The Impossible

The Impossible Information

The Impossible () is a 2012 English-language Spanish disaster drama directed by Juan Antonio Bayona and written by Sergio G. Sánchez. It is based on María Belón's and her family's experience of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The cast includes Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Tom Holland, among others. The film received positive reviews from critics for its direction and its acting, especially for Watts who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress " Motion Picture Drama, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role.


English physician Maria Bennet (Watts), her Scottish husband Henry (McGregor) and their sons Lucas (Holland), Thomas (Samuel Joslin), and Simon (Oakley Pendergrast) were on Christmas holiday in Khao Lak, Thailand, in 2004. The tsunami triggered by that year's Indian Ocean earthquake flooded the area with overwhelming destructive power.

Maria and Lucas were swept away from the others by the tsunami and barely survive; Maria was severely injured, but they found a displaced toddler named Daniel in the wreckage. They were later found by locals who transferred them to a local hospital where Maria encouraged Lucas to occupy himself assisting in any way he can, which led to him searching for various strangers for their relatives at the facility. Due to a mix-up, the hospital staff believed she has died and took Lucas to a tent where children without families were being held. Maria has surgery on her injured chest and was mistakenly labeled as someone else. She was eventually reunited with Lucas but remained in a highly fragile medical state waiting to be deemed fit for further surgery on her leg wound.

Elsewhere, Henry, Thomas, and Simon have survived the tsunami themselves together, although the father was injured. Henry placed the children into a vehicle supposed to take tourists to a safe place while he remained behind to search for Maria and Lucas. Ultimately further injured while failing to find them, he arrived at the evacuation point, only to discover that Thomas and Simon have been sent elsewhere. Communication facilities were scarce, but a tourist named Karl, who was also separated from his family by the tsunami, lent Henry his cell phone to contact his relatives and volunteers to accompany Henry to look for Maria and Lucas.

Henry and Karl searched for their families in various places before they arrived at the hospital where Maria and Lucas are. The vehicle carrying Thomas and Simon stopped outside the hospital; the family eventually reunited. Maria has surgery which she survived, and the following day the family boarded an ambulance airplane to Singapore arranged by their insurance company for further treatment for Maria.


  • Naomi Watts as Maria Bennett, a physician and the mother of the Bennett family.
  • Ewan McGregor as Henry Bennett, the father of the Bennett family.
  • Tom Holland as Lucas Bennett, the 12-year-old son of Maria and Henry.
  • Samuel Joslin as Thomas Bennett, the seven-and-a-half-year-old son of Maria and Henry.
  • Oakley Pendergast as Simon Bennett, the 5-year-old son of Maria and Henry.
  • Sönke Möhring as Karl Schweber, a German man trying to find his wife and daughter. He joins Henry to find their families.
  • Geraldine Chaplin as an old woman


The film was a co-production of Spanish film companies Apaches Entertainment and Telecinco Cinema, and employed much of the same crew from The Orphanage, including the director, writer, production manager, cinematographer, composer, and editor. Principal photography began 23 August 2010, in Alicante, Spain, and continued in October in Thailand.

Director Juan Antonio Bayona decided not to specify the nationalities of the main characters in order to create a universal film in which nationalities were irrelevant to the plot.

The tsunami was recreated with a mixture of digital effects and real water surges using miniatures that were destroyed by a huge wave created in a water tank in Spain. Bayona committed to working with real water, rather than a computer generated wave, because he wanted the story to be authentic. This meant actors Naomi Watts and Tom Holland spent five weeks filming physically and psychologically demanding scenes in a massive water tank. 16-year-old Holland later described it as a "scary environment ...You can imagine how tiring and brutal that was."

The film marks the second collaboration between Watts and McGregor after appearing together in the 2005 film Stay.


Warner Bros. released the film in Spain on 11 October 2012. The United States distribution rights were pre-bought by Summit Entertainment. A teaser trailer was released on 26 December 2011. After a full-length English-language trailer was released on 20 August 2012, a United States release date was confirmed by Summit of 21 December 2012. The Impossible had its world premiere at the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival on 9 September, where it received critical acclaim. The film was released on 11 October 2012, in Spain and in North America on 21 December 2012, by Summit Entertainment. It was released in the United Kingdom on 1 January 2013. The film was made available by Summit Entertainment through a website streaming the movie to members of SAG-AFTRