Close Encounters In Siberia Review: Transformers Upstaged By Giant Rock

June 16, 2009 by  
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CLOSE ENCOUNTERS: SIBERIA, Tuesday 16 June 2009, More 4, 10pm Alert Me

Remember that crop of disaster movies we had around the mid-nineties?

You know, the ones where nature’s fury was unleashed upon the world. It seemed like you couldn’t leave your house without Mother Nature spitting in your eye. The end times were nigh in the form of volcanoes (Volcano, Dante’s Peak), tornados (Twister) and asteroid collisions (Armageddon, Deep Impact).

But in early 20th century Siberia, being annihilated by an asteroid was almost a reality.

Close Encounters: Siberia is a documentary about the Tunguska impact, a massive comet or asteroid which, in 1908, flattened over 80 million trees in an area of over 800 square miles. The event was largely unreported at the time due to it being in such a remote area but the sky was lit so brightly in London that you could play a tennis match at midnight.

There have been several programmes made about Tunguska but this one, which marks the 100th anniversary of the incident, is one of the few that delves into the cultural impact of the event.

The documentary has a great range of clips ranging from archive footage of Kullik, the first man to take an expedition to the Evenik nomads who are native to the area – they believe it was Ogdy, their god of thunder who decided to demonstrate his displeasure.

There are also a group of people that make a yearly pilgrimage to Tunguska, convinced of its deific significance. “What’s the connection between Tunguska and God?? asks the narrator. “Direct?, replies the man who then refuses to answer any more questions.

There are also a few who believe that it was alien intervention that saved earth from being destroyed – one man claiming to have a fragment of an alien spacecraft of an unknown metallic alloy on display in a museum he’s built dedicated to the event.

Even the scientists are arguing. Whilst it’s clear it was an astral body of some kind that hit the earth, the exact details haven’t been agreed upon, so scientists and pilgrims alike still visit the area trying to find their own truths.

It’s a remarkable and informative insight into the cultural phenomenon that’s sprung up around the event and gets right up close and personal to all concerned. Apparently, if the blast happened four hours later, it would have wiped out Leningrad, dramatically altering history.

Still, look on the bright side, at least Michael Bay wouldn’t have needed to make a movie about it.

Jez Sands

And that’s probably a great place to tell you about our review of the shiniest, most toy-a-riffic movie of the summer, Michael Bay’s Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen. About as cerebral as a disco ball toaster apparently….