It’s one of the most frustrating phenomena in film to watch, seeing someone so clearly correct and potentially wise get shut down by the people around them because their theories or warnings seem too far-fetched.
As an audience, we know that they’re right – that monster is ripe for striking the city, that megastorm is about to hit mainland any day now and that kid is up to something suspicious – but our poor, long-suffering protagonists just don’t have the luck of getting their pleas heard in time.
If only people had known these crackpots were right all along. Here are 7 cinematic Cassandras.
7. Ellen Ripley – Aliens
After everything Ripley went through aboard the Nostromo, you would think that nobody would dare question the mighty space traveler’s judgment. As the only survivor of the alien attack on her space freighter, Ripley has been drifting across the galaxy in stasis for 57 years, but that’s apparently not enough to convince the newbies that a murderous Alien race exists; it’s also not pause for concern that she’s vehemently insisting that this creature comes from the very same planet where they’re starting to form new colonies.
Sure, take the woman’s pilot’s license away, but you’ll come crying and crawling back to her when the eggs start hatching and the facehuggers start squeezing. Nobody wants to admit they’re wrong, but an apology would have been at least a little nice when the only person smart enough to fight using an exosuit cargo-loader has been called a quack.
6. Jonathan Koestler – Knowing
He knew…he knew! It’s right there in the title. Nicolas Cage’s concerned professor turned a throwaway school assignment from his young son into an all-out search for the next great, possibly world ending disaster because a series of numbers predicted it for him.
Koestler determined that a set of numbers — which, to the untrained, non-MIT mind — might seem just like a random jumble, was actually the dates of every major disaster in the last 50 years, including 9/11. The last three digits refer to a date in the very, very near future. Naturally, it’s up to him to run around town like a chicken with his head cut off warning anyone and everyone about their impending doom, and it’s their noble duty to promptly ignore the insane man talking about the apocalypse in the middle of NYC.
Is it aliens? Is it going to be a wall of cascading flames? Bees?? This can also be applied to pretty much every single Nicolas Cage movie ever made.
5. Crazy Old Maurice – Beauty and the Beast
Belle’s father really had a rough time throughout this supposedly innocuous Disney tale. Already stuck with the “Crazy Old” signifier before his name, Maurice had a bad rap in the poor provincial town as being the local inventor who couldn’t quite get things right with his fantastical inventions and contraptions.
It’s not really his fault – being a brilliant scientist in pre-Industrial Revolution Europe can’t be that easy. There are people in that town sitting in pigsties. So when a fearsome beast kidnaps him and whisks him away to his cliffside castle full of sentient household appliances, then takes his daughter captive in his place, the townspeople aren’t too keen on taking his word for it; it’s just another one of Crazy Old Maurice’s ramblings. It’s kind of lame that it only takes his hot daughter coming back and telling everyone about her adventure for the men to gather up their pitchforks.
4. Dr. Ian Malcom – Jurassic Park
Anyone could have told this group of dumdums that taking a trip to a tropical island where dinosaurs were rebirthed and encouraged to roam the land as they did in their heyday was a poor, poor decision waiting for total disaster – but hey, we have the gift of hindsight.
Dr. Malcom, bestowed with Jeff Goldblum’s sensibility and exposed chest, seemed to zero in on this a little sooner than the rest of his comrades; though all three scientists eventually understand that Jurassic Park is a terrible idea, Malcolm first realizes and explains to Hammond and those attempting to run the place that, guess what…life, uh, finds a way.
Even if every dino on the island started out female, evolution will take over and breeding is going to occur. It’s time to boogie, gang.
3. Principal Rooney – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
It’s not necessarily a disaster he’s attempting to warn the masses about, but Ferris Bueller’s principal was well and determined to prove that his least favorite pupil was playing hooky. Ferris had everyone and their mother in his town convinced that he was on the verge of sweet, merciful death after getting hit with the world’s most mysterious illness – word spreads fast down at Baskin Robbins – but Rooney never bought that line for a minute.
When the most charming, universally liked kid at school is ill, having anyone dare suggest that it’s all a charade is the best way to make enemies, or at least get an eye-roll from the skeptical. Rooney was steadfast in his bizarrely staunch convictions, making it his personal vendetta to continue trying to catch Ferris in the act of ditching school. Maybe there could be better ways to spend his time, maybe he could have considered that it was super creepy to try to break into a teenager’s house during school hours, but hey, maybe we’re just not that dedicated to our jobs.
2. Detective Frank Thorn – Soylent Green
Maybe it’s because we look to Charlton Heston as a figure of authority and all-knowingness in his entire body of work, but it seems just plain absurd that his judgment could be questioned in any way. As a detective in the not too-distant Dystopian future, where people are barely scraping by with little to eat and even less to keep them going until the next day, he’s got a job to do – and he’s uncovered something rancid in the food supply.
In case you weren’t aware, SOYLENT GREEN IS PEOPLE; the high-energy “plankton” ration that the Soylent Corporation has been throwing at the masses to keep them nourished and just a little better off than the brink of death is actually made from the ground up corpses of the poor while the rich dine on vegetables and steak.
His anguished cries are the last we hear of Thorn before the police arrive – and the last guy who figured out the whole “our food is dead guys” secret offed himself, so it’s safe to say that nobody is going to believe him when he makes his little declaration. Anyone hungry for some government-subsidized snacks?
1. Professor Jack Hall – The Day After Tomorrow
As if trying to convince the general public that climate change is real and dangerous weren’t hard enough, Jack (Dennis Quaid) and his colleagues had the heady task of attempting to present their findings from a disturbing trip to Antarctica to the United Nations; melting polar ice is disrupting the ocean currents and dropping the temperature of the ocean…a pattern mimicking what happened in the time leading up to the first Ice Age.
So when the superstorms begin and everything in their path begins to freeze – except Jake Gyllenhaal’s love for Emmy Rossum – it’s kind of a terrible “I told you so” moment. If he weren’t so focused on trying not to die and dealing with subarctic New York City, that is. Let this be a lesson for all of us that we should just listen to anything Neil deGrasse Tyson ever says on television, because he’s probably right.