Based on the real events happened on "Los Alfaques", a camping from Tarragona (Catalonia, northeast to Spain) which burned on July 11, 1978 with 350 dead and more than 500 injured, Los Arecales is a lovely and very visited coastal holiday destination where holidaymakers, families, groups, couples and singles meet in summertime, crossing their stories and lives in a idyllic scene of eternal relax, fun and harmony: a young patchwork family on the way to their first holiday together; a teenage couple tenting in Spain together for the first time without their parents' knowledge; an old and terminally ill military officer who on the last holiday of his life wants to reconcile with his gay son; an unhappy wife whose dominating husband cheats on and humiliates her; a truck driver that without his knowledge his truck has been drastically overloaded with fuel; a finally the truck driver's son, who learns the danger and tries to prevent the catastrophe before it happens. But when tragedy ...Written by
I missed the first 10-15 minutes of this film, such that it was a while before I cottoned on to what the film was about; when I did catch on I was utterly disheartened.
The film is loosely based on real facts: one dreadfully fateful day, just thirty years ago, a large tanker truck laden with highly combustible fuel went out of control, charged off the road and ploughed into the middle of a packed camping-site called "Los Alfaques" near Tarragona, Spain. The result was a couple of hundred killed and a couple of hundred others injured, mostly from burns, from the ensuing frightful explosion.
That such a horrendous subject matter should become the attention of some TV-film company near 30 years later is evidently open to very heavy criticism, to say the least. It is an appalling affront to anyone's sensibilities who can clearly remember that inferno on our TV screens at news-time, especially as it happened not very long after that terrible aviation accident at "Los Rodeos" Airport, Tenerife, Canary Islands, when two planes collided on the ground - and remains to this day the worst aviation disaster in history. Anybody want to make a film about that, too? Or do we need films about the attacks on the World Trade Center, New York, or on the public transit systems in Madrid and London?
I sincerely hope not: dramatised little stories trashed up and served for sensationalist tremendist appetites is more than somewhat unsavoury. This TV film is fairly well made in certain aspects, and rather weak in others. Acting and interpretation is too stereotyped into classical TV formulas, despite it being a German production (very many of the victims were indeed German people).
However, the scene-setting was more or less right, with just a few big faults. Firstly, there are only dead and injured bodies lying around in specific scenes, but not any can be seen in the more general shots of the camp-site burning hell. Secondly, the well-chosen vehicles of 30 years ago were using number plates which could only have appeared years later than this terrible tragedy.
It should be obvious that I do not like anything or anybody capitalising on true-story human tragedies.
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