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Paulette P. Williams
A tale of personal loss, survival and hope, TSUNAMI, THE AFTERMATH follows a group of fictional characters whose lives are irrevocably transformed by the cataclysmic natural disaster. Among those whose stories are followed are: a young couple searching for their child; a Thai survivor who loses his family and tries to prevent developers from seizing the land his village is built on; an Englishwoman whose husband and son are missing; an ambitious reporter; a relief worker; an overwhelmed British official whose faith in the system is torn apart; and a leading Thai meteorologist, whose earlier report detailing the inevitability of a tsunami hitting the affected area was ignored. Written by
The problem with making a film about a well-known disaster is that the obvious line of dramatic development is precluded precisely because everyone knows it before the film starts. In 'Titanic', James Cameron spun a tale about the spirit of the age, which he bound up with the famous event at the heart of the film; but 'Tsumami: the Aftermath' tries no such tricks, and sells us a straightforward catalogue of human misery and suffering. It's all very earnest, and unclear what the point is supposed to be. Countless survivors (with missing relatives) are shown responding with a mixture of dignity and disbelief in reality. This may be one response to tragedy, but it's not the only one, and in this film appears to be celebrated as the highest expression of the human condition: epitomised when one man stands up at a public meeting and is applauded for his heartfelt but impossible demand that his (dead) child is returned to him. Liekwise, the film stresses a view that those on the scene in a non-personal capacity needed to emotionally empathise with the feelings of the suffering, whereas one could argue that, when it comes to the rationing of limited resources, one actually needs officials who can be completely dispassionate, and who can turn down the heart-rending (and conventionally justified) demands of those who cry loudest to meet instead the needs of those with even greater need. Finally, there is a political sub-plot, but this is presented more as a means to the redemption of a cynical journalist (who, as you might have guessed, learns to care) than as an end in itself.
The review may sound pretty cynical in itself, and I don't want to belittle the appalling human suffering of the real life tragedy in any way. But this film's obsession with dignified emoting puts a very strange spin on the human condition.
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