Geology Home Page physical geology historical geology planetary gems
Roger Weller, geology instructor
by Amber Stilwell
Geology in Filmmaking??
I am writing this paper in order to share a very recent discovery with you all!
Geology is a science widely used in filmmaking! No, I am not kidding you.
It really is. It can be used for creating action, it can be used for
providing awesome filming locations, and most importantly, it can be used to
inspire creation of new worlds!
Creating action is important in the film industry, and I have personally seen
geology being used in many instances to do just that. Take the movie 2012
for example. It used the geology of the earthís plate tectonics to create
a world wide cataclysmic event that included super-volcanoes exploding, the
earthís crust breaking into pieces, and most importantly, the flooding of the
shows the action created by the geological process of the earthís crust breaking
apart and creating quite a bit of action in the home city of one of the main
characters in the movie.
The movie Sahara is also a good example of a film that used geology to create
action. Towards the end of the film, the characters learn that toxic waste is
getting into the desertís underground waterbed. They also learn that those toxic
materials are creating a contaminant plume.
In the movie
this contaminant plume could threaten human existence by creating a reaction in
the groundwater located in the underground water table that would poison the
entire earthís water supply. This of course, creates action in the movies when
the good guys have to prevent the waste from becoming uncontrollable.
Although many of these events, including those stated above, used in movies are
over-exaggerated, the facts provide a great base to start from. Film crews can
use the geologic facts to build off of to create action, excitement, and
suspense in the movie.
Another way, as previously stated, that uses geology in filmmaking is using the
earthís geology to provide awesome filming locations. Letís face it, if the
geology of our planet was any different, we would be much less interested in all
the scenic shots we see in movies.
The greatest examples of geological importance in filming locations would have
to include The Lord of the Rings movies and also The Hobbit: An Unexpected
the picture below, the fellowship is traveling across the country of middle
earth. (AKA: New Zealand)
this picture, you can see how the director of the movies used the scenery of New
Zealand to create a dramatic filming location for one of the cities in Middle
the picture below you can see how, once again, the director used the landscape
of New Zealand to create a dramatic spot for one of the cities in the movie.
Just imagine what Peter Jackson, the director, would have had to work with to
provide the feel of Middle Earth, if he didnít have the fantastic islands of New
Zealand to work with. Those islands were, in fact, formed by the geological
movement of plate tectonics that made volcanoes, and then, later on, islands. I
mean, honestly, how tragic would it be if we didnít have these awesome locations
to shoot awesome pictures at? The movies would be boring, and Peter Jackson
would not have been able to achieve the affect of realism in these movies
Although action and filming locations are very important, the area I find most
fascinating is the inspiration acquired from our own planetís geology to create
whole new planets for the screen.
Great examples of movies that did this would have to be the Star Wars
franchise and Avatar. George Lucas, the director of the Star Wars
franchise, creatively used the geology of our planet to create countless new and
original planets. The greatest of these planets that were featured in the movies
would have to include the planets, Tatooine, Hoth, and Mustafar.
Tatooine is the most featured planet of them all. Appearing in every movie of
the series except Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Itís geology is
clearly inspired by the geology of the deserts and dunes we see here on earth.
Below is an example of one of the famous deserts here on earth: the Sahara.
Below here we see one of the main characters standing looking off into the
distance over the dunes that are very similar to what we see above.
is clear, there is nothing but sand for miles and miles. The image from space
below shows that George Lucas used the deserts we have, and then exaggerated the
circumstances to create an entirely new planet.
Hoth is also a fascinating planet. It is completely covered in ice and snow and
was definitely inspired by the fascinating structural geology of the icy and
cold areas on earth today. One of the most famous areas here would be Greenland.
Below you can see an example of what it looks like.
Then, an example of what Hoth looks like in the movies.
in the case of Tatooine, you can see that George Lucas applied the same
technique to make Hoth. He used existing geology, exaggerated it, and gave it a
The planet Mustafar is the most dangerously fascinating out of the three, being
covered almost entirely by lava. This very interesting planet would not have
come into being had we not had the same geological processes transpiring here on
earth. Below is a picture of typical volcanism.
Then, an few examples of how Lucas applied his technique to make a new world
consisting mostly of volcanic rock and lava.
One of the coolest planets Iíve seen in filming would have to be Pandora, the planet featured in the movie Avatar. This beautiful planet is covered in lush forest but does not fail to include other areas such as deserts and oceans, as you can see from the view of the planet below.
Below this view are examples of the beautiful lush forest I spoke about. As you
can see, the views are breathtaking.
consider the design and creation of each of these planets to be completely
original. However, ideas we come up with are all inspired by knowledge already
attained. So we can conclude that without the geology of our planet, there would
be no inspiration to create new ones to use in film.
All in all, geology is indeed a very important part of all of our lives. Without
it, our lives would be quite boring. But more importantly that that, the movies
we watch and enjoy would be terribly boring as well! Unthinkable! Therefore, I
am extremely thankful for the science of geology!
Images: 1: http://geekoutlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/1012/-Movie.jpg, 2: http://skywalker.cochise.edu/weller/VGM/opals-pals/096.htm, 3: www.oocities.org, 4: www.shameesyoung.com, 5: affairsmagazine.com, 6: www.livesource.com, 7: stellarplanet.blogspot.com, 8: en.wikipedia.org, 9: www.nationalgeographic.com, 10: historyrat.wordpress.com, 11: en.wikipedia.org, 12: www.buzzle.com, 13: starwars.wikia.com, 14: starwars.wikia.com, 15: james-camerons-avatar.wikia.com, 16: jerrygarrett.wordpress.com, 17: james-camerons-avatar.wikia.com
The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Star Wars: The Phantom Menace
Star Wars: The Attack of the Clones
Star Wars: The Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars: A New Hope
Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi