The Impossible

Every once in a while a film comes along that makes you stop and think about how some films even get made. You wonder if there is ever a point during production when everyone stops and looks at each other and says “I think we’ve got something here,” or alternatively if the director ever drops his head and says “what are we doing?” Then there are films like The Impossible where what’s shocking is that it made it to the production stage at all.

Set in Thailand before, during and after the tsunami in 2004, The Impossible finds it necessary to tell the story of a natural disaster that killed roughly 230,000 local inhabitants through the eyes of a privileged white family who survive and get to fly away in the end. The filmmakers even changed this “true” story by recasting the Spanish family as white Brits.

It’s important to note here that the film is Spanish, but stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor to give it that nice shiny white gloss. Hollywood, for its part, has not made a film which so deliberately misrepresents the experiences of white people abroad since the original King Kong.

Despite conveniently pasting over the plight of those who really suffered in the tsunami ,there is a laughable amount of gore which reaches a bloody crescendo when Naomi Watts vomits up her intestines or something in a gut-barfing contest with the (white) lady in the bed next to her. At least it would be laughable if by this point we had not already seen Watts’ character suffer and scream and bleed enough to satisfy even the most perverted misogynists.

So philosophically, it’s borderline fascist, but the fun doesn’t stop there. The music ranges from the stock reserve of “something terrible is about to happen” ominous strings to “sure isn’t it grand” sentimental rubbish. The story is little more than a piece of capitalist propaganda, specifically, designed to make an audience think everything’s okay. It’s basically a happy-meal onscreen; it satisfies you as long as you don’t think too much about what’s in it. The Impossible is in cinemas from 01 January 2013. Watch the trailer now on

Stephen Murphy

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