Escape from New York  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Escape from New York is a 1981 American dystopian action film co-written, co-scored, and directed by John Carpenter. The film is set in a then near-future 1997 in a crime-ridden United States that has converted Manhattan Island in New York City into a maximum security prison. Ex-soldier Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) is given 22 hours to find the President of the United States (Donald Pleasence), who has been captured by prisoners after the crash of Air Force One.

Carpenter wrote the film in the mid-1970s as a reaction to the Watergate scandal. After the success of Halloween, he had enough influence to begin production and filmed it mainly in St. Louis, Missouri on an estimated budget of $6 million. Debra Hill and Larry J. Franco served as the producers. The film was co-written by Nick Castle, who already collaborated with Carpenter previously by portraying Michael Myers in Halloween.

Escape from New York was released in the United States on July 10, 1981. The film received positive reviews from critics and was a commercial success, grossing $25,244,700 at the box office. It was nominated for four Saturn Awards, including Best Science Fiction Film and Best Direction. The film gained a cult following and was followed by a sequel, Escape from L.A.


In 1988, following a 400% increase in crime, the United States Government has evacuated Manhattan and turned the island into a giant maximum-security prison in which all inmates serve a life sentence. A Template:Convert containment wall surrounds the island and routes out of Manhattan have been dismantled or mined. Armed helicopters patrol the rivers and harbor.

In 1997, while traveling to a peace summit between the United States, the Soviet Union and People's Republic of China, Air Force One is hijacked by a terrorist group. The President is given a security bracelet, and has a briefcase (containing an audiotape describing a powerful new bomb) handcuffed to his wrist. He makes it to an escape pod, and lands in Manhattan just before Air Force One crashes, killing everyone else aboard.

A detachment of U.S. Police Force officers is dispatched to rescue the President. However, Romero, the right-hand man of the Duke of New York, the top crime boss in the prison, presents them with the President's cut-off finger (still bearing a signet ring) and warns them that the Duke has taken the President hostage and that they have 24 hours to meet their sole demand: to allow all the Manhattan inmates access to the mainland.Template:Citation needed

New York Police Commissioner Bob Hauk offers a deal to "Snake" Plissken, a former U.S Special Forces soldier convicted of attempting to rob the Federal Reserve in Denver, Colorado. He will be sent to Manhattan on a glider, and if Snake rescues the President and retrieves the cassette tape within 24 hours, Hauk will arrange a presidential pardon. To ensure he does not fly away from Manhattan, Hauk has him injected with microscopic explosives that will rupture Snake's carotid arteries within 22 hours; if Snake returns with the President and the tape in time for the summit, Hauk will neutralize the explosives.

Snake is sent into Manhattan in a stealth glider, landing atop the World Trade Center. He locates the wreckage of Air Force One and escape pod and tracks the President's life-monitor bracelet signal to a vaudeville theatre, only to find it on the wrist of an old man sleeping there. He meets "Cabbie," who takes Snake in his armored taxi cab to Harold "Brain" Hellman, an advisor to the Duke who has made the New York Public Library his personal fortress.

Brain tells Snake that the Duke plans to unify the gangs in a mass exodus across the heavily guarded 59th Street/Queensboro Bridge, using the President as a human shield and a map Brain has created to avoid the mines. Snake forces Brain and his girlfriend Maggie (Adrienne Barbeau) to lead him to the Duke's compound at Grand Central Station. He finds the President in a railroad car and tries to free him, but is himself captured by the Duke's men.

While Snake is forced to fight to the death with a very large prisoner named Slag (Ox Baker), Brain and Maggie trick Romero into letting them see the President. They kill Romero and three other guards and flee with the President. As Snake wins the fight, the Duke learns of Brain's treachery and rallies his gang to chase them down. Snake catches up with Brain, Maggie, and the President on the roof of the World Trade Center, intending to use Snake's glider to escape New York. After a group of crazies destroys Snake's glider, the group heads back down to the street and encounters Cabbie, who offers to take them across the bridge in his cab. When Cabbie reveals that he has the secret tape (having traded it to Romero earlier for his cabbie's hat), the President demands it, but Snake keeps it.

With the Duke chasing in another car, the cab is blown in half by a mine and Cabbie is killed. As they flee on foot, Brain is killed when he steps on another mine. Maggie refuses to leave him, and shoots repeatedly at the Duke; he runs her over. Snake and the President reach the wall and the guards raise the President on a rope. The Duke kills the guards and attacks Snake, but the President, now armed atop the wall, gleefully shoots the Duke dead, mocking him in the process. Snake is lifted to safety and the implanted explosives are deactivated with seconds to spare.

As the President prepares for a televised speech to the leaders at the summit meeting, he thanks Snake for saving him. Snake asks how he feels about the people who died saving his life, but the President only offers halfhearted regret. Hauk offers Snake a job, but Snake walks away. The President's speech commences, and he offers the content of the cassette to the summit; to the President's embarrassment, the tape has been switched for Cabbie's cassette of the swing song "Bandstand Boogie". As Snake walks away, he removes the real cassette from his pocket and tears out the magnetic tape.


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