Sci-Fi Film Fiesta: The Andromeda Strain (1971)

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Public report of the findings

of the

Senate Committee on Space Sciences

Washington, D.C

April 1, 1972

Project Scoop, Wildfire & The Andromeda Strain

The following account contains a report of a “four-day history of a major American scientific crisis.” put together with the assistance and from the testimonies of many people attached to Project Scoop at Vandenberg Air Force Base and the Wildfire Laboratory in Flatrock, Nevada. This committee is determined to set forth “the story accurately and in detail. The documents presented here are soon to be made public. They do not in any way jeopardize the national security.”

The following events are also based on the testimony of Dr. Jeremy Stone who appeared before the United States Senate Committee on Space Sciences on April 14, 1971:


• February 5 1971 crash of a US. government satellite near Piedmont, New Mexico.

• Nearly all the town’s residents were discovered deceased.

• Vandenberg Air Force Base military team attempted satellite recovery but was unsuccessful.

• Satellite suspected of bringing back alien organism.

• Elite team of scientists recruited to investigate and contain organism.

• Discovery of highly virulent microscopic alien organism as being cause of the deaths in New Mexico.

• The life form assigned the code name “Andromeda.”

• It was determined that Andromeda;

1. Is inhaled through the lungs and kills biological life almost instantly by means of a blood clot in the brain and blood clotting causing asphyxiation.

2. Contains chemical elements such as hydrogen and carbon, the necessary requirements for terrestrial life.

3. Appears to have a crystalline structure, but lacks the DNA, RNA, proteins, and amino acids, the basis of all terrestrial life,

4. Directly transforms energy to matter with no evident by-products.

5. Mutated into a non-lethal form that degrades synthetic rubber and plastics.

6. Can survive only within a narrow range of blood pH.

7. Would thrive on the energy of a nuclear explosion and would consequently be transformed into a super-colony that could destroy all life on Earth.

DAY ONE: (February 5, 1971)

Two Air Force men, Lt. Shawn and Sgt. Crane conducted reconnaissance on the small town of Piedmont, New Mexico, population 68, using night vision equipment. They drove their van into town, while maintaining direct communication with Vandenberg AFB, Scoop Mission Control. The following is a transcript of their report:

‘This is Caper One to Vandal Deca. Caper One to Vandal Deca. Are you reading Over.’

‘Yes, I’m reading. Over.’

‘We’re about to enter the town of Piedmont and recover the satellite.’

‘Very good, Caper One. Leave your radio open.’

‘Roger. We’re now inside the town. It’s kinda spooky. I see a church steeple ahead on the left. It’s quiet here. It’s the damndest thing. There’s no sign of life. The signals from the satellite are getting very strong. Sir! You see that, Lieutenant?– ‘See what, Crane?’- Over by the fence. It looks like a body. – ‘Easy, Crane. You’re imagining things. Holy…’ – Sir, it’s another one. – ‘You’re right. Looks dead.’-
Yes, sir, shall I… – ‘No! Stay in the van.’

‘Vandal Deca to Caper One. What’s happened?’

‘We see bodies, lots of them.’

Are you certain, Caper One?

‘Dammit, Comroe, of course we’re certain.’

‘Your orders are…”Proceed to satellite and retrieve.”’

‘Roger, Vandal Deca.’

Stay at your stations! Hit that security button! Get me Major Manchek.

‘Somehow they don’t hardly look dead, Lieutenant. They’re all over the place. Must be dozens of them.’

‘Dammit, get this call through!’

‘Good chri…! – ‘Do you see that thing in white?’-Yeah, it’s coming toward us.’

Realising that something horribly strange had been going on with Caper One, Lt. Comroe contacted Major Mancheck of Scoop Mission Control A-12.

Major Mancheck requested a reconnaissance flyby over Piedmont, New Mexico with Gunnar Wilson assigned to conduct an Infrared F.L.I.R. scan using an F-4 Phantom jet crisscrossing the area and taking photographs.

After reviewing the film and the shocking sight of so many dead bodies over such a wide area, Mancheck declared a State of Emergency and restricted all personnel to base. Everything seen and heard in the room where the film was viewed was declared top secret.

As per procedure, Mancheck made use of a red telephone to call a special number on which left a message declaring a Wildfire Alert based on the filmed evidence of “unnatural death caused by Scoop 7 returning to earth.”

