My latest film and book experiences have developed an unintended theme... Both the book Roots and the film The Impossible are stories of people surviving difficult circumstances that come out of horrifying events beyond their control: in Roots it is being enslaved, in The Impossible it is the devastating wave of the tsunami that hit southeast Asia in 2004.
Who was it that said, "If you haven't read it before, any book is a new book"?
Original cover of Roots - believed fair use, from Wikipedia,
Please read the argument for fair use on that (linked) site.
Roots has famously been around for a while - with a mini-series made from it in 1977 - but somehow I missed all that. (I was heads-down at my drafting board about then.) I'm glad I finally got around to it. A very good story. Memorable characters. And, of course, an important, painful, and less-romantic view of The American Experience... A film fest that showed Gone with the Wind followed by Roots and then To Kill a Mockingbird would be fascinating. (Shown in that order I think.) And harrowing.
Humans come across rather better in The Impossible, where the evil-circumstance is the inhuman and inarguable Wave that hits a beach resort. (It cut a swath through a huge territory, but this film concentrates on one resort area in Thailand and mostly one family.) Filming of the characters' tumbling through the water is absolutely terrifying. Irresistible power of water, chaos, fear. Memorable. As is the struggle of the local medical center to deal with the crisis. For film-chickens like me, the film's ending is up-beat enough to make the movie watchable.
A few nit-picks:
First issue: I can't help wondering if the local hospital administrator isn't watching this film and blurting, "Hey! It was never...! That didn't...!" I spent the latter part of the film thinking: "The whole country of Thailand and there's not one mop?" Things were extremely chaotic and understaffed, of course, but I bet there were a few mops too. Hollywood has been known to exaggerate for effect. Just sayin'.
Second issue: part of the appeal of Roots is its presentation as a true family story with a rather miraculous ability to trace a family back to its origins in Africa. Apparently... this IS too miraculous to be true. Wikipedia has an account of that story, but, basically... Read it as a novel.
If you're in the mood for exciting, harrowing, survival-stories, these are Good Picks!