That this new film The Impossible leaves a nasty taste in my mouth?

(60 Posts)
CatPussRoastingOnAnOpenFire Sun 30-Dec-12 23:09:48

Ive just seen a trailer for this. Its about the 2004 tsunami.
About a blonde haired, white family, caught in the disaster, and their fight for survival.

I have then loked at the reviews. Here are a few snippets:
When not fully engrossed in our characters' plights and emotionally tied to their survival, we are thoroughly repulsed by the graphic scenes of bodily destruction that blood soak the screen. Director J.A. Bayona is no stranger to horrific make-up effects as he was the genius behind the camera for The Orphanage (2007) and he pulls no punches here. Some audience members were seen turning their heads unable to ingest the graphic nature of effects and few were even seen exiting while the scenes played out in long detail.

The downsides; there's something a little off-putting about choosing a white, privileged family as a focus, while at the same time showing almost exclusively other white people as suffering and afraid in a disaster that killed far more local people than tourists. The Thai's are certainly shown in a good light, kindly helping all these suffering whites, but even in the hospital, almost every face we see in a bed is a white one. That hint of odd racial insensitivity is also underlined by replacing the original family, who were Spanish and dark, and making them into a gorgeous blond English family, a telling choice in a 'true' story.

The film pretends to be about "universal goodwill", about how "tragedy brings people together". It's also relentlessly dehumanising. People do not matter unless they're white, the film filled with white victims and the white dispossessed. Local characters are either invisible or reduced to a couple rescue units at the bidding of white sufferers. Whilst many have complained that our foregrounded characters are white, that's not really the problem. The problem's that background characters are likewise. The fact that the vast majority of the dead, injured and displaced were Asian never registers. This has an interesting effect. In the way the film panders to white audiences whilst pretending to be about the universality of suffering, it's message becomes, unconsciously, that whites don't care about non-whites and target audiences identify only with their own. It's not economically feasible to cater to the Other. Of course it's fitting that a film about universal goodwill largely ignores the suffering of non-white characters. The real life event hinged on a similar social dismissal. A film about the plight of wealthy, vacationing Westerners which turns a blind eye to the deaths of thousands of locals perfectly sums up the lesson of the tsunami itself; they don't matter.

QOD Sun 20-Jan-13 16:24:57

I've seen it, was horribly shocking but those comments about it being all about the white family was bollocks. We actually came out and were discussing with our teens about how utterly amazing the Locals where. They had nothing and gave everything to "the whites"

My friend I went with is a teacher and we decided, that a bit like The Boy In The Striped Pajamas, it should become a "watched during school" type of film at some point as the kids cannot grasp anything really unless they see it.

Was no more gratuitous than any war movie, schindlers list etc.
yes the STORY at the centre was about a western family, but it really did show how and what affect it had on the locals.

Alisvolatpropiis Sun 20-Jan-13 17:43:34

Sinister 99% of the first class passengers on the Titanic were wealthy English people and Americans...that's historically factual.

People lived and died by the class system then in a way we wouldn't now. It's not racist at all.

HyvaPaiva Sun 20-Jan-13 17:46:19

I came on here to share the quote from Maria Belon that starlady has already provided. I also agree with Qod. It's not about nationalities - and in any case, it did affect 'blonde, white families' as well as Asian families. In the film, the family happen to be white, the chosen setting happens to be Thailand. I know locals in Sri Lanka who worked damned relentlessly to help both other locals and tourists. They certainly wouldn't care which particular nationality or family the film focused on: the focus was on how survival was possible and successful. The film does represent the sheer hard work of local communities to survive huge disaster.

amandine07 Sun 20-Jan-13 19:04:18

I'd like to add- I've seen the film and the family did not hire a private plan to get out of Thailand.

It was via their insurance company and it was a medical evacuation to Singapore as the mother needed more medical care.

I believe that the mother in real life, Maria Belon, had to have her leg amputated due to the severity of her injuries.

