Disaster Movies vs. Real Emergencies: What Can Audiences Learn?


The Hollywood cinema has created disaster movies since the beginning. From Leonardo Di Caprio’s Titanic to Brad Pitt’s World War Z, there are hundreds of films on disasters and real-life emergencies. But have these movies taught us anything? Have they prepared us to handle a calamity? For example, did the famous Firestorm of 1998 highlight the importance of quality fire warden training in case of emergencies? Well, the answer to this question is a little complex. Let’s compare some great disaster movies with real emergencies and determine what the audience learned. 

Global Pandemics

The 2011 film Contagion is one of the top-grossing disaster movies of all time. It is an action thriller in which a character infected with a deadly virus is unaware of her condition. She travels to another place and accidentally transmits it to hundreds of different people, which starts a global pandemic. 

Sounds a little familiar? This is exactly how the tragic 2020 coronavirus pandemic started! The movie shows a worldwide situation where hospitals are overwhelmed, economies are destroyed, and people are focused on social distancing and hygiene practices, just like what happened during the 2020 pandemic in the real world. 

However, it doesn’t show the anxiety and loneliness that prevailed as a result of quarantine. The rise of remote work and weeks-long lockdowns has completely transformed our generation. No Hollywood movie on pandemics ever recognizes these hidden consequences. So, while cinematography had somewhat prepared us for the possibility of a global pandemic, we didn’t know how much it could change the world. 


The zombie apocalypse is a popular concept around the world. Resident Evil, Train to Busan, I am Legend – you can find uncountable blockbuster films on zombies. The plot is somewhat similar in all of them, though. 

Drawing of zombies taking selfies during a Halloween party.
Disaster Movies vs. Real Emergencies: What Can Audiences Learn?

The protagonists are carrying on with their usual life chores when suddenly the zombie apocalypse outbreaks. They are typically trapped somewhere, which gives them the time to process the situation and take steps accordingly. They survive at the end.

Till now, the world has not experienced this disaster, and we hope it never happens again. However, we have learned some great strategies and tips to survive from these human-eating monsters.

Natural Disasters

Hollywood movies typically showcase natural disasters at extreme levels. Be it an earthquake or tsunami, the disaster is big enough to affect several countries at once. This results in mass-scale destruction and death. 

San Andreas (2015)
Disaster Movies vs. Real Emergencies: What Can Audiences Learn?

These movies are filled with action and drama. Most of the elements don’t make sense. For example, the protagonist in San Andreas has all the necessary skills not only to survive a massive earthquake but also to rescue his children. This doesn’t represent the average man and isn’t realistic enough. 

However, natural disaster films often emphasize the importance of preparedness in the face of unexpected challenges. They teach us to unite and support one another during times of crisis. In addition, they show the potential consequences of a negligent attitude towards the environment. This can make us think about that and try to take care of it in one way or another.

Last Words 

All in all, it’s fair to say that most Hollywood disaster movies don’t prepare us for real-life emergencies. They are heavily focused on the character dynamics and the visual effects. However, we can take some points into account. It’s important to be proactive in this case and participate in safety training programs. Knowledge will help you survive much better than a Hollywood movie.

- Advertisement -
Verification: 0b7d225104f108aaa0e729050cb4fc1e