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Meteor is a 1979 disaster film in which scientists detect an asteroid on a collision course with Earth and struggle with international, cold war politics in their efforts to prevent disaster. The movie starred Sean Connery and Natalie Wood.

It was directed by Ronald Neame and with a screenplay by Edmund H. North and Stanley Mann, "inspired" by an MIT report Project Icarus. The movie co-starred Karl Malden, Brian Keith, Martin Landau, Trevor Howard, Henry Fonda, Johnny Yune, and Katherine DeHetre. It was one of the last and least regarded films from the 1970s disaster genre.

With universally negative reviews (it made numerous "Worst Of" lists for that year's movies), it proved unpopular with audiences, losing millions in the process, and is considered to be one of the reasons for the downfall of American International Pictures. According to one biography of Natalie Wood, she and most others in the cast knew early on this film was going to be a dud, mainly due to the director and the script.


A collision between a comet and an asteroid named Orpheus takes place. Now the meteor Orpheus, which is five miles wide, is on a collision course with Earth. While the United Statesmarker government and military engage in political maneuvering, other smaller and faster moving fragments rain down on Earth. The major plot point involves secret orbiting nuclear missile platforms, one put up by Dr. Bradley's (Connery) team for the U.S., named Hercules and another constructed by his counterpart in the Soviet Unionmarker, nicknamed Peter the Great by Dubov. The American president (Fonda) is advised by military leaders against admitting the existence of Hercules, at the same time the Soviets are reluctant to admit to the existence of its orbital weapons.

The President goes on national television and reveals the existence of Hercules, explaining it as a foresighted project to meet the threat that Orpheus represents. He also offers the Soviets a chance to save face and join in by saying they had the same foresight and have their own. Bradley requested a scientist named Dr. Alexei Dubov (Keith) to help him plan a countereffort against Orpheus.

Bradley and Sherwood have already arrived at the control center for Hercules, which is located beneath the Bell System building in downtown New Yorkmarker. Major-General Adlon (Landau) is the commander of the facility. Dubov and his assistant (and English voice) Tatiana Donskaya (Natalie Wood) arrive and Bradley works at breaking the ice of distrust held by Hercules commander Adlon. Since Dubov cannot admit the existence of the Soviet device, he agrees to Bradley's proposal that they work on the "theoretical" application of how a "theoretical" Soviet platform's weapons would be coordinated with the American ones.

Meanwhile, further fragments of the meteor affect the Earth. The Soviets finally admit that they have the device and are willing to join in the effort. The satellite, christened Peter the Great by the joint US-Soviet team working at Hercules control, and Hercules are turned around to aim into space. On Sunday morning, Peter the Great's missiles are fired off because of its position along the orbit, Hercules is fired 40 minutes later.

Hercules is launched, and a moment later, New York is wiped out by a fragment of the meteor (one scene shows the World Trade Centermarker destroyed in a giant fireball). Several workers inside the control center are killed when the facility is partially destroyed. The survivors slowly work their way out of what has become a trap, dealing with the East Rivermarker breaking into the tunnels. Meanwhile, the two sets of missiles are linking up into three waves of mixed nationality. The Hercules crew reach a subway station filled with other people and wait while others try to dig out. The radio stations broadcast news of the result: Orpheus has been either obliterated or shifted to a harmless trajectory. Just then, the subway station occupants are rescued.

Later, the scene switches to an airport with a Soviet flag and an American flag on a hanger door. from here, Dubov and Tatiana say goodbye to Bradley and others, then they board a plane with the Soviet star and it takes off for Russia..


The voiceover at the end of the film mentions "Project Icarus," a report on the concept to use missiles to deflect an asteroid which was the "inspiration" upon which the movie was based. This refers to the report Project Icarus originally a student project at M.I.T.marker for a systems engineering class. Time magazine ran an article on the endeavor in June 1967 and the following year the student report was published as a book.

Similar films

  • Many elements of the movie's plot were used in the 1998 films Armageddon and Deep Impact.
  • A 2009 film with the same title and a similar plot, Meteor , was broadcast by NBC as a 4-hour, 2-part miniseries.

See also

  • Asteroid deflection strategies
  • 1979 Stern Electronics released a pinball machine named Meteor. The backglass art was very close to one of the versions of the movie poster art for the film Meteor.


  1. "MIT Course Precept for Movie, The Tech, Oct. 3 1979
  2. ' 'Project Icarus
  3. METEOR (DVD Review)
  4. Project Icarus, M.I.T. Report No. 13, M.I.T. Press 1968; reissued 1979

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