‘The Impossible’: A Tragic Tale of the Impossibly Ignorant

It must have been a typical cold weekday close to Christmas. I was enjoying a bit of tele when a movie advert came on about a giant tidal wave hitting a perfect little Caucasian family in the midst of their happy playing. Their beautiful beach resort was ruined and their faces covered with mud, to which my response was as simple as, “Are you fucking kidding me?”. I simply could not believe a Hollywood blockbuster with one of those short, in vogue titles had been made out of the 2004 tsunami tragedy. With an estimated 230,000 Asian deaths, it was an unfathomable concept to grasp that a film about this event so boldly focused only on a privileged minority who were affected.

For a long time now there has been a gaping difference between what can be defined as a movie and what deserves to be credited as a film. Whilst they both serve the purpose of providing entertainment and escapism, the extent of fiction upon which a film is conducted remains irrelevant to its beauty; a movie on the other hand is audaciously superficial, with its predictable plot and bold assumption that the audience is stupid. Then again, movies are an American phenomenon… With soaring cinema prices forever increasing at extortionate rates (except for in Birmingham where it feels like every day is Orange Wednesday), it is sad that this form of entertainment is increasingly infiltrated by awful, no good for us productions; take for instance, every RomCom since the millennium.

Whilst The Impossible may have been applauded as ‘beautifully accurate’ by other fellow privileged Western survivors of the the tsunami, there is purely no accuracy in the failure to focus on the true victims of the tsunamis; those 1.7 million who lost their homes and everything they owned. Luckily for the Bennett family, the lush holiday resort that got destroyed isn’t theirs and they can go back to their real homes with all their belongings in place (unless they got robbed).

The ending may be happy for this particular family, but for nearly two million people it was pure tragedy and this movie does nothing but let this reality literally wash over the audiences heads.

This, for any film critics reading, counts as a bad  review.


Photo credit: jemasmith


15 thoughts on “‘The Impossible’: A Tragic Tale of the Impossibly Ignorant”

    1. In all seriousness my stand is more anti-Hollywood than anti-American, I played harshly on some stereotypes to rev up the discourse so sorry for any offences!!

      1. It’s not actually a “Hollywood” film – the director certainly isn’t Hollywood and neither are the producers… or the writer. The stars, I guess, but they’re not really ‘behind’ the film in the same way. You might want to read this article:
        I think it’s wrong to assume from two minutes of advertising that a film about the Boxing Day Tsunami is superficial and inconsiderate just because it is not told from the point of view of one of the natives who died in it.

        1. John did you read my article or just assume my stance because the article you recommended was a key reference of mine!

          What you have said here about me being judgmental about the trailer is answered by my comment below:

          ‘The trailer is a key element of a movie production, in that it serves to draw in an audience. The way this movie was portrayed in its trailer worked to show me every reason not to go and see it, and to instead write a piece on why films like this should not be made or seen.’

          Whether it’s actually Hollywood or not, it certainly seems to have taken notes from Hollywood “success stories” (i.e. highly grossed movies).

          One of the natives that died in it? I think you meant

          Nuf said John!

  1. The film industry is a business like any other. The sad truth is that most Western audiences would find it difficult to relate to an Indonesian family, or any other asian family for that matter, poor or otherwise.

    Movie Producers could choose to make a more culturally considerate and accurate film, however they would find it less likely to line their pockets. The majority of audiences go to see a film to be entertained, not educated.

    Having said this, I share your disappointment and won’t be paying to see this film.

    1. Because film has so much potential influence, it should as a result be regulated, considering it thus plays a massive responsibility in providing its audience with content that isn’t massively distorted for the purpose of grossing high profits.

      The reason most Western audiences are so apathetic towards people who aren’t “their own kind” (yuk), is because they get away with it. Movies like this tell them it’s OK to focus on their own kind.

      The movie industry needs to step up to its responsibilities and start doing the world some good, cos it unquestionably has the power to.

      1. Just to add a little fuel to the fire.. What do you think about the debate regarding the ‘misrepresentation’ of torture in Zero Dark Thirty. Some people might say that this kind of distortion (although I’m not agreeing that it is) is far more of a problem – and dangerous.


        Regulation of the film industry in this sense goes against it’s expression. It’s a difficult situation, because although we should know that film is ‘fiction’ even if it’s based on true events, it is a human condition to be influenced by our world – whether it’s film, music, media, or peers.

  2. Of course I wrote this on the basis of only seeing the trailer! As if I actually paid to see it. The beauty of movies is you don’t have to see a lot of them to make valid comment……. The trailer is a key element of a movie production, in that it serves to draw in an audience. The way this movie was portrayed in its trailer worked to show me every reason not to go and see it, and to instead write a piece on why films like this should not be made or seen.

    Nonetheless, it wasn’t supposed to be a film review. It was more a reflection on the more often than not distorted glamorisation of invalid content within the movie industry as a whole

  3. It’s sad to hear that films like these go on air. This film is pretty much saying Indonesian lives are not worthy because they are from a Third World Country.

  4. What an incredible load of Bull Crap! I actually SAW the movie and it is a very powerful, touching movie about the trials of a family during a tragic catastrophe and the impossible odds that they could all survive and be reunited. The fact that it isn’t from the perspective of the local people doesn’t in any way take away from the story, it merely makes it easier for me to relate to. The film also touched me with scenes of compassion from the locals in spite of enormous personal tragedies. Just because the hero/heroin don’t fit into your limited mold of how it should be portrayed is no reason to lambaste the film (Especially if you haven’t even seen it) and your trivialization of the struggles of the family involved illustrates exactly how shallow you actually are. If you want to see a documentary watch The History Channel.

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