic Jackson survived because his blood was acidic from drinking Sterno, and that the baby lived due to his blood being too alkaline from constant crying, suggesting that Andromeda can survive only within a narrow range of blood pH.

Just as he has this insight, the organism mutates into a non-lethal form that degrades synthetic rubber and plastic.

Andromeda escapes the biocontainment room into the lab where Dutton is working. When Andromeda causes all the laboratory’s seals to start decaying, a five-minute countdown to nuclear destruction is initiated. Hall rescues Leavitt from an epileptic seizure, triggered by the flashing red lights of Wildfire’s alarm system.

The team realizes that the microbe would thrive on the energy of a nuclear explosion and would consequently be transformed into a super-colony that could destroy all life on Earth.

Hall races to reach a functioning station where he can disable the nuclear bomb with his key. He endures multiple attacks by automated lasers as he climbs through the laboratory’s central core. He finds a working station, disables the bomb with seconds to spare, and collapses.

Hall awakens in a hospital. His colleagues reveal that clouds are being seeded over the Pacific Ocean, which will cause rain to sweep Andromeda from the atmosphere and into alkaline seawater, rendering it harmless.

Stone finishes testifying by saying that while they were able to defeat the alien pathogen, they may be unable to do so in the future. The film ends with a computer feed suddenly stopping and the computer flashing the number “601”, the Wildfire code for information coming in too fast to analyze.

Credits :

  • Directed by Robert Wise
  • Screenplay by Nelson Gidding
  • Based on The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
  • Produced by Robert Wise
  • Cinematography :Β  Richard H. Kline
  • Edited by Stuart Gilmore and John W. Holmes
  • Music by Gil MellΓ©
  • Production Company : Universal Pictures
  • Distributed by Universal Pictures
  • Release Date : March 12, 1971

Cast :

  • Arthur Hill as DrΒ  Jeremy Stone
  • David Wayne as DrΒ  Charles Dutton
  • James Olson as DrΒ  Mark Hall
  • Kate Reid as Dr Ruth Leavitt
  • Paula Kelly as Karen Anson (Wildfire nurse)
  • George Mitchell as Jackson
  • Ramon Bieri as Major Arthur Manchek (Scoop Mission Control)
  • Kermit Murdock as Dr Robertson (White House Science Advisor)
  • Richard O’Brien as Grimes
  • Peter Hobbs as General Sparks
  • Eric Christmas as Senator from Vermont
  • Joe Di Reda as Sgt. Burk
  • Carl Reidel as Lt. Comroe
  • Ken Swofford as Toby
  • Frances Reid as Clara Dutton
  • Richard Bull as Air Force Major
  • John Carter as MP Captain Morton
  • Midori Arimoto as Bess

Film Information Source :


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