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OU on the BBC: Hollywood Science - Escapes

Updated Monday 22nd August 2005

In this last episode, Jonathan and Robert turn their exacting attention to some of the most dramatic escapes in Hollywood history.

Robert and Jonathan Copyrighted image Icon Copyright: The Open University

First up, it’s Chain Reaction, with Keanu Reeves and Rachel Weisz trapped inside an underground lab. On top of that, a huge lump of concrete is covering their only escape route - a hole in the floor. Fortunately clever Keanu knows his stuff, and aims a cylinder of hydrogen against the block. Wrapping an axe in a cloth, he knocks the end of the cylinder off, resulting in it shooting across the floor with such force that it shifts the concrete! So could a cylinder of hydrogen move a block weighing over a ton, and would the two escapees have blown themselves up in the process?

In the next scene, Clint Eastwood is hardened con Frank Morris in the movie classic Escape from Alcatraz. Digging his way out of his cell, Clint is finding that he’s making slow progress. So he hits upon the idea of making his own customised pick axe. His method? To braze together a spoon and some nail clippers using nothing more than a US dime and a bunch of matches. Would Clint’s clever clogs approach have worked, or is this just Hollywood Science?

Taken from the movie Hollow Man, our final escape finds sexy scientist Elizabeth Shue locked inside a giant metal freezer by the incensed and invisible Kevin Bacon. As the temperature gets so low that even her tears are starting to freeze, Liz figures that the only way she will ever get out is by building an electromagnet. Made from a drawer handle, some insulated wire and a defibrillator, our heroine succeeds in making a magnet so powerful that it shifts the bolt, positioned several centimetres away on the other side of the door. But can it really be that simple?

First broadcast: Wednesday 2 Apr 2003 on BBC TWO


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