The Impossible

The Impossible

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I’ve seen my fair share of disaster films, and the ones which resonate with me most, are those based on true stories. Last night I went to see The Impossible. I’d recommend that you go too…here’s the trailer.

Yes, Emmerich’s frozen New York is impressive, but lets face it, chances of Snowball Earth within a few days is pretty unlikely. Bayona’s tsunami however, well I remember that quite vividly.

Following the earthquake on Boxing Day 2004, I spent many of the subsequent days rapidly picking up German so that I could understand the TV reports (I was in Austria at the time). Similarly to 9/11, the scenes that were being shown looked like the work of Hollywood.

It wasn’t too long before some other breaking news slipped the tsunami down the agenda and out of mind of those not directly involved. However, as I watched the film yesterday Bayona did a great job at recreating the terror and posed some important questions about emergency preparedness (I wonder if he knew he was doing this?).

I don’t want to spoil the film for you, but difficult decisions abound

  • Do you think about risk before going on holiday? What preparations do you make?
  • Would you rescue the abandoned child or would you get yourself to safety? Could you separate yourself from your children to search for other family members?
  • What are your natural abilities, how could you use them to help the response effort?
  • How do you think you would cope without everyday luxuries? Language barriers?
  • Would you let other people use your mobile phone knowing that you can’t charge it when the battery runs out?
  • Do you operate on the patient with a limited chance of survival? How do you prioritise who gets scarce resources?

The rational part of me disagreed with some choices that the main characters made in response to these quandaries; but they weren’t wrong. Until we’re in that situation I think its impossible to predict what our response would be; and I think that’s the take away message.

Disaster films are not documentaries – they exaggerate reality and always have plot devices designed to elicit an emotive response. But the reason I love them, is that they continually ask “what would you do” and getting people to consider that is a great step forward.

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