On Telling Stories

Le mur de la prison de la Santé, Paris by Edith Gérin, c 1970

Le mur de la prison de la Santé, Paris by Edith Gérin, c 1970

19 October 2013
10:12 AM


I’ve watched The Impossible a few months ago and I cried the whole time. At one point it occurred to me if I was being emotionally manipulated–I hate these kinds of movies–but I brushed the thought aside in favour of just feeling. Just feeling. After all, I wasn’t there, but I was close enough, lived close enough, that for a time their fear was my fear, too.

I said to myself, thinking is for later. For now, release. I don’t know if I was really crying for the characters in the film–I might have–or for my own tragedies, or for victims in my own country who have been devastated, time and again, by various calamities. But cry I did. After all, that part about being lost and being alone and being scared and being found–that is universal. I went to bed with a headache and a heavy heart.

A few days after that, I allowed myself to be critical. There’s no denying how Anglo-centric the film is, but of course that might have always been the premise. I don’t know the publicity behind it, if they have marketed it as such–that it will purely focus on the tourists visiting. If they said otherwise, then I would be sorely disappointed. As I have been a few years back, watching another documentary/movie-made-for-TV, that one by HBO. It’s ironic, how movies get made about events like these, and how the protagonists are those who don’t even live in the area. I always believe that storytellers have a big responsibility, especially on stories that have impacted real lives–but sometimes the truth gets lost in the telling.

I can’t remember exactly how it was when it happened in 2004. I was still in school, and worrying about trivial things. What I can remember is the earthquake in Chile sometime around 2010, and in Japan in 2011. The Pacific-wide tsunami warning included us, and that made my heart leap to my throat a few times.

I want to tell you more but I need to go out on an errand. Hopefully I’ll be able to pick this up again later.

Good morning,


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