Ring of Fire (1991) Movie Script

Our earth was born of fire.
For two billion years.
volcanoes spewed forth
the magma which the waking
earth would use to build
itself into being.
Volcanoes also vented the gases
which would form
the Earth's atmosphere
and the oceans.
Where life itself was born.
Then in the last seconds
of geologic time
a life form emerged
that would seek to
understand creation itself.
Today, more than 400 active volcanoes
shape life on the pacific rim.
Geologists call it "The Ring of Fire."
From Navidad in Chile and the
volcanoes of the Andes...
to the ancient ash-covered empires
of Mesoamerica...
past San Francisco on
the San Andreas fault.
To Mount St. Helens and the
cascades of America's Northwest...
To the great volcanic island arcs
of the Aleutians.
and Japan.
With sacred Mount Fuji...
and explosive Mount Sakurajima...
to Indonesia, home of Krakatoa...
and Gunung Agung.
Here where half a billion people
dwell is a window on the awesome
geological forces that
shape our planet.
At the very center of the ring of fire,
on the island of Hawaii
exists a lake of molten lava.
In this fiery lake can be seen a likeness
of the Earth's crust
and the geologic forces that shape it.
The Earth's thin crust is formed
of great tectonic plates
which are in constant motion.
Spreading. Colliding.
Grinding past one another.
And plunging back into
the molten interior.
Around the ring of fire,
collisions of the Earth's
tectonic plates produce earthquakes.
And the most violent natural
phenomenon on earth.
This is Navidad volcano
in southern Chile
which burst from the Earth
on christmas day 1988
and grew to a height
of 1,000 feet in a month.
Few people died in this sparsely
populated region.
Yet the immense geological
forces on the ring of fire
can just as easily strike at
the heart of civilization.
7,000 miles north on the ring of fire.
two tectonic plates
meet at a great fault
called the San Andreas,
which lies like a time bomb
beneath the city of San Francisco.
In 1906, a massive earthquake
destroyed this city.
and in the years that followed
San Francisco waited as the stresses
again built up along the fault.
Until one october day in 1989.
The third game of the world series
was about to begin
between the two bay area teams.
The San Francisco Giants
and the Oakland A's.
We're having an earthquake. We're
having an earthquake hold on.
One of the bridges collapsed.
Serious damage on the Bay Bridge.
Part of the upper deck collapsing.
I've never seen anything like this.
There's a major fire burning in
the marina district.
It started at the northeast corner
of Beach and Divisidero streets.
A building there collapsed and
burst into flames.
That is completely collapsed.
That's the upper section collapsing
into the lower section of the cypress.
A truck is upside down. We need
something to pry the door open.
We need something
to pry the door open.
The earthquake lasted
less than 15 seconds
but 62 people were dead and
nearly 4,000 injured.
42 died in the collapse
of the nimitz freeway.
More than 20,000 homes and buildings
were damaged or destroyed
during the quake.
Yet it struck with 1/30th of the energy
of the great quake of 1906.
Engineers learned a great deal
from what structures
survived the quake and what failed.
A 50-foot section of the
bay bridge collapsed
where the forces generated
by the earthquake
sheared the bolts on
one side of the span.
The bridge was repaired and
reopened in the month.
Built on landfill dwellings in
the marina district broke apart...
the unstable ground beneath them
actually magnifying the
effects of the quake.
Buildings engineered to withstand the
greatest earthquakes stood strong.
And so did the people.
Everybody helped each other.
It was like one big family out there.
It knocked us down,
but it didn't knock us out.
There are disasters everywhere.
Everyone lives under
some kind of threat.
If it's not an earthquake,
it's a tornado or hurricane.
It's a beautiful city, regardless.
i love it here. i'll never leave.
10 days after this quake.
we went back to baseball.
Now. That's...
that's the spirit of San Francisco.
Though the flags flew at half-mast.
The fans reunited at candlestick park
to resume a world series
and a game turned into
a celebration of renewal.
600 miles north of San Francisco
is the site of the greatest
volcanic eruption in
modern american history.
