A movie by Wolfgang Petersen, based on the based-on-a-true-story book of the same name by Sebastian Junger.

The Perfect Storm

The perfect storm was a confluence of three weather systems in October 1991 that resulted in superstorm conditions never seen in recorded history.


The movie begins with some of the hokiest dialogue heard since Celine Dion finished her gig for Titanic. About of a third of the way in to the movie, the boat Andrea Gail goes out again for a late October (1991) swordfish run. When the weather starts up, Industrial Light and Magic goes to work. Wow. The boat is battered by rogue waves (of between 75 and 100 feet) which is pretty awe inspiring to watch even if it is only CGI. The storm scenes are really quite amazing and totally make up for the cheesy dialogue. The real star of this movie is the storm, not the salty dog actors, e.g. George Clooney.

Differences from the book

The book did not have the cheesy dialogue, for one. Also, it is clearer in the book what events are conjecture, since no-one knows what happened to the AG in the end. However, the book is extremely graphic, and this movie does justice to the unimaginably bad conditions at sea. Overall, the movie is quite faithful to the book.
The iPhone will be the Perfect Storm of the mobile industry
-Said by someone in all likelihood.

The Perfect Storm has become a cliché, a buzz phrase used by businessmen and politicians to describe some big event. I have not seen the film, but from the reviews above and general feelings I heard when it came out it was a middling performance film with incredible effects. Now, a little more than seven years after its release, the title of the movie is a metaphor for anything which might sweep some industry up and carry it quickly from default to profit or vice versa. These days you might hear on the news about the “perfect storm of diet pills” or the “perfect storm of campaign reform.” The metaphor is not unreasonable in most cases; it refers to something sweeping in and changing things, being large and in charge. But what is unreasonable is how it is used and how it is currently over-used.


Calling something the perfect storm refers usually to how uncontrollable that thing is with respect to whatever company or politician is sponsoring it. The iPhone was a "Perfect Storm" according to some hype-spinners, the housing market is experiencing its own "Perfect Storm," especially the sub-prime lending market. The phrase simply describes something that seems to possess all the raw power of gale-force winds, 30 meter waves and pounding downpour. Generally the phrase is used neutrally with respect to the benefit or detriment it has to the person using the phrase. Tiger Woods, during this year’s British Open, needed a perfect storm, and didn't get it. Beekeepers are under the weather of their own perfect storm. A startup R&D company can brew a "perfect storm" in their industry.

The problem is that "The Perfect Storm" happens once, maybe twice, in a lifetime. This overuse has lead to the diminishing of the phrase's impact. This coupled with the neutrality of the phrase's use makes it equally confusing. If you hear that Wall Street had a "Perfect Storm" there is roughly a 50/50 chance that the market tanked or the Dow-Jones Industrial went up 200 points in the afternoon. One might expect forecasters to begin terming every other balmy day with sunshine and a breeze as "The Perfect Storm of Pleasant Days."

It says something about the widespread usage of the phrase that Merriam-Webster is adding it to the dictionary. The definition they use is one that points to the “disastrous confluence of forces” definition that the movie and Junger promote. As this is fairly recent it may yet have a stabilizing influence on the meaning of the phrase, but it will probably not stop the overuse that had made it the perfect storm of calling this, that or the other thing "the Perfect Storm."

Bawb, look, the sky looks like it needs a skywash.”

Those were the words spoken to me by the kid next door
age three and a half
in that little girl voice
as she pointed her water pistol up in the air
took aim
and tried to wash away the clouds

It usually arrives somewhere
between six and seven.
When the air during the day feels so thick
and chewy
you swear that you can taste it
or choke on it

When in a matter of moments the temperature
drops ten or fifteen degrees
and wipes away the thin film of sweat
that’s covered you throughout the day

When the lighting sizzles and cracks
and you don’t have time to count the seconds
until you feel the rumble of the thunder
and it sounds so loud
it might as well be coming from inside
your own head

When raindrops the size of small stones
smack against the street and make the steam rise
and they fall in a torrent so quickly and with such force
that the rooftop gutters overflow
and the excess pours down on your old Weber grill
and the sound they make reminds you of a
steel drum in a calypso band

When the lights inside your home flicker
and wink at you
as if they held a secret that they were unwilling to tell
and the spray you get from the safety of your porch
makes you feel clean
and new

And in a matter of moments
it’s over
and the sun peeks out a bit from the west
before calling it a night
and a little girl
age three and a half
peeks her head out of her door
to make sure the storm has passed

And you say to her
“Look Ella, you did it, you washed the sky!”
and she smiles at you and runs back inside
to tell her mom that it’s safe
to go outside again
and in her bare feet
she dances in the puddles
and giggles
the way only a child can

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