As part of the Wildfire protocol, a team of five scientists would be activated to investigate and deal with the situation: Dr Jeremy Stone, Dr Ruth Leavitt, Dr Charles Dutton, Professor Kirke and Dr Mark Hall.

Each scientist would have been made well aware of the protocol involved in the event of activation: Authorized personnel would have appeared in person to collect each scientist no matter what the circumstances might have been, whether they were hosting a party or even in the middle of performing surgery or a crucial experiment. This would not have been delivered in the form of a request. Instead, each scientist’s presence would have been ‘insisted’ upon. The scientist concerned would have been alerted to the nature of the official visit by the coded phrase: “There’s a fire, sir.”/ ma’am. Furthermore, all outside communications and requests for information from the scientists’ families were monitored and restricted “for reasons of national security.”

All the members of Dr. Stone’s team had been quickly cleared and called in, all except for Professor Kirke who was apparently in hospital undergoing an appendectomy.

SECOND DAY: (February 6, 1971)

The next day, Doctors Stone and Hall were flown by helicopter from Vandenberg AFB at 8:00 a.m. and conveyed to Piedmont, New Mexico. It was suspected that the satellite may have brought back a space germ. Dr Hall’s inclusion was based on his position as an MD and his knowledge of blood chemistry. Another factor in Hall’s selection which will be explained shortly, is that he was single.

At the earlier closed hearing of the Senate Committee on Space Sciences in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1971 testimony from General Sparks indicated that Dr. Stone was unaware of Project Scoop and that he and Dr Stone were consultants with NASA on the Lunar Receiving Lab. General Sparks testified that Stone believed that a more advanced lab was needed to isolate and study any extra-terrestrial germ that may be encountered in the future. Dr Stone wrote a letter urging that a facility be funded and built for such a purpose. A copy of that letter is included below:

“In a true biological crisis which our exploration of space could bring about, the present lunar receiving laboratory might prove inadequate. I therefore urge the establishment of a facility to deal specifically with an extraterrestrial form of life.

“The purpose of this facility would be to limit the dissemination of such an unknown organism from outer space, and to provide laboratories for its analysis.

“I recommend that this facility be located in an uninhabited region of the United States, that it utilize all known isolation techniques, and that it be equipped with
a nuclear device for self-destruction in the event of an emergency.

Yours very truly,
Jeremy Stone.”

When the helicopter carrying Doctors Stone and Hall arrived over Piedmont, gas canisters were dropped to kill the birds that were scavenging the dead bodies lest they spread any possible infection further afield.

Wearing bio-hazard protective suits, Stone and Hall were lowered to the ground to begin their investigate of the town, while the helicopter hovered a safe distance away. Amid an eerie silence, the two men discovered a number of the townsfolk appeared to have been cut down in mid-stride. Some of he dead appear to have committed suicide.

One of those who had taken their life left a note which read as follows:

“The day of judgement is at hand. Have mercy on my soul and to hell with all the others.


Such behaviour seemed to indicate that it took the victims time to do such things and that therefore there was a chance that someone was still alive.

Shortly after the grim discoveries, the two doctors managed to retrieve the satellite from the residence of Dr. Alan Benedict, the local town doctor. They discovered that the town’s doctor had opened the satellite in his office and that all of his blood had crystallized into a powder. It had become apparent that most of the town’s victims’ blood had also crystallized, causing rapid death. The potential danger posed to the world by the organism that brought such death to one small town had become all too real.

With minutes remaining before they had to leave, Stone and Hall discovered to their utter astonishment two survivors: a six-month old infant by the name of Manuel Rios and a 69 year old alcoholic named Peter Jackson. Before they left, Stone informed Mancheck by radio, that the town was finished having being contaminated beyond all salvation and that he should order up a “7-12.”

A “7-12″ involves a Presidential order to “cauterize” a certain area by means of thermonuclear weapons should said area become contaminated in a manner similar to that experienced by Piedmont and thereby potentially adversely affecting national security. Due to concerns that such a course of action could be viewed as being “against the Moscow Treaty of 1963 to fire thermonuclear weapons above ground,” it was decided that the National Guard would cordon off the area around Piedmont, and a decision to cauterize the area, via a “7-12,” would be delayed 24 to 48 hours.

The Wildfire facility in southern Nevada is disguised on the surface to look like an old building run by the Department of Agriculture. Entry to the building, is gained by providing the correct pass-phrase code before entering a storeroom, the floor of which descends some distance underground to the first level of Wildfire. Stone and Hall would have entered a decontamination chamber in their white suits where they’d been irradiated.

The final step before entry is a palm print analyzer, the purpose of which is to verify identification giving a “final clearance to enter Wildfire.”

Doctors Stone, Hall, Dutton and Leavitt would have undergone quite extensive decontamination procedures while descending through four disinfection levels to a fifth level where laboratories are located in a technologically sophisticated complex.

If there were a threat of the organism breaching the Wildfire facility, an automatic nuclear self-destruct mechanism (as already alluded to in the copy of Dr Stone’s letter above) would ensure the incineration of all infectious agents.

As part of the self-destruct protocol, there is a provision called the “Robertson odd man hypothesis” that states, “That an unmarried male should carry out command decisions involving thermonuclear destruct contexts.” Under this provision, Dr. Hall was entrusted with the only key that could deactivate the self-destruct device, based on the belief that an unmarried male “the key man” is the most suited person within a group to make such a critical decision in a crisis situation.

After giving Dr Hall a special red metal key on a chain, Dr Stone would have armed the nuclear device at the bottom of the complex by means of a silver key that could not be removed. Only Dr Hall could disarm the mechanism by inserting his red key in one of the substations located throughout the facility. In the event of this occurring, there would be a five-minute delay between the time detonation locks in and the bomb explodes thereby giving Dr Hall a chance to think and terminate self-destruct process.

The time taken to descend to Level 5 while undergoing the decontamination and immunization process would have required 16 hours. On Level 4, the team were required to rest rest for 6 hours after which they were to meet in the cafeteria.

At this point we will pause to consider some important questions that have been raised as to the nature of the organism:

• Had the capsule been deliberately brought back with the infection?

• Could it be “an organism from another planet released deliberately?”

• Is its intention “to wipe us out?…..(or) just the opposite; to make friendly contact?”

• Was it “a kind of messenger to show us life exists elsewhere in the universe?”

• While posing a danger to life on earth, was it perhaps “benign in its own environment?”

• Could the organism be “a new form of life” or representative of “intelligent life on a distant planet… no larger than a flea. Perhaps no larger than a bacterium?”

Despite how far-fetched the theories and hypotheses appeared to be regarding the nature of the organism, it was felt by many that one couldn’t ignore any possibility, no matter how terrifying the truth…..

THIRD DAY: (February 7, 1971)

The investigation of the organism, designated “Andromeda” was divided into three stages by Dr Stone:

1) detection, “that an organism is present.”

2) characterization, “how’s it structured, how does it work.”

3) control: containment and extermination.

The last point does raise the possibility that “without ever realizing it, we might destroy a highly intelligent form of life.”

At 4:33 a.m. the team proceeded to the final level, Level 5

The investigation began with Dr Stone using robotic “hands” to open the satellite. A lab rat was then used to determine if the open capsule had contaminated the air inside the sealed work chamber. This resulted in the rapid death of the rat.

Next, a rhesus monkey was exposed to the air, and it too expired in a few seconds. Doctors Stone and Leavitt then undertook to scan the capsule in the Main Control Room, while Dr Dutton performed the necropsies on the lab animals in the autopsy lab, and Dr Hall examined the two human survivors of Piedmont in the patient med-lab complex.

Dr Dutton and his assistant were able to verify that Andromeda was still present, active and lethal. They also confirmed that it is transmitted by the air, is definitely alive and being the size of 1-2 microns is as large as a bacterium or “big enough to be a complete cell.” There was also little doubt that Andromeda soon after it is inhaled, “the clotting begins in the lungs and spreads outward.”

During their scan on the inside of the satellite, Doctors Stone and Leavitt focused on a small pebble-sized bit of what appeared to be rock that contained a green substance that looked like paint. Under 440 magnification. the green substance was observed to spasm and grow in size. At 1,000 magnification the movement and growth of the substance was undeniable. Doctor Stone then removed the rock sample containing the organism and sent it off for microchemistry examination.

Meanwhile, Doctor Hall examined his patients, reviewed the blood results and questioned Mr Jackson but initially didn’t obtain any useful information. He was able to determine that Mr Jackson’s blood was too acidic, but was unable to arrive at a reason as to why. Stone learned that Jackson had an ulcer, but it still remained a mystery as to why the baby was still alive. It was yet to be determined what link there was between a 69 year old alcoholic with an ulcer and a six-month old infant.

