When The Impossible was released, there was a lot of liberal tooth-gnashing about the Eurocentricity of a movie about a cataclysmic event that affected Asian people in far, far greater numbers than the wealthy white folks on which it focuses. The argument, such as it is, is that the glossy Anglo family – stoutly played by Naomi Watts and Ewan MacGregor – are front and centre of the drama, whereas the Thai villagers of this story are relegated to silent, resolute, waif-like observers.
Well, you know what? To an extent that’s true. But the fact is, the film is based on a book, and the book is about the personal experiences of a Spanish family – and to suggest that they may not tell their own harrowing tale of survival because it is somehow not PC enough is just, frankly, bullshit. Please, please feel free, at any time to step up and make your own movie of the events – if you can make it pay. By all means criticise it if it’s a bad film. (It isn’t – it’s like a horror movie in reverse, the aftermath of the tsunami itself is horrifying, the separation of families is mortifying, and the sheer struggle for survival is overwhelming.) But please don’t censor filmmakers because their “angle” is not your angle. For what it’s worth, I came away with immense, immeasurable respect for the generous, kind Thais, who clearly managed to pull it together under inconceivably and unbearably difficult circumstances.
The Impossible filmed in a water tank in Alicante, Spain; the tsunami was recreated with a mixture of digital effects and real water surges using miniatures. Of course, it also filmed in Thailand.