The Impossible -movie review

Ten years ago today, one of the most devastating natural disasters in human history took place.  A 9.0 magnitude earthquake on the ocean floor caused a Tsunami which hit Indonesia, Thailand, Sri, Lanka, India and other countries with devastating force. By the time it was over approximately 230,000 people were dead and hundreds of thousands of others injured or missing. Entire families, villages and towns were destroyed. Those of us who live half way around the world and only saw it on television will never truly understand just how awful this event was.

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A 2012 movie, The Impossible is a true account of one western family which happened to be in a Thai resort on Christmas vacation when the tsunami hit.  The filming is amazing and the viewer can really feel the impact of the wave. But this is not some “Hollywood disaster movie.” Every character comes across  as real and every death as tragic and heart wrenching.

Naomi Watts is the mother (Maria) who is severely injured during the wave. Getting caught up in a tsunami is not at all like being in a big surf wave. A tsunami is full of sharp and dangerous objects.  Pieces of wood, cement, houses and even cars can at any moment stab or crush you.

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Ewan McGregor plays the father (Henry) who is separated from Maria and the rest  in the wave and desperately tries to save himself while at the same time searching for his family.

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Unlike fake disaster movies, this one shows the real chaos and complete randomness that happens in real-life emergencies. For example, one of the heroes of the film is an old but muscular Thai man who has the build of a fisherman. Without saying a word, he picks up the injured Maria and carries her to the hospital at a run. He is only in the film for a few minutes and Maria never gets his name and is too weak to even thank him. The fisherman drops her off at the hospital and runs back towards the water looking for more injured people.  We never see him after that or find out what happened to him.

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The only criticism reviewers have had of this film is that it focuses too much on this western family and not enough on the Thais. In fact, the producers even Anglicized the family. The real family was from Spain and the producers have replaced the dark haired Maria Belon with the blonde “Maria Bennett” (Naomi Watts).

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Despite this flaw, this is an excellent movie. There is no way for a human to comprehend the true tragedy of 230,000 people killed in a single day without focusing on what it means to lose just one. By concentrating on the real story of one family in one place the movie has brought home to viewers this incomprehensible event.

We give this movie our highest rating of five stars *****

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