Mount St. Helens.
Near where he stood that
sunday morning in 1980.
Photographer Gary Rosenquist
recalls the moment.
At dawn I noticed through some trees
steam at the very top of the mountain.
I got my camera and I just started
taking pictures, and the whole side
of the mountain was sliding away.
I was so excited.
I couldn't concentrate.
It was just amazing. I'd never
seen anything like that before.
240 square miles of woodland
were devastated in the eruption.
57 people and millions
of animals were killed.
Today. A ghostly forest still floats
on the surface of spirit lake.
Across the landscape
of fallen timber
life is reappearing at a rate
that has a astonished biologists.
Deep within the crater, a lava dome
formed in st. helens' volcanic throat
has risen over a thousand feet.
The mountain is rebuilding itself.
With his fellow geologists
from the Cascades
Volcano Observatory
dr. Norman Banks
is credited with saving
thousands of lives.
Our monitoring data
convinced the governor
who was also a scientist,
that an eruption possibly
of significant magnitude
was developing.
Since the explosive eruptions of 1980
we have had to work very
close to the center of activity.
That is the dome itself
to detect the changes
that allow us to forecast
the next eruption.
You can't predict future
eruptions of a volcano
until you know its character.
Some of the instrumentation we use
can be as simple as our own senses.
But to provide data that's quantifiable
we have to resort to high-tech
equipment such as seismometers
deformation equipment,
and gas analysis.
What we're after here
is to obtain the ability
to save thousands of lives
repeatedly around the ring of fire.
Several weeks after the team
left the mountain
the lava dome exploded
without warning.
Volcanologists foresee even greater
eruptions in the future.
For the forces which
created and destroyed
Mount St. Helens contines
powerful beyond our imaginings.
Deep within the earth above a core
of iron and nickel
is a mantle of lighter elements
heated by natural radioactivity.
Over millions of years
the mantle behaves like a heated fluid.
The thin plates of the earth's crust
float like huge rafts adrift
on the fluid mantle.
The heavier plates of the
spreading sea floor
sink beneath the continental plates
creating earthquakes
around the pacific rim.
The sinking plates release
superhot fluids
which melt the mantle above them.
The lighter magma rises
forming complex volcanic conduits
and immense magma chambers
on its way to eruption.
Through repeated eruptions
this tectonic process
has formed the volcanoes
of the ring of fire.
Mount Sakurajima is one of
hundreds of volcanoes
which make up the
island arc of Japan.
The fire drummers of
Mount Sakurajima
enact the fury of the volcano.
Each year, Sakurajima explodes
in scores of ash eruptions
which blanket the island
and the port city of Kagoshima.
An annual evacuation drill
commemorates the terrible eruption
of Sakurajima volcano in 1914.
The islanders live in harmony
with active volcano
which affects nearly every
aspect of their lives.
Across the bay in the city of
Kagoshima, even the shopping malls
have been designed
with domed skylights
to keep out the regular
storms of ash.
Life goes on for a people living
in the shadow of destruction.
Kagoshima survives, in part,
because of the vigilance
of the scientists
who live and work at
the center of the bay
on the very flank of the volcano.
Here every fluctuation
of the volcano
is carefully monitored by a
team of volcanologists
headed by dr. Kusuke Kamo.
Vigilance is a way of life
in a country with
more than 50 active volcanoes
and more than 10,000 earthquakes
every year.
In the great Tokyo earthquake of 1923
more than 140,000 people perished
mostly from the fires
started by the quake.
Today the people of Tokyo
are part of a national
earthquake preparedness program
designed to save thousands of lives.
Buildings are structurally
engineered to survive
the tremendous forces generated
by earthquakes.
No people on earth are as prepared
for natural disaster as the japanese.
Humans are not the only primates
adapted to life on the ring of fire.
Heat from volcanic sources
warms the hot springs of Nagano
allowing the japanese snow monkey
to survive as the world's
most northerly species of monkey.
In Beppu, people have
also learned to live
with volcanic powers,
harnessing their
geothermal energy for health
and relaxation.
