The One Place on Earth Not Destroyed in ‘2012’

When I interviewed director Roland Emmerich a few months ago about his upcoming disaster flick “2012,” the first question I asked was, “Why do you like killing the world?” His response: “It makes for a good story.”

Over the past fifteen years, Emmerich has crafted some great tales about global doom, featuring some spectacular scenes of destruction. He had aliens zap the White House in “Independence Day,” he let a massive lizard flatten New York City in “Godzilla,” and he sent killer tornadoes through downtown Los Angeles in “The Day After Tomorrow.”

For “2012,” Emmerich set his sites on destroying the some biggest landmarks around the world, from Rome to Rio. But there’s one place that Emmerich wanted to demolish but didn’t: the Kaaba, the cube-shaped structure located in the center of Mecca. It’s the focus of prayers and the site of the Hajj, the biggest, most important pilgrimage in Islam.

“Well, I wanted to do that, I have to admit,” the filmmaker told scifiwire.com. “But my co-writer Harald [Kloser] said, ‘I will not have a fatwa on my head because of a movie.’ And he was right.”

Emmerich went on: “We have to all, in the western world, think about this. You can actually let Christian symbols fall apart, but if you would do this with [an] Arab symbol, you would have … a fatwa, and that sounds a little bit like what the state of this world is. So it’s just something which I kind of didn’t [think] was [an] important element, anyway, in the film, so I kind of left it out.” Read the full article >>

Photo by Muhannad Fala'ah/Getty Images

Traditionally, a fatwa has meant religious opinion by an Islamic scholar or imam. The term has gained currency in the West after Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini issued a death sentence in the form of a fatwa against British author Salman Rushdie for alleged blasphemies in his book “The Satanic Verses” in 1989. As a result, the Indian-born writer was forced into hiding for most of the ’90s.

Emmerich has no qualms about wrecking other major landmarks, however. The massive dome of St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican rolls on top of a crowd of churchgoers. The huge Christ the Redeemer statue that looms over Rio de Janeiro disintegrates. And, of course, the White House gets crushed when a wave drops the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy on top of it.

The director was also reportedly approached by people hoping to get their famous landmarks trashed, like Taiwan’s Taipei 101, which is the tallest completed building in the world. There’s no word yet if that structure will meet the same on-screen fate as the Vatican and the White House. “2012” opens nationwide on November 13.

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