The Andromeda Strain

1971, Robert Wise, USA

Director: Robert Wise
Producer: Robert Wise
Screenplay: Nelson Gidding from
  the novel by Michael Crichton
Cinematography: Richard H. Kline
Editors: Stuart Gilmore, John Holmes
Music: Gil Mellé
Arthur Hill (Dr Jeremy Stone)
David Wayne (Dr Charles Dutton)
James Olson (Dr Mark Hall)
Kate Reid (Dr Ruth Leavitt)
Paula Kelly (Karen Anson)
George Mitchell (Jackson)
Ramon Bieri (Major Manchek)

Rating: PG violence Runtime: 131 minutes
Content note: Animal cruelty

Seasoned director Robert Wise (West Side Story, Sound of Music, The Day the Earth Stood Still) and new-comer Michael Crichton (years before he wrote Jurassic Park and Westworld) teamed up in 1971 to create The Andromeda Strain – the story of a mysterious disease outbreak that kills an entire town, and the team of scientists who fight to discover its cure. Although it was a success at the time, the film seems even more relevant today, as we deal with modern pandemics, such as COVID-19.

Wise’s decision to not have any big stars in his cast, but to rather use character actors who were familiar – but not famous – seemed questionable at the time, as big Hollywood films without a star could easily falter at the box office, but in hindsight it was a choice that works well for the story and theme. Again, the recent COVID-19 pandemic offers parallels – how many of us had heard of the CDC’s Dr Anthony Fauci or Aotearoa’s Dr Ashley Bloomfield before March 2020?

Visually, the film may suffer in comparison to a modern CGI spectacle, and many have criticised its slow pace. But the early scenes in the desert town where the dead bodies are discovered is highly regarded, as well as the scenes of the scientists’ underground laboratory — the shiny, curvy production design and sets were very influential. Douglas Trumbull created the special effects for this film, right after his groundbreaking work on 2001: A Space Odyssey and before making Silent Running.


Jun 24 2024


6:15 pm - 8:30 pm