“Twister” – More Disaster Movie than a Story with Twists?

The next of my posts about movies which I studied for my article “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?” is about Twister (Jan de Bont, 1996), which came out in the year before Dante’s Peak, Titanic and Volcano as Hollywood seemingly went disaster movie crazy (with Armageddon and Deep Impact in the next year).

A summary of Twister on IMDb is as follows:

TV weatherman Bill Harding is trying to get his tornado-hunter wife, Jo, to sign divorce papers so he can marry his girlfriend Melissa. But Mother Nature, in the form of a series of intense storms sweeping across Oklahoma, has other plans. Soon the three have joined the team of stormchasers as they attempt to insert a revolutionary measuring device into the very heart of several extremely violent tornados.


While it doesn’t have the greatest average score on IMDb (6.4 at the time of writing), I find it an entertaining watch and have seen it a few times in addition to the times needed to watch it (or parts of it) for my research.

In terms of the revised list of conventions that I developed as part of my article “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?“, the movie scored a 13 out of the 17. Unsurprisingly for an English-language disaster narrative – particularly one that also be aimed at a younger market (it has a PG rating), there are no visible dead bodies in the movie, despite all of the destruction and there being no doubt about the outcome for some people in it. There is also no ‘isolation’ as the storm chasers rush across Oklahoma. None of the key characters are killed (although a rival team is). The other missing convention is that there is no cross section of society being shown – an issue that I will return to discuss further in another post.

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