The therapeutic hot springs
of Kirishima...
and the lava sand baths of Beppu
have become popular health spas.
A respite from the relentless
pace of modern life
which, in Japan, is always
just a step away.
3,000 miles southwest,
where the ring of fire
crosses the equator
buddhas keep watch
over the volcanoes of Indonesia
at the temple of Borobudur.
Writer/anthropologist Lawrence Blair
has lives in Indonesia for many years
studying the ancient bond between
its volcanoes and its people.
The temple of Borobudur...
it was built in
this highly unstable valley
to commemorate
the achievement, not of
architectural engineering
but of serene harmony
in the human heart.
For 10 centuries, it has survived
earthquakes and eruption
which have long since eclipsed
the enlightened empire which built it.
For Indonesia is the most fertile
and eruptive nation on the planet.
Perhaps the long memory of
a shifting, unstable earth
has taught the indonesians
to rely less
on the physical world
than on the unseen forces behind it.
Deep within the crater of
the notorious volcano
of Kawah Idgen, there are those who
seek their living directly from
the cauldrons of hell.
For here is a rare surface
source of pure sulfur
to be mined by hand and
borne on their backs
for 15 miles down the volcano's slopes.
Within their lungs
the poisonous fumes
turn into sulfuric acid
condemning them to a life of
less than 30 years.
Still they accept Kawah Idgen's terms
grateful for the volcano's gift
confident of their destiny
beyond this world of shadows.
On the indonesian island of Bali
towers the sacred volcano
of Gunung Agung.
"The Navel of the Universe."
Worshippers still climb the flanks
of the sacred mountain
where, in 1963, thousands died
in an eruption of superheated
ash flows.
High on the slopes of
the sleeping volcano
at the surviving mother temple
of all bali
the kecak dance unfolds.
A ring of fire pulsates as
a single organism
but is soon divided by strife.
Two god kings emerge
leaders of the warring opposites.
The king of the monkey people...
and the king of the demons.
Their battles violently divide
then reunite the community
restoring its balance
just as the holy mountain above
regularly destroys and renews.
The rich, fertile land, which is
the wealth of Indonesia
is a gift of the volcanoes.
A deep and ancient understanding
of the connection
between life and death gives
indonesians an easy intimacy
with both the creative and the
destructive powers
of the earth and with
their own mortality.
In Bali even the bodies of the
dead together with their
finest funeral arts
are returned to fire.
To god Shiva's purifting furnace
of renewal and rebirth.
The fire god in different forms,
is alive atop nearly all of
Indonesia's some 140 volcanoes
reflecting an ancient understanding
that paradise and catastrophe
go hand in hand.
To witness creation in all its power
we return to the very center
of the ring of fire.
The volcanic island of Hawaii
has been created
in just a few million years.
Measured from its base
on the Pacific floor
Mauna Loa is the tallest
mountain on Earth,
and together with its
sister volcano Kilauea
it is among the most active.
In 1984, Mauna Loa and Kilauea
came to life in rare
simulaneous eruptions.
For 21 days and nights
Pele, the Hawaiian goddess
of volcanoes, danced.
Unlike the explosive strato-
volcanoes on the pacific rim,
the more fluid lavas of
most hawaiian volcanoes
form fiery lakes and rivers,
which flow down
the broad slopes of
the great hawaiian
shield volcanoes toward the sea.
The Mauna Loa eruption ended,
but Kilauea continued to erupt,
and between the volcano and the sea
lay the village of Kalapana.
Beneath the cooled surface,
the lava continued to flow,
forming its own underground arteries
as it rushed toward the sea.
Shere the lava flows into the ocean,
the island frows.
This is the newest land on Earth.
In less than a year, life will emerge.
In less than a decade.
hundreds of species
of plants and animals have returned
to Mount St. Helens.
In less than a century, forests
filled with life
will once again dominate the land.
Creation did not happen just once.
Creation continues.
It is a beginning without end.
The Earth is alive.
We recognize it in the volcanoes
of the ring of fire.
And we bear witness to it
in the indomitable spirit of its peoples.