It seems many of us have had enough of films depicting fictional natural disasters, especially when they’re depicted in a way that strains our credulity while still leaving our jaw on the floor. Natural disasters in film seem to have the purpose of being made to look worse than they ever will in reality just for the sake of drama and heating up the digital computers. Once in a while, though, you’ll have a re-creation of a real disaster that plays up the real human toll associated with them.
“The Impossible” this December looks to bring that to the fullest realization we perhaps have ever seen so far about the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. And with the trailer showing a cast of Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, we have actors who can compellingly portray the horror a real-life family went through that day in Thailand alongside thousands of people. We also have a chance to see real methods of determination in surviving rather than seeing leaps of faith in surviving things that don’t hold literal water.
If movies are suddenly on to tsunamis as real hazards, why not give a very real scenario about a U.S. tsunami? With so many reports of late that the west coast of the United States is overdue for another subduction zone earthquake, the chances are very real within the next 50 years. And it’s not as if we don’t have precedent in prior and smaller tsunamis along the California and Oregon coasts in the 20th century.
Doing such a movie also helps bring more astute awareness to what may be America’s worst natural disaster next to earthquakes, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Oregon was reminded of that this year when a Japanese dock washed onto Newport’s Agate Beach after Japan’s horrendous tsunami in 2011. When we continue to hear how little prepared western U.S. beaches are for a repeat event, you realize how effective movies can be to put the fire to action.
Hollywood should get busy with a west coast tsunami movie in a scenario where the preparations come too little, too late. Of course, a person or group of people will be within all that chaos and know how to use their ingenuity to survive in the moment without it looking unbelievable. As in “The Impossible”, we need a fictional version of these people to show what could be done in helping others through such a calamity.
Most of all, however, the film needs to show what the destruction can be without it displaying overt hysteria you saw in “2012.” As we saw in Japan, a tsunami doesn’t have to be a 100-foot wall of water to cause the worst disaster humankind can conjure. Let’s bring a disaster movie that makes scientific sense to scare the living nightlights out of people.
We have to wish for it before a real tsunami hits the west coast of the United States and blows away all myths that nothing naturally calamitous can happen in that part of our country.