At about the same time, a pilot flying an F-4 Phantom jet over the Piedmont area at 23,000 feet experienced trouble when his oxygen mask began to disintegrate. His jet then crashed in Utah near the Four-Corners area.

Soon after at the crash site in Utah, Major Mancheck learned from one of the investigators that the F-4 does not contain rubber, but instead employs a new synthetic called Polycron. It is similar in characteristics to human skin, which was quite evident from the human bones stripped of flesh found in the Jet. It was surmised that either a chemical reaction or a micro-organism had entered the cockpit and dissolved the pilot’s Polycron oxygen mask which caused the pilot to become disoriented from lack of oxygen resulting in the crashing of the jet.

At the Wildfire Micro-chemistry lab, analysis of the apparent rock sample indicated it was a type of plastic. The green substance was found to be composed of just four elements: Hydrogen, Carbon, Nitrogen, and Oxygen while there was a total absence of amino acids as well as “no proteins, no enzymes, no nucleic acid.” All thought to be impossible as it is believed that “no organism can maintain life without them!” At least “no Earth organism” suggesting that Andromeda “must have evolved in a totally different way” and that “it doesn’t come from here.” The scientific consensus has always been that “without chemical reactions there can’t be life” and yet it was evident that Andromeda could grow and reproduce.

At Wildfire, two crucial discoveries then needed to be made;

1. To find out what would keep the organism from growing.

2. What Doctor Hall’s two dissimilar patients had in common thereby allowing them to survive.

FOURTH DAY: (February 8, 1971)

After learning that the “7-12” was never initiated over Piedmont, Doctor Stone stressed that it was imperative that the “7-12” be carried out under the mistaken assumption that the pilot was infected by Andromeda instead of being incapacitated by the dissolving rubber/synthetic materials of his equipment.

The Wildfire team were soon able to isolate a cell of the green substance and discover that it was a crystal thus providing a reason as to why Andromeda could live without amino acids. The organism is able to convert energy into nourishment and can divide and multiply even “in a vacuum” and “bombarded by electrons” where “it shouldn’t even be alive.” In fact, Andromeda can live on anything, and it seems that “only gas and light affect it.”

The horrible and terrifying conclusion to be drawn from the scientists’ findings was that a thermonuclear detonation would have allowed Andromeda to mutate and grow into a super-colony in just a single day. 

Having “just found out Andromeda works like a little reactor” by converting “matter to energy, energy to matter directly, …..the bomb would only provide a fantastically rich growth medium.” Andromeda would have been able to divide and mutate with literally no Earth-bound checks and balances to prevent it.

A short time later, an alarm sounded  signaling contamination due to a broken seal in the autopsy lab. Emergency procedures were immediately put into effect. The sense of fear and horror was conveyed to this committee first by the description of the reactions those who witnessed Doctor Leavitt’s epileptic seizure on the way to the autopsy lab, and then by the team members who witnessed Doctor Dutton’s terror at finding himself locked in the lab.

While Doctor Dutton was being fed pure oxygen in the lab, it was soon surmised that the common factor that ensured the survival of Mr Jackson’s and the infant lay in “acidosis, rapid breathing.” The pure oxygen was then turned off in the lab and Dutton was instructed to breathe rapidly. Doctor Hall had then come to the conclusion that the answer lay not in the air but in the blood pH and it was determined that Andromeda could only survive in a narrow band of pH. If the blood is “too acid or alkaline, Andromeda can’t survive in the body.” By breathing rapidly, doctor Dutton would have gone into “respiratory alkalosis.” He could not keep this up forever.

It was noticed that the lab rat in the room with doctor Dutton was still alive and that therefore having been exposed as long as he was, it was apparent that “Andromeda mutated to a noninfectious form.”

Suddenly a message warning of an “early degenerative change in gasket” indicated that the Andromeda virus had begun consuming the Polycron gaskets throughout the Wildfire facility, facilitating the spread of contamination. If Andromeda were to have breached the Wildfire facility and if the nuclear detonation had occurred, there may very well have been “a thousand mutations” and Andromeda would have “spread everywhere” without any means of being rid of it.

With Level 5 becoming sealed off, Doctor Hall was unable to access a substation to deactivate the 5-minute countdown to self-destruct detonation. Doctor Hall then heroically made his way to the central core where he ran the gauntlet of automated gas and laser defenses. After being struck by laser beams on a couple of occasions and suffering as a result from shock, Doctor Hall successfully made his way to Level 3 where he was able to reach a station and disable the nuclear self-destruct with his key with mere seconds to spare.

