Backdraft (movie)

Backdraft or firefighters on alert in Quebec is anAmerican filmofActiondirected byRon Howardand released in1991, withKurt Russell,William Baldwin,Robert De Niro,Scott GlennandDonald Sutherlandin the lead roles.

The film presents a police investigation into deliberate and criminal fires, which may have been caused by a member of a fire department starting from the fact that the fire always dies out by itself.


Stephen and Brian McCaffrey is the son of Captain Dennis McCaffrey, the firefighters of Chicago , died a hero in a fire under the eyes of the youngest (Brian) who, for once, accompanied him on an intervention. The photograph of the boy holding his father’s helmet gets the Pulitzer Prize. While Stephen brilliantly followed in his father’s footsteps, Brian, for his part, dropped out of the firefighters’ academy for the first time and then went into other areas. He eventually returned to the father’s profession, as well as his old neighborhood, which he left six years ago. He is assigned to the 115 th company, but Stephen, dubious about the motives of his brother, will put him hard on the test by automatically reassigning him to the 17 th company, in which he is lieutenant and chief, is the barracks.

Brian is also renewing his old love affair with his friend Jennifer, who works at Mayor’s office with Councilor Marty Swayzak. It has reduced the budget for the fire department of the city, including removing some companies. Stephen’s life, on the other hand, is entirely devoted to his work, his own marriage to Helen having ended less than a year before, and the repair of their father’s boat, in which he now lives. The professional cohabitation of the two brothers, who have a lot of trouble communicating, proves difficult.

At the same time, Lieutenant Donald “Shadow” Rimgale, also from the fire department, is called upon to investigate criminal fires triggered with a substance called trychtichlorate 1 . The very peculiar nature of these fires, resulting from the explosion of smoke (or backdrafts ) that the victims accidentally light up, and which extinguish themselves, makes Rimgale tip for the work of a killer who does not like not fire, unlike a pyromaniac . Pushed by Jennifer, Swayzak offers Brian to second Rimgale, to monitor the investigator more closely.

After refusing the offer, Brian agrees after noting that he could not overtake his brother in the role of the heroic firefighter. After spending the night with Jennifer on a fire truck, he attends the emergency evacuation of a th intern friend. company, which was caught in a criminal fire. Swayzak, more and more anxious, ends up revealing to Rimgale that there is a link between the victims. Brian asks Jennifer for help to define this link; she ends up accepting. Brian and Rimgale eventually discovered that the counselor and the other three victims were associated in a company that was recovering the contracts of development barracks closed by the town hall. For his part, Steven was very touched by the injury of his subordinate, which he feels responsible; he temporarily reconnects with his wife – but she still refuses to take him back as long as he is a fireman.

Going to Swayzak’s house to interrogate him, Brian and Rimgale arrive just in time to save his life: the killer was setting up his trap. Brian burns him, but in the explosion that follows, Rimgale is badly hit and the killer manages to escape. With the help of Ronald Bartel, an arsonist whom Rimgale once incarcerated, Brian understands that the killer is necessarily a firefighter. He comes to suspect his brother, who uses trychtichlorate for his father’s boat. But they come to understand that this is Steven’s second, Adcox, who supplied the products to Steven. Adcox surprises their conversation, and Brian notices it. The company is called on a gigantic fire, they all leave the barracks, but Brian’s truck has an accident,

On the roof of the building, an intense discussion takes place between the three protagonists, but the building collapses and only Brian manages to escape by the ladder. Prisoner of the elevator hoist, he is rescued by Stephen. Looking for Adcox, they are assaulted by the latter who hurts Brian. Stephen manages to reason with Adcox but the bridge where they are is broken; Stephen, seriously injured, is recovered by his team with the help of Brian, but he dies in the ambulance that brings him to the hospital. The film ends with the burial of firefighter John Adcox and Lieutenant Stephen McCaffrey – and the intervention, in the middle of a press conference by Councilor Swayzak, Brian and Inspector Rimgale to publicize his malfeasance.

