Posts Tagged ‘true story’

Well here we are, another movie that is loaded with controversy. I must admit, when I first saw the trailer for The Impossible, I myself did think, “Um… it’s a movie about white people… when hundreds of thousands of Asian people died.” It is pretty hard not to think that when you see what they did with the trailer. But I still wasn’t exactly surprised. I figured this for a Hollywood movie – where the American people always get the centre of attention. I was wrong. There, I said it. Don’t make me say it again. 

Firstly, this is a true story, based on a Spanish family. Secondly, it is actually a Spanish made film. And thirdly, the family are actually portrayed as British. Although it is never actually said in the film. I figured they attached the actors and then cast the kids so it made sense. The real Maria – portrayed by Naomi Watts – was actually adamant that they were seen as people, not as any nationality. Still, I can’t help but thinking there was a million stories to be told, and they told this one. About a family of Westerners. There is barely any references to the native population that was killed. In fact, all we really see of the locals is them briefly helping people – all unscathed themselves like it was some sort of isolated event to only effect white people. Don’t get me wrong, The Impossible is a very moving film. I just feel as though it isn’t a true and fair portrayal of the Tsunami. I guess it isn’t supposed to be – it is about one family’s struggle. But there is no reason that family couldn’t have been Thai. I get that they wanted to market the film to an English speaking audience, hence the Britishness, but still – they could have just made the family speak English. Simple. People have been making Ancient Romans, Musketeers and Aliens speak English for years in movies when it didn’t make sense. It would have been overlooked. Also, I can’t help thinking that yes the family were obviously scarred about their ordeal. But they get to go home. The Asian people don’t. Their plight was only just starting. What about the clean up? The hunting for dead? Rebuilding homes?

Anyway… rant over. I suppose I should review the film. I will try to be unbiased! If you look at The Impossible without prejudice and just see it as a story of one family, then it is a good film. I pretty much cried from start to finish. The direction really helped to bring a sense of hopelessness and panic to an already good script. And I was highly impressed by all the actors involved. Special mention goes to the young Tom Holland who played the eldest son Lucas. Wow. What a job he did. When you steal scenes from Naomi Watts, you know you’re a talented lad. Ewan McGregor was, as usual, fantastic – surely one of the most underrated actors working today. Naomi Watts gave every bit the performance you would expect from her, and the casting of the family overall was spot on. They gelled as a unit, and despite little screen time altogether, you really believed they were a family.

For what The Impossible sets out to do – move you – it succeeds. But I stress that, although you do get a view of the Tsunami itself, it isn’t really a retelling of the disaster. I hope that a film properly portraying the Boxing Day Tsunami will follow shortly. Overall, this is a quality, well made film. But ethically, I feel they should have waited to make it. The first movie about the Tsunami should have represented the main people effected by the tragedy.


Sometimes I think that if guys like Freud, Plato and Thomas Aquinas (take that A-Level philosophy, I still remember some shit…)  were alive today, they wouldn’t be philosophers, they’d be movie reviewers. You can interpret more about human behaviour in the two hours it takes to watch a movie than you ever could evaluating 100 patients. I also think they’d like Desperate Housewives…

Anyway, a prime example of this 2 hour pop psych eval, is the movie The Experiment. If you know anything about this movie, well then I’m already expecting your ridicule. Why? Well because this movie is a remake of a German film. I know right… Shock horror, I’ve stabbed you all in the back! I revealed that I hate remakes, in fact I despise them and suddenly I’m throwing this very notion back in your faces… Well – no. Firstly, this is a true story and it was also a book. Therefore I wouldn’t necessarily call it remade… Just reimagined. And I know that is the same lame excuse movie studios give every day when they make piece-of-crap remakes… But I’m actually being sincere here. So give me the benefit of the doubt if you please.

So to the movie…

What’s it about?
Adrien Brody finally puts in another credible performance as a pacifist member of a social experiment in which 26 men are locked up together in order to simulate life in a state penitentiary (thats prison to you and I…). The twist? Well a number of the men are chosen to be guards of the prison, and are told no violence is allowed, yet they must make sure the inmates abide by a set of rules. If these rules are broken, they can punish, but not harm… The interesting part was being told that if violence did occur, then a siren and a red light would go off, the experiment would end and no one would get paid.

What they didn’t realise was that the experiment wasn’t about simulating prison at all but rather about whether ordinary, none violent people would maintain a moral compass rather than assuming the red light would tell them when they’d gone too far. The short answer is they didn’t. Each horrific act of psychological, physical or sexual torture was justified by, “If we had gone too far, the red light would have gone off.” In just 3 days, the chilled, friendly system was broken down and people assumed their primative positions as predator, oppressor or leader. And the worst thing was, they did so willingly and with enjoyment.

Let’s break it down…
Forest Whitaker played the leader of the guards who began the movie as a smartly dressed friendly guy who had probably never even raised his voice in anger before. So why the huge change? Well it wasn’t necessarily a big jump for him. His flashbacks showed a man who spent his adult life mentally abused by his invalid mother. He didn’t know how to stand up for himself. So when he was finally given the opportunity to take back some of the control he had so desperately craved for – he took it, he enjoyed it (to the point of sexual arousal) and he quickly spiralled out of control, both physically and mentally. Climaxing with all of his counterparts, who had initially been abusers along side him, telling him he was crazy and out of control – which is ironic given that is the one thing he craved. Messed up – I know.

However, out of all the guards, the only one I’d consider to have possibly been dangerous before even entering the experiment, it would be Cam Gigadnet’s character. He was what can only be described as a sex addict long before the film introduces him. Am I saying all sex addicts are dangerous? Of course not. But the backbone of this movie is that these individuals are placed into a manufactured high pressure environment. Which brings out the worse in people. Just as Forrest’s character was pushed and spiralled into a psychopath addicted to humiliation and control – Gigadnet’s became a sexual offender. However, it was a trait high on the surface all along. This was demonstrated by him in the beginning of the experiment,when he singled out his victim and tried to get him to expose his genitals. All it took was for him to get the opportunity to act on those violent urges for them to surface. Which they did.

Another interesting concept was Adrien Brodie’s character, nicknamed (against his will) 77, also spiraling, not into abuse but into a feeling of injustice. This is a man who said he didn’t even condone violence if the rapist/murderer of someone he loved was set free. And yet, 5 days into the experiment he is viscously beating Whitaker – who was most definitely the manufacturer of his suffering, which included head shaving, having his head shoved into a toilet and being urinated on – into a bloody pulp. It is here, when both guards and prisoners are acting at their most primative, and after one prisoner has already been killed, that the red light finally flashes. And then, as the door opens allowing escape, in the cold light of day, they are all seen to be equals again. Although they are most definitely not the same men.

Brody returns to his girlfriend, also a pacifist, looking like a broken man. And the two easy weeks that he thought he’d be spending in some simple psych experiment, made him face challenges and demons that he had before criticised and ridiculed.

The film was summed up nicely in the last few lines. When asked by another ‘inmate’ whether he still thought they were not like monkeys referencing an animalistic and primative nature, Brody replied “No, as we have a choice.” The choice in this instance being to forget about what it is that makes us human.

Overall, a solid thought provoking movie.