Cloud-seeding with silver iodide was later initiated over the Pacific Ocean causing the Andromeda colony to be swept from the atmosphere into alkaline seawater thereby rendering it harmless.

Implications & Recommendations

In relation to the cloud-seeding operation, while it appears “all reports indicate the experiment was successful” and that the alien pathogen has been contained, it remains unclear whether this will be the case in the future should a similar situation arise. Could the human race be faced with an equally unpredictable dangerous organism that may cause a catastrophic global pandemic in say 5, 10, 20 or even let us say…50 years time?

The factor of human error and unforeseen problems must be the subject of any investigation. An example of this is the recently disclosed fact that messages for the Wildfire team had been routed but the alarm, “was knocked out by a sliver of paper…the sliver had peeled from the roll and wedged between the bell and striker, preventing the bell from ringing.” This simple failure was allowed to happen in a multi-million dollar supposedly technologically secure facility. The consequences of the communications foul-up became evident when Doctor Hall noticed that messages for the team were never relayed to them. The “7-12” was never carried out over Piedmont and the Wildfire team had not been informed of the Phantom Jet that crashed and the dissolving rubber / synthetic materials. With a 24-48 hour delay imposed for the bombing mission it was feared that by “then the disease could spread into a worldwide epidemic.”

There is also the matter of the condition of one of the team members, Doctor Ruth Leavitt – a medical condition which she had kept to herself and had not been picked up by anyone. As Doctor Leavitt reviewed the growth results, she missed a red flashing message, warning of “No Growth.” This flashing light caused Doctor Leavitt to suffer an epileptic seizure resulting in her failing to hear the alarm for a midnight conference.

Up until the Andromeda incident, Wildfire had been like a game. Apparently simulation bio-war games had been conducted using volunteer live subjects. It seemed that no-one believed that such a crisis as that posed by Andromeda could ever really happen. Human complacency and the playing down of the seriousness of a situation may prove to be a bigger killer than any crisis we may be faced with now and in the future.

Hubris and overconfidence in the infallibility of our technology can cause us to overlook basic human negligence. For instance, in the case of the Wildfire facility, what if a scalpel had cut into a suit or if human hands were used instead of robotic hands in the handling of dangerous materials and test subjects? If such possibilities exists and can be considered then they are more than likely to eventually occur. Have we also become so dependent on our technology that we are unable to decide what to do when it fails us?

Other possible scenarios that need to be considered and by implication will probably occur (have already occurred and will occur again) are;

• Extra-terrestrial organisms and life-forms coming into contact with our planet with consequences as potentially severe as Andromeda.

• Extra-terrestrial life-forms that are unlike our preconceptions of what constitutes life and might even “be based on crystals of some kind” and like Andromeda “grows best in carbon dioxide and hydrogen, incubated under X-rays” and producing “no excretions, no waste of any kind.” A life-form “perfect for existence in outer space.”

• National and international clandestine and ‘black projects’ being developed with bio-warfare experimentation and weapon development as their focus.

• Virulent viruses and bacteria escaping from supposedly secure facilities.

• Increasing instances of animal-to-human transmission of viruses.

• Increasing reliance on biological warfare and bio-terrorism.

• Political and economic imperatives taking precedence over scientific research and advice.

• Global catastrophes and severe climactic changes resulting in the release and activation of once considered extinct and dormant viruses and pathogens for which we have no defense.

• The evolving capacity for organisms and viruses to mutate and defeat our ability to contain and eradicate them.

Due to the revelation that “the purpose of Scoop was to find new biological weapons in outer space, and then use Wildfire to develop them,” this current Senate Committee on Space Sciences strongly recommends a bi-partisan investigation into the development and activities of Project Scoop and the Wildfire facility, as well as the roles played by the relevant political, military and scientific personnel and authorities involved, up to and including the office of the President of the United States of America.

A crucial question this committee would like to put forward is: Will we one day be faced with another code “601” type of scenario with implications and consequences for our very survival coming at us too thick and too fast for us to analyze and contend with?

“There’s no guarantee that another so-called biological crisis won’t occur again” and that therefore it is incumbent upon all of us to find an answer to the question,

“What do we do about that?”