I'd say that people should watch the film for themselves- I didn't come away from the film thinking the family were rich/entitled/didn't help anyone else.
The teenage son (who was a very impressive actor) went round the hospital trying to help reunite other families...his mother, while seriously I'll on a makeshift hospital bed, had encouraged him to go and help others in any way he could.

starlady Sun 20-Jan-13 19:35:58

yes amandine - and I think that last scene of them getting on the plane, and the body and leaving it all behind, made a really big point - about their surivors guilt mixed in with their sheer relief at being able to do this.

I really hope that Maria Belon hasn't read any of the unpleasant, kneejerk politically motivated criticisms, or at least, taken them to heart. She sounds like an amazing woman.

This was the world's biggest recorded natural disaster. I'd forgotten about that till this film. The Titanic sinking spawned so may films, perhaps The Impossible will pave the way for a larger audience for a film from a Thai perspective.

So yes OP, I think you have been a tad Unreasonable in your dismissal of this film.

ThedementedPenguin Sun 20-Jan-13 19:50:46

I've seen it. I thought the movie was very good and it was very sad.

It is a true story so this happened to someone. It was someone's reality at that point in time.

It can be quite graphic in times but no worse than other movies I've seen.

FairPhyllis Sun 20-Jan-13 19:55:24

^And I think the Schindler's List question was a good one. Do the people who find The Impossible offensive find Schindler's list offensive too?

Both are true. Both are based on real people (Oskar Schindler/real Spanish family). Both show death.^

I think the difference is that I don't have any expectation of the Impossible (which I'm not going to see) being about anything other than the spectacle of the disaster. That feels ghoulish to me, to go to be entertained by things being flooded and smashed up, and wallowing in the sheer destruction, knowing that it was real so very recently. Same goes for Titanic. Schindler's List (which I actually haven't seen, although I know the story) seems more of a character study and about examining the moral choice Schindler and people like him were able to make. That seems like a film which at least has the potential to say something about the Holocaust and how people reacted to it morally - its not just about showing industrial scale suffering.

And FYI many Holocaust scholars are highly sceptical about the moral and social effects of the way the Holocaust is represented in film, including in Schindler's List. It's not necessarily a good example to pick, because some people do find it offensive.

stickingattwo Sun 20-Jan-13 21:56:46

YABU - you should actually watch a film before you judge it.

It's an extraordinary story because an entire family survived a direct hit from a tsunami - including 3 young kids. It isn't unnecessarily gruesome - but the mother was terribly injured, and that's shown because it make her survival all the more miraculous.
50% of the 300k+ people who died in South East Asia were "foreigners" tourists, westerners. The film shows all nationalities western and asian.

Go see the film then decide, if you still think YANBU fair enough.

stickingattwo Sun 20-Jan-13 22:05:57

Oh and all that about them being rich, hiring a private jet etc = that's all rubbish. They were a fairly ordinary middle class Spanish family living in Japan because the dad had a job there, they took a holiday in thailand. the mother was a DR who was on a career break looking after the kids. They get a medical flight to Singapore provided by their TRAVEL insurance because she was still very ill and needed more treatment. Which is kind of the point of travel insurance. The Thai hospitals were totally overwhelmed by the numbers of critically injured so I guess staying there really wasn't an option.

pawpawya Mon 21-Jan-13 09:11:25

I don't believe in the "too soon" thing as a general principle, it is for those personally connected with a tragedy to decide when it is too soon for them to watch something for entertainment that depicts or plays off of it. If it interferes with their grieving and recovery process then they can find something more appropriate for them.

I am somewhat more concerned about the racial issues, though Django Unchained has been monopolising the talk of race in cinema over these past months... if you want to watch high-quality narratives without a Eurocentric/white bias I would recommend the films of Thailand, Japan and South Korea: there is a whole range to be explored from those regions.

People get different things out of the cinema, which is fine- there is not one regimented "correct response" to it. Wrt Startail the majority of people do seem to want escapism at the cinema, which is why they make money putting on fantasy blockbusters, supernatural horrors, grand historical pieces and fluffy/gross-out comedies at your average multiplex in your average city. As for me, I associate the cinema with philosophical discourse and multicultural exploration, and so you'll find me in the smaller specialist or "repertory" cinemas. Both ends of the spectrum and some in between can all be profitable even in an age of Blu-ray, full HD and tablets- the social experience is something not replicable by home ents technology.

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