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"Tornadoes are a singular phenomenon, at once breathtaking in their beauty and unspeakable in their ruin. Their capricious nature -- laying waste to acres or carrying a baby unharmed for miles, flattening a house while leaving its next-door neighbor untouched -- has given them a fearsome and mighty place in American mythology."

So begins a production company introduction to the 1996 film "Twister." Myths are stories that tell us about the deepest things we believe to be true, as a culture and as a people -- often without conscious intent on the part of the storyteller who is simply a member of the same culture and so assumes the same things to be true. They express our culture's paradigms, which are its assumptions about the nature of reality. Because mythic stories and art exist within a set of cultural assumptions about the nature of reality, they reinforce the truth of those assumptions in our minds. They also instruct new generations about the things our culture holds to be True, and so enculturate youth within a specific people, time, and place. In that context, what do tornadoes' "fearsome and mighty place in American mythology" tell us about the things Americans believe to be True?

Twister. Click on the picture to learn more about the mythic nature of this film.

The National Severe Storms Lab FAQ site says "The movie TWISTER was based upon work NSSL did in the mid-1980's using a 55-gallon drum filled with various meteorological sensors. It was called TOTO (TOtable Tornado Observatory). NSSL tried for several years to put it in the path of an oncoming tornado, but had minimal success. It did not have the sensors that fly up into the tornado, like in the movie. However, that is not a bad idea and with the advances being made in computer technology, we might be able to do that someday."

So is the film "Twister" merely a depiction of reality instead of mythic story? Click here to find out.