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On the Beach (2000 film)

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Adapted from
On the Beach



Drama, Sci-Fi


United StatesAustralia

On the Beach (2000 film) movie poster

Release date
May 28, 2000 (2000-05-28)

2 Episode 2Season 1 - May 28 - 2000, 2 Episode 2, 1 Episode 1Season 1 - May 28 - 2000, 1 Episode 1

(Cmdr. Dwight Towers), (Moira Davidson), (Dr. Julian Osborne), (Mary Davidson Holmes), (Lt. Peter Holmes),
Tieghan Webber
(Jenny Holmes)

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On the Beach is a 2000 apocalyptic made-for-television film directed by Russell Mulcahy and starring Armand Assante, Bryan Brown, and Rachel Ward. It was originally aired on Showtime.


On the Beach (2000 film) movie scenes

The film is a remake of a 1959 film, which was also based on the 1957 novel by Nevil Shute, but updates the setting of the story to the film's then-future of 2005, starting with placing the crew on the fictional Los Angeles-class submarine, USS Charleston (SSN-704).

On the beach 2000 trailer avi


The USS Charleston (SSN-704) is equipped with a caterpillar drive and is on station following a nuclear exchange, under the command of Dwight Towers.

The nuclear war which contaminated the northern hemisphere was preceded by a standoff between the United States and China after the latter blockaded and later invaded Taiwan. Both countries are destroyed, as is most of the world. The submarine crew finds refuge in Melbourne, which the radioactive fallout has not yet reached (though radio communications with several radio operators farther north than Australia indicate that radiation has reached their countries and will be in Australia in a few months). Towers places his vessel under the command of the Royal Australian Navy and is summoned to attend a briefing.

When Towers (Armand Assante), Australian scientist Julian Osborne (Bryan Brown) and Australian liaison officer Peter Holmes (Grant Bowler) find out there is an automated digital broadcast coming from Alaska in the Northern Hemisphere, the submarine is sent to investigate. En route, the submarine surfaces in San Francisco, where the Golden Gate Bridge has collapsed and the city shoreline is in ruins. A crew member who is from San Francisco abandons ship, planning on dying in his home city, and is left by his shipmates after it is argued that the length of time he has spent outside has already made him sick with radiation sickness.

Upon reaching Alaska, Towers and his executive officer go ashore to find no survivors. Entering a house and seeing a dead family huddled on a bed, Towers thinks of his own family and what they must have gone through. The source of the automated digital broadcast is traced to a television station whose broadcast, Towers and his executive officer discover, comes from a solar powered laptop trying to broadcast a documentary via satellite.

Towers returns to Melbourne, where Moira Davidson (Rachel Ward) is waiting for him. Realizing the inevitable nuclear cloud will reach Australia, their impending doom begins to unravel the social fabric of the survivors in Australia and anarchy and chaos erupt. Some choose to live their final weeks recklessly in a deadly car race while others seek a more peaceful means to face the end of their lives. Holmes and his wife (Jacqueline McKenzie) seek solace in their love for each other as Towers and Moira decide to remain together till the end. The remaining crew of the Charleston decide to try to return home, knowing that they may not make it as the majority are showing signs of advanced radiation sickness.


In the film, the Morse code signal picked up by the submarine crew in the original novel and film was updated to an automated digital broadcast powered by a solar-powered laptop computer. The film's picture of human behaviour is darker and more pessimistic than in the original 1959 adaptation, in which social order and manners do not collapse.

Alterations from the book and original film adaptation are made, including a different ending differing from both the novel and film in that the submarine Commander chooses to die with his newfound love instead of scuttling the submarine beyond Australian territorial waters (as in the novel) or attempting to return with his crew to the United States (as in the earlier film). In this version, the Golden Gate Bridge has collapsed and the city shoreline is in ruins, indicating an adjacent nuclear detonation, as in the book but not the first film version. The film ends with the reunion of Towers and Moira while their implied suicides occurring offscreen, as did the original version of Moira in the first film. Unlike the first film, there is no final postmortem scene of deserted Melbourne streets, with the absence of human life depicted.

The film ends with a quote from a Walt Whitman's poem "On The Beach at Night" describing how frightening an approaching cloud bank seemed at night to the poet's child, blotting the stars out one by one, as the father and child stood on the beach on Massachusetts' North Shore. As much as it resembles the plot of the movie and of Shute's novel, however, the book gives only an incidental reference to the Whitman poem, and the phrase "on the beach" is a Royal Navy term that means "retired from the Service."


The film received mixed reviews because with its three-hour account of impending doom, reviewers considered it "slow going". Some film reviewers still found aspects to praise, however. Richard Scheib, the Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review critic saw the film as benefiting from the lengthier timeline, "The mini-series certainly has the luxury to pad the story out and tell it with more length than the film did. As a result there is a greater degree of emotional resonance to the characters than the 1959 film had ... Mostly the mini-series works satisfyingly as a romantic drama, which it does reasonably depending on the extent to which one enjoys these things. Crucially though the mini-series does manage to work as science-fiction and Russell Mulcahy delivers some impressive images of the aftermath of the nuclear holocaust. There are some fine scenes with Armand Assante and the submarine crew walking through the ruins of Anchorage discovering how the people there committed suicide en masse, and some excellent digital effects during the periscope tour of the ruins of San Francisco."

On the Beach received two Golden Globe award nominations and itself was nominated as Best Miniseries or Television Film. Rachel Ward was nominated in the Best Performance by an Actress in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television category for her role as Moira Davidson.


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