The Honourable Holden Wendell (Kentucky) (Chair)
The Honorable Senator Eric Phillips (Vermont)
The Honorable Senator David McKenzie (New Mexico)
The Honourable Clifford Moss (New Jersey)

Points of Interest

The Andromeda Strain was produced on a budget of $6.5 million and managed to gross $12,376,563 in North America, earning $8.2 million in US theatrical rentals. It was the 16th highest-grossing film of 1971.

The film was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Art Direction and Best Film Editing. It was also nominated for science fiction’s 1972 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

Director Robert Wise’s body of work includes ‘The Body Snatcher’, ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’, ‘The Haunting’, ‘West Side Story’, ‘I Want to Live!’ and ‘Star Trek-The Motion Picture’ (the last which I enjoyed by the way, despite some negative views from some quarters!)

The male scientist, Dr. Peter Leavitt in the Michael Crichton novel was replaced by the female Dr. Ruth Leavitt in the film version. Far from being eye-candy or love-interest material, Leavitt is portrayed as being a more interesting and down-to earth character in the film with her cynicism, sarcasm and wit. Actors Arthur Hill, James Olson, David Wayne, and Kate Reid who play the scientists may be familiar faces as supporting character actors, but they give top-notch convincing and believable performances in this film.

David Wayne, who plays Dr. Charles Dutton, also had a rare leading role as a villain portraying the child killer (originally played by Peter Lorre) in the remake of ‘M’ (1951), which I watched just the other day. I highly recommend it.

Filming took place in Shafter, Texas, used to depict the fictional town of Piedmont.

I liked the use of the multiple or split screen technique whereby different scenes and points of view can be shown at the same time. I’d like to see more of that used in films these days instead of the nausea-inducing shaky ‘found-footage’ camera-style garbage employed in many modern films. In The Andromeda Strain one also has time to take in and digest details of a scene rather than endure Attention Deficit Disorder-causing rapid-fire cutting from one scene to the next. Those who have been fed on that kind of music video style of film making will consider much of The Andromeda Strain as being rather slow-paced. You poor misguided slobs!

In the film, the computer error “601” is received due to a ‘crash’ or system overload during an attempt to simulate Andromeda’s growth and mutation. The error number is exactly half of the number of the computer overload error “1202” which occurred on the LEM during the first manned lunar descent in 1969.

$250,000 of the film’s budget of $6.5 million was used to create the special effects and The Andromeda Strain was one of the first films to use advanced computerized photographic visual effects. Simulated computer rendering was used employing conventional film-making processes of a mapped 3-D view of the rotating structure of the five-story cylindrical underground Wildfire laboratory. The rotating holographic display of the facility was created using a projector and a piece of cardboard that was raised as each level was added.

The depiction of five circular levels of the Wildfire lab, each supposedly with a different colour was achieved simply by having only one small section of circular hallway created. As scenes in each colour-coded level were completed, shooting for scenes in other settings would occur while the hallway set was repainted for the next colour-coded level.

The monkey was depicted as being killed by the virus by being placed in a large set filled with carbon dioxide. The monkey’s cage, which contained oxygen was then opened causing the animal to fall unconscious due to the CO2. A breathing apparatus was then quickly rushed in and used on the monkey to help it regain consciousness. Can you imagine the heads of PETA and animal rights activists exploding if that was done these days – despite being approved by the ASPCA who was present during the filming of the scene!

I remember reading Michael Crichton’s 1960s novel and although I was largely impressed by it, I do recall being somewhat bored at various stages by some endless technical descriptions and wishing the story would get a move on. Strangely enough other readers seem to have had a different experience. I certainly did not have any feeling of boredom or distraction with the film adaptation despite it being over 2 hours long which says a lot about the film itself, I suppose.

The Andromeda Strain presents a very plausible depiction of the appearance and outbreak of a deadly new and unknown micro-organism, the kind of impact it can have, its identification and the efforts at combating and containing it. I know that in these jaded Covid times, there’s a plethora of arm-chair immunology and virology experts (and didn’t we hear from enough of them!) who might pooh-pooh aspects of the film. But, hey it was among the first of its kind in this particular genre. Even in the light of today’s Covid pandemic, The Andromeda Strain does have relevance and resonance for modern audiences.

The Andromeda Strain stands out from many other sci-fi films in that it is solidly based on and informed by science, all without straining our credulity. Refreshingly absent too is the finger-wagging moralizing and PC and wokish-wankerism we have become accustomed to of late in films. Yes, the message is received loud and clear: that technology can create many problems for us. But it is an undeniable fact and part of our way of life and it can also serve to help us solve many of the problems we face.

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