Saturday, June 21, 2008

"The Summit" on ION: elaborate smallpox plot (very fictitious)


Tonight, ION television aired the four hour film (or “miniseries”) “The Summit”, directed by Nick Copus, written by Kirzanc. (The film had premiered on ION June 15.) The title of the film refers to the “next” G8 summit which conveniently takes place in “northern Ontario” – the woods, 200 miles north of Toronto, in the “main” part of the province usually not shown in road maps. It has to take place there because is a totally Canadian DGC film (I recognized a couple of Vancouver sets used in Smallville), and I thought, with a chuckle, that Summit Pictures itself is a significant indie film company. Not here, though; the film seems to come from Shaftesbury Films and the CBC. The title of the film reminds me of 1960s Irving Wallace novels (like “The Prize” and “The Plot”). The film has some A-list stars like Christopher Plummer, Bruce Greenwood, James Purefoy.

Of course, what matters is the “mega disaster” concept. Here, the elements are a corrupt pharmaceutical company and jihadists. Another potential player is a corrupt government, which in this case means "Blame Canada!" So, what are the pieces of the plot? Develop a live smallpox vaccine, and inject it into immunocompromised people. In fact, deliberately infect some of the marks with HIV if possible first. Then, send a smallpox-infected “typhoid Mary” to the site of the conference, and watch a body count. It’s pretty grisly. The plot starts in Colombia, with the assistance of the drug cartels, and particularly distressing is the use of a teenage boy as one of the first victims (and his mother may be a culprit).

More elements enter into the mega-disaster. The developing countries threaten to default on their debt, so that the entire Bretton Woods financial system can come to a collapse.

Somehow the G8 summit continues, although the premises get locked down for 48 hours. It seems that they really conceal the outbreak. But there are plenty of scenes of grass roots violent demonstrations. At the end, the reported starts coming down with symptoms on the air, bleeding from the nose, as she says, “there is no evidence that there ever was a smallpox outbreak at the summit.”

These miniseries are too long and too hysterical to be really effective. A much better film about the smallpox risk came from British director Dan Percival and Fox in 2002, “called “Smallpox 2002: Silent Weapon” which shows the relentless progress of an epidemic through New York and London.

We do need to think about a revaccination program. I can see my own scar now.

The major film on corruption in pharmaceutical companies came from Focus in 2005, with director Fernando Meirelles, "The Constant Gardner."

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