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This week, Netflix is removing The Impossible, a 2012 film dramatizing the 2004 Christmas holiday tsunami that devastated southeast Asia and particularly Indonesia and Thailand.

The film made me think about “preparedness,” a concept that gets a lot of traction in the world these days. The real world has a way of undoing all one’s planning. In the face of this natural disaster, it didn’t matter what equipment you owned or what martial arts you may have learned, you were at the mercy of nature and the kindness of your fellow human beings.

It is often said, and probably just as often ignored, that what is important is the most simple. Being physically fit, healthy, and capable of running, swimming, climbing, and otherwise functioning under physical stress was the most important set of skills for anyone trapped in the aftermath of this disaster. Well, second most important. Above all, it was pure luck. Luck to survive the wave without being killed, the luck to be found and treated for injuries, the luck to be standing in the right place when the wave hit.

Something like a quarter of a million people were killed in this disaster, anfd countless more suffered tremendous loss.

The film itself was not horrible, but not really my cup of tea. I guess I’m not a huge distaster/survivor genre fan to begin with, and as purely a story, this was not an exceptional one. What made it stand out is that it was written by the survivor (the female lead, played by Naomi Watts) based on her actual experience. The real drama, perhaps, was the “impossible” circumstances alluded to in the title – which I’ll not dwell on as it kind of ruins the movie.

Reading the reviews of this came out, however, makes me wonder. The movie was critically acclaimed, with a large amount of praise going to the genuineness of Ms. Watt’s emotional acting. Which seems bizarre to me. Bad acting can ruin a movie, but I think it takes more than a believable character to make a good one. On the flip side, the criticisms were equally off. The main criticism is that the film was too “white.” A disaster which impacted millions of Asians is told through the eyes of a Western family and “that’s just wrong.” Oddly enough, the review I read didn’t mention that the main characters were, in real life, Spanish but were portrayed as Australian (I think) for the film. They also failed to mention the half a dozen films made about the tsunami, purely from the local ethnic point of view. Again, if that’s the worst you can say about a film…

Perhaps once again I owe a nod to Netflix for getting me to watch something I would have otherwise passed over.

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