‘The Impossible’ is based on this family’s horrifying true story

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  • impossible A film based on the true story of the Belon-Alvarez family, which survived the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
  • The family’s harrowing experiences and miraculous reunions serve as testament to the strength of the human spirit in the face of disaster.
  • The making of the film was an emotional undertaking for the family, who returned to the actual locations and relived their trauma, hoping to ultimately honor those who did not survive.

On December 26, 2004, at 7:59 am, a major underwater earthquake occurred in the Indian Ocean, registering 9.1 on the Richter scale. Over the next hours, coastal areas of many countries in the region were bombarded by a devastating tsunami, causing devastation from Southeast Asia to East Africa. An estimated 225,000 people would ultimately lose their lives, and many thousands more would be left displaced, injured, and traumatized in one of the deadliest natural disasters in history., A family of five European tourists were among the countless victims of this tragedy, and their traumatic experiences served as the foundation of 2012. impossible, Starring Naomi Watts, Ewan Mcgregorand a 14 year old tom hollanddirector JA Bayona’s film shows the Belon-Alvarez family’s struggle to survive When their Christmas vacation takes an unexpectedly terrifying turn.

impossible movie poster


The story of a tourist family from Thailand stranded after the destruction and chaos of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

release date
4 January 2013

Juan Antonio Bayona

Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland, Samuel Joslin, Oakley Pendergast, Marta Attura


114 minutes

main style

Drama, History, Thriller

Sergio Mr. Sanchez, Maria Belon

There is nothing more powerful than the human spirit.

What happened to the Belon-Alvarez family?

However the name was changed to Bennetts and it came from the UK impossibleIn real life the Belon-Alvarez family is from Spain. Along with their sons Lucas, Simon and Tomas, parents Maria and Enrique traveled from their home in Japan to a Thai resort in Khao Lak for Christmas in 2004. On the third day of my tropical stay, They were relaxing by the pool when suddenly a tsunami hit the resort and surrounding areas, Recalling the moment before the tsunami hit, Maria recalls, “We started to hear this terrible noise. It felt like the earth was falling apart but everything looked fine. I was looking out to sea and Saw a giant black wall. I didn’t do that.” “I thought it was the ocean. I thought it was a black wall coming to get us.”

Maria was reportedly underwater for about three minutes, and after surfacing and struggling to stay afloat in the whirlpool of water and debris, she miraculously found her eldest son, Lucas. Clinging to a tree in the rapidly rising current, Maria and Lucas struggled to stay above the waterline until the water calmed down. Meanwhile, Enrique and his two young sons, Tomás and Simon, are swept away by the giant wave. Emerging from the chaos, Enrique found Tomas taking shelter in a tree and, about an hour later, found Simon in another tree.

Badly injured, but mobile, Maria and Lucas begin the difficult task of finding shelter. After reaching and rescuing a Swedish boy, they were freed with the aid of a Thai man. Maria recalls, “That man wouldn’t let me die.” “He dragged me through the mud for a long time until he was sure I was in good hands.” After two days of trekking through a devastated Thai landscape that resembled something out of an apocalyptic movie, the Belon-Alvarez family, against all odds, was reunited at a local hospital. Suffering life-threatening injuries to her chest and thigh, Maria had to undergo extensive surgical operations and was flown to a hospital in Singapore, where she would remain for four months.

How did the Belon-Alvarez story catch Hollywood’s attention?

Tom Holland and Naomi Watts in 'The Impossible'
Image via Warner Bros.

According to the LA Times, The story of the Belon-Alvarez family attracted attention by chance, After unexpectedly securing a radio interview after calling a station, María Belón publicly recounted her family’s experience, which was overheard by the mesmerizing filmmaker Belén Atienza while traveling. Atienza remembers that she was “obsessed with this mother who was in a position where she couldn’t bear to die.” Although it would be a long process, Maria Belon and Belen Atienza formed a partnership to bring the heartbreaking story to the silver screen. Bellone said of his first meeting with the film production team, “When we first met, I had two objectives.” impossible, “One was trying to scare them and the other was to look them in the eyes and see if they were the ones who really wanted to swallow this big responsibility.”

For more than five hours, she told her story to a spellbound audience, including director JA Bayona, whom Belon remembers had tears in her eyes and was “breathing heavily.” Despite some hesitation from Enrique Álvarez, who found his family’s story an intriguing film to adapt, work began on what would become impossible, But the journey to the screen was time-consuming, taking two years of script development, with Bellone being closely involved. Upon completion, Bayona and his international cast and crew traveled to Southeast Asia to begin production on the film. Not surprisingly, Belon’s intimate involvement proved difficult in reconstructing and reliving the traumatic events he and his family experienced.

Making ‘The Impossible’ was an emotional undertaking for the Belon-Alvarez family

Opting to shoot on real locations, including the Orchid Beach Resort where the Belon-Alvarez family stayed and the hospital where they were reunited, JA Bayona sought a level of authenticity that could not be replicated on sound stages or sets . Supporting the idea, Maria and her family went back to Thailand for the first time since 2004 to act as consultants on the production. “I could almost feel all the spirits there,” Maria told the LA Times. “We had to go back with different emotions than how we went. We went back feeling pain, shock.”

Months later, the family watched impossible for the first time. Although watching the film was an overall challenging experience that Maria characterized as a “roller coaster”, the full emotional weight of watching it did not hit her until it neared its conclusion. Faced with the unimaginable scale of loss of human life as a result of the disaster, They were reminded of the harsh reality that thousands of survivors would never see their loved ones again, He said of the film’s impact, “It’s for the people who didn’t make it and for the people who survived.” “I think about them every day – those who are suffering, those who miss people. I don’t miss people in my life. And missing people is the worst thing that can happen.”

What happened to the Belon-Alvarez family after ‘The Impossible’?

In recent years, each member of Belon-Alvarez has been continuously progressing and spreading goodwill among others. María Bellón lives in Barcelona, ​​working as a doctor, a motivational speaker and an advocate for victims of natural disasters. In a similar philanthropic spirit, Enrique Alvarez has used his experience of survival to volunteer for a non-profit organization that assists refugees traveling through the Mediterranean Sea. “Having gone through certain situations in the past doesn’t discourage you,” he said. Told The Huffington Post. “Instead, you empathize more with others. Things feel closer.” Following in their parents’ philanthropic footsteps, Maria and Enrique’s three sons shared a desire to help others. Lucas studied medicine at the University College of London, and according to the BBC, Tomas attended a lifeguard program at the University of Wales. The youngest Simon also trained as a lifeguard and occasionally worked with his father in the Mediterranean.

“I don’t deserve to be alive, but life isn’t fair,” Maria Bellon told People in 2020. “I feel pain and compassion for the many others who did not return or lost those they loved.” thought impossible Presents a live recreation of events experienced by just one family, Its description of suffering and survival against overwhelming odds serves as a microcosm for thousands of people around the worldFiltering their collective suffering and resilience through an intimate yet universal lens of the human spirit.

impossible Available to stream on Netflix in the US

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