Whatever you think of Roland Emmerich’s work (and I’m frankly torn on the subject), he is certainly drawn toward the spectacular — and spectacularly destructive — most of his films being in some way apocalyptic in approach. He also seems to be engaged in “writing love letters to the makers of 1950s sci-fi films” (Stan G. Hyde), such as Ray Harryhausen and George Pal. I’d expand that date into the 1960s, but the principle’s the same.
His Godzilla (1998) was an unacknowledged remake of The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953) more than it was a remake of Gojira (1954). Independence Day (1996) channeled War of the Worlds (1953) — and V from 1983, of course. The Day After Tomorrow (2004) may perhaps be seen more as a classic example of 1970s paranoia, even though the source of the destruction isn’t nuclear war, but it also evokes apocalyptic epics such as Val Guest’s The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961). And of course 10,000 B.C. (2008) was definitely in the tradition of One Million Years B.C. (1966) and When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970). The title tells us that.
Anyway now that the extended trailer of Emmerich’s new über-apocalyptic epic, 2012, has hit the internet, it becomes clear that it is, at least in part, a “love letter” to the George Pal produced When Worlds Collide (1951). Take a look and you’ll see why.
It rather reminds me of the famous — and famously difficult to find — Japanese film, Nosutoradamusu no daiyogen [aka Prophecies of Nostradamus; Catastrophe 1999: The Prophecies of Nostradamus; The Last Days of Planet Earth] (Japan-1974; dir. Toshio Masuda), with its emphasis on esoteric prophecies of universal disaster that takes a multitude of forms.
For what it’s worth, 2012 is said to be the most expensive film ever made….