Friday, December 21, 2012

"The Impossible" recreates the 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean

The new film “The Impossible”, by Juan Antonio Bayona, takes us, through the eyes of one Spanish family (depicted as British) through the tsunami that hit much of the Indian Ocean shorelines on December 26, 2004.

The tsunami hits the family, relaxing in a Thailand resort, suddenly, with a wind gust, odd animal behavior, and then a wave of about 20 feet smashing everything.

Almost any coastal community could be hit by a tsunami, perhaps generated from an earthquake across an ocean, thousands of miles away. The tsunami in the film was generated by an earthquake near Indonesia.  There is a volcano in the Canary Islands (Cumbre Vieja  or“Old Summit”) which could erupt, cause an underwater landslide generating a tsunami over 100 feet high toward the East Coast.

The movie is about the separation and reuniting of the family, which knows that if it can survive, it can go back to its own life in England (or Spain).  The film opens with plane experiencing turbulence (as if from “Flight”) and shows the husband Henry (Ewan McGregor) depending on his wife Maria (Naomi Watts) for reassurance that they locked their house up before leaving.  Partners in marriage can watch one another’s back.  They are both professionals, and she is a doctor, staying at home to raise the kids. He’s a bit neurotic about keeping his job.

Now, there are catastrophes that can destroy a homeland and be so overwhelming as to throw anyone into homelessness and poverty.  I’m at 300 feet, but if a Cumbre tsunami really could be several hundred feet, I would experience instant poverty.  The same could be true if we lost electricity for months, as with a huge solar storm or EMP.  Therefore, “radical hospitality” becomes an important resource.

Lucas (Tom Holland, who puts in a virtuoso performance) follows his badly wounded mother in a makeshift hospital.  You wonder why British and US Naval hospital ships weren’t available sooner to give the victims first class medical treatment.   

Henry is still back in the remains of the resort with his two other sons and must go on a tedious quest to find the rest of his family. At one point, he tells Thomas to look after the youngest child, and Thomas says, “I’ve never looked after anyone before”.  Good moral point.  Family responsibility doesn’t have to wait for having one’s own children.

The official site (Summit Entertainment) is here

I wondered how the movie would work if it had been filmed in Spanish with actors from that country. The film was shot in Thailand and Barcelona with a Spanish production company.

Apparently there is a version dubbed in Spanish (prepared by Warner Brothers).  

Well known designer and television personality Nate Berkus (who often appeared om Oprah) lost a partner to the tsunami while they both vacationed in SriLanka (all the way across the Indian Ocean). He has discussed this on the Oprah show. One wonders why people that far away didn't have enough warning to evacuate.

Wikipedia attribution link for animated map of 2004 tsunami.

Monday, December 03, 2012

"Solar Crisis", a B-movie from 1989, got made too early to grasp the potential solar storm crisis

There’s an earlier sci-fi film on the “solar flare” problem, titled “Solar Crisis”, directed by Richard C. Sarafian and Alan Smithee, dating back to 1989, from Trimark.

In 2025, there is a space station preparing to launch an anti-matter bomb on the sun to redirect a huge “coronal mass ejection” that may be capable of frying the entire Earth (or maybe just Mercury). The writing of the film is campy, and it seems to be a Japanese production with aging American stars (including Charlton Heston and Tim Matheson).  There is a bizarre subplot involving control of the Earth’s fried real estate (can one have land title to an entire planet?) , and some desert sandstorm scenes that resemble the Australian Mad Max and Thunderdome movies of the 80s.  The script describes plenty of other catastrophic plagues, such as locusts.
Newt Gingrich is said to have liked this film, but it come from far too early in the genre before scientists really knew to take the coronal mass ejection threat seriously. Ironically, though, the film was apparently made about the same time that Quebec had its big power outage in 1989 from a solar storm. 
The spaceship has a personable but bossy computer like "HAL" in the "2001: A Space Odyssey" classic.

There are some pretty interesting special effects showing the innards of solar storms or sunspots right at the end.

The DVD projects in full screen.   

Compare to “Solar Attack” and “Sunshine”  (Aug. 2, 2007 )on this blog.