Technical sheet

  • Title: Backdraft
  • Quebec title: Firefighters on alert
  • Original title: Backdraft
  • Director: Ron Howard
  • Scenario: Gregory Widen
  • Technical advisers:
    • Stanley Span
    • William Cosgrove
    • Mattie Hunter
  • Music: Hans Zimmer
  • Artistic direction: Carol Winstead Wood under Albert Brenner
  • Sets: Harold Fuhrman , William B. Fosser , Gary Baugh and Garrett Lewis
  • Construction: Steve Hagberg
  • Costumes: Jodie Tillen and John Casey
  • Makeup: Robert N. Norin , Lance Anderson & Kathe Swanson and Dennis Liddiard for Kurt Russell , Ilona Herman for Robert De Niro & Peggy Pliscott for Jennifer Jason Leigh
  • Hairstyles: Linda R. Rizzuto , Jerome H. Turnage & Kathe Swanson and Ilona Herman for Robert De Niro & Peggy Pliscott for Jennifer Jason Leigh
  • Photography: Mikael Solomon
  • Sound engineer: Gary Rydstrom
  • Special effects: Allen Hall
  • Visual effects: Scott Farrar
  • Visual Effects Company: Industrial Light & Magic
  • Cascades: Walter Scott
  • Editing: Daniel Hanley and Michael Hill
  • Sound editing: Laura Perlman for music and Richard Hymns
  • Production Companies: Imagine Film Entertainment , Trilogy Entertainment Group and Universal City Studios
  • Producers: Brian Grazer , Todd Hallowell , Larry DeWaay , Raffaella De Laurentiis , Richard B Lewis , Pen Densham , John Watson and Louisa Velis
  • Distribution Company: Universal Pictures
  • Budget: $ 75,000,000
  • Country of origin: United States
  • Original languages: English and Lithuanian
  • Filming dates: July 23 to
  • Filming locations :
    •  Illinois :
      • Chicago
      • Hinsdale
      • Oak Park
  • Format: Colors ( Kodak and DeLuxe ) – 2.35: 1 – Stereo ( Dolby ) – 35 mm – Material ARRI
  • Genre: action
  • Duration: 132 minutes
  • Release dates:
    •  United States :
    •  France :
  • Box Office United States : $ 77,870,000 


  • Kurt Russell (VF: Philippe Vincent ) : Lieutenant Stephen “Bull” McCaffrey / Captain Dennis McCaffrey (at the beginning of the film)
  • William Baldwin (VF: Serge Faliu ) : Brian McCaffrey
  • Robert De Niro (VF: Jacques Frantz ) : Inspector Donald Rimgale, Criminal Fire Investigator
  • Scott Glenn (VF: Mario Santini ) : John “Ax” Adcox
  • Donald Sutherland (VF: Jean-Pierre Moulin ) : Ronald Bartel
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh (VF: Stéphanie Murat ) : Jennifer Vaitkus
  • Rebecca De Mornay (VF: Françoise Cadol ) : Helen McCaffrey
  • JT Walsh (VF: Michel Derain ) : Councilor Marty Swayzak
  • Mark Wheeler : Lieutenant Pengelly, Head of the Barracks 46
  • Jason Gedrick ( VG Damien Boisseau ) : Tim Krizminski
  • Jack McGee : Otis Schmidt, Fire Truck Driver 17
  • Anthony Mockus Sr. (VF: Max Andrew ) : Chief John Fitzgerald
  • Cedric Young : Grindle
  • Juan Ramirez : Ray Stantos
  • Kevin Casey : Nightingale



Backdraft needed a budget of more than $ 100 million, the biggest budget ever spent on a firefighter film [ref. necessary] .

Distribution of roles

Kurt Russell plays two roles in the film: Lieutenant Steven McCaffrey, the main character, and his father, Captain Dennis McCaffrey dying at the beginning of the film.

Around the film

Derivative product

The film resulted in the creation of one of the attractions of Universal Studios Park located in Hollywood . This attraction closed in 2010.

Notes and references

  1. ↑ Fictitious substance created for the needs of the film

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