I really wasn’t entirely sure how to digest watching a film about a natural disaster where a quarter million people have died or are presumed missing/lost. Nevertheless, Tsunami: The Aftermath is a compelling portrait of the events surrounding the 2004 event that resulted in the deaths of thousands of people.
Written by Abi Morgan (Brick Lane) and directed by Bharat Nalluri (The Crow: Salvation), the film was shown on HBO as a two part miniseries and focused on severa… areas. The first, and most predominant one (and its most emotional) was for Ian Carter (Chiwetel Ejiofor, Children of Men), who is separated from his wife and daughter, and undertakes an effort to find them both. It is especially painful for him as he was holding onto his daughter’s hand during the midst of the first wave, and lost his grip on her. Another is Than (Samrit Machielsen), a hotel worker who attempts to locate any members of his family that might have survived. The more recognizable faces for Western viewers are Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction), who plays a reporter who goes to the area to cover on the scope of damage, and Toni Collette (Little Miss Sunshine), who plays an Australian who works with the local officials to try and help recover and respond to the tragedy.
What makes the feature effective is that all it does is pulls from each group of people that were affected by the disaster, and shows the viewer what probably transpired when these people were in the midst of it all. There is no doubt that what occurred on December 26, 2004 was perhaps the most videotaped, televised disaster in world history, and some of that news footage is used in the film, but what this feature helps show is what went on when the cameras weren’t rolling.
The performances are also fairly strong, with everyone conveying the impression that they all had a valued stake in trying to do the right thing, or the selfless thing. It certainly does leave you with the feeling that at the end of the day, Mother Nature can still provide her own shock and awe.
Well, this is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and the picture looks good, but the problem I had when I watched it initially was that I thought it was non-anamorphic. So there may be a slight deviation from the original intent, but the picture looks good on DVD, so I’m not complaining.
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, which works on the environmental sounds, of which there are plenty, and the dialogue is reproduced accurately and clearly, without any distortion or concern.
Two featurettes cover all three plus hours of the film/miniseries, and they cover the making of the film and the visual effects involved.
Tsunami: The Aftermath certainly brings the goods when it comes to discussing the disaster. Could more have been done to warn the people of Phuket and other lands? Probably, but even so, with an event of this magnitude, there doesn’t seem to be a lot that people can prepare for nonetheless. It’s an effective piece of art that should be viewed at least once by those who are reading this.
Special Features List
- Making of Featurettes