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Carmageddon or Carmaheaven? Traffic jams on the big screen

September 28, 2012|By Noelene Clark
  • Jack Gyllenhaal faces a flood of New York traffic in the disaster movie "The Day After Tomorrow." Click here for more big-screen traffic jams.
Jack Gyllenhaal faces a flood of New York traffic in the disaster movie "The… (20th Century Fox )

Carmageddon II is fast approaching, with transportation officials shutting down a 10-mile stretch of the 405 Freeway this weekend for the second time in 14 months. Construction crews will use the closure between the 10 and 101 freeways to demolish the rest of the Mulholland Drive bridge as part of a freeway improvement process.

Though Southern Californians survived Carmageddon's first iteration relatively unscathed (some called it "Carmaheaven"), we shouldn't get too cocky when it comes to traffic -- that is, if the movies have anything to teach us.

It seems nearly every doomsday flick released over the last few decades features a traffic jam of epic proportions, from the mass exodus stuck on the highway, helplessly watching a horrific disaster in "Deep Impact" to the yellow cabs stuck in the quickly flooding streets of Manhattan in "The Day After Tomorrow."

PHOTOS: Carmageddon II: Traffic jams on film

Time and again, filmmakers have used traffic jams as tropes to create tension and trap characters in stress-inducing situations, like the drudgery of Ron Livingston's morning commute in the cult comedy "Office Space." The constant gridlock in "One Fine Day" brought out the best and worst in two single parents. And the famous eight-minute tracking shot of a traffic jam in Jean-Luc Godard's 1967 film, "Week End," serves as a commentary on the human condition.

Though Los Angeles officials are hopeful that this year's Carmageddon II -- which begins Saturday at 12:01 a.m. and ends early Monday before rush hour -- will be a repeat of last year's "Carmaheaven," they're still urging motorists to take the weekend off from the roads.

So click on the photos above for a gallery of some famous traffic jams on film, and let the movie stars deal with rage-inducing traffic while you sit back and relax.

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