The Impossible: A Family Torn by a Tsunami and Reunited by Fate

***SPOILER ALERT*** Jons, one half of “my best friends”, recommended that I watch this movie and luckily, my brother Jami has already done so and made the same remark. That afternoon I watched it, and I couldn’t describe in one word how I felt. There were scenes that made me call out to a Supreme Being, moments when I thought only one of them would survive, moments that make me realize the value of FAMILY. Jons is right. This movie will make you want to grab (and probably never let go of) your family and those you hold dear.

Critically acclaimed movie The Impossible
Critically acclaimed movie The Impossible

The movie is about a Spanish family based in Japan, who went to Thailand to celebrate their Christmas in the tropical paradise (Phuket). The day after the Christmas celebrations, in what is now tagged as the Boxing Day Tsunami that killed 240,000 in 14 countries in 2004,  Quique / Henry (played by Ewan McGregor and referred to in the movie as Henry), his sons Lucas, Thomas and Simon were all playing in the pool while their mother Maria (Naomi Watts) sat on one of the beach benches as she read a book. The ground shook and the next thing they know is a very big wave was coming and everyone was just underwater. Quique and his sons Thomas and Simon were together, while Maria and eldest son Lucas were apart from the 3. In a very descriptive and graphic interpretation of the surging wave and people going through it – how they managed to surface, what hit them while underwater, what they thought of while this was all happening –  director Juan Antonio Bayona retells what transpired, from the eyes of this family at least, in that fateful day December 26, 2004.

In an interview on the website www.thesun.co.uk survivor Maria, who is also a doctor, said that according to the doctors, she was underwater for 3 minutes since her lungs were full of water (and mud). She had a deep wound on her leg, and a cut on her chest. Among the 5, she was hurt worst. But during the aftermath, when she and her son Lucas where trying to take refuge on a tree nearby, they heard a little boy crying for help. Despite Lucas’ hesitation and fear, Maria helped the kid (a Swedish boy named Daniel) until they were rescued by townspeople.

Maria and eldest son Lucas after the tsunami struck
Maria and eldest son Lucas after the tsunami struck

The camera would always zoom out to make the audience realize that although it centered on a family’s account, there were thousands who also died, lost their family, and suffered terribly in this disaster. Quique is shown searching for Maria and Lucas and I thought that the 2 younger boys did not make it through the tsunami. But he actually left them on top of their hotel’s roof with some other adults, in search of his wife and eldest son. Later in the film, he tells other victims that it was the hardest decision he ever made.

Henry (Quique) gives instruction to his 8-year old middle child Thomas to look after youngest son Simon (5) while he looks for mom and Lucas
Henry (Quique) gives instruction to his 8-year old middle child Thomas to look after youngest son Simon (5) while he looks for mom and Lucas

I would agree with the title, The Impossible, because of all the families down there that day, most of them, and may they rest in peace, went home with either only one child out of 5, one parent, or totally alone. But this family, despite the power of the wave, their love for each other and with  a little twist of fate,  found itself reunited in one of the hospitals, after so much searching and anguish. Daniel is also reunited with his dad. But not everyone has a happy story to tell. And we owe it to the Belon (real last name) family for sharing this traumatic and unforgettable story about the will to survive, love of family, and hope that shined the brightest amid all the mud, and the dead. Lucas, who was only 10 years old then, was the focal point of the movie because if not for him roaming the then-familiar maze of hospital beds and tents, he wouldn’t have been found by his brothers and his dad. Although we were all rooting for Maria to survive, who was in the hospital bed most of the time, it was Lucas’ presence of mind and determination that brought them all back. Now an 18-year old boy taking up Medicine in London, recalls how he thought it was actually the end of the world. The Impossible gives us a ray of hope that when all things seem impossible, we have to think again. Catch it in cinemas near you =)

Postscript: since I don’t want to be sued, if you guys want to check out the picture of the family that inspired the movie, please click / copy and paste the link below:

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/woman/real_life/4727569/boxing-day-tsunami-maria-alvarez-the-impossible.html Photos courtesy of wikipedia.org

24 thoughts on “The Impossible: A Family Torn by a Tsunami and Reunited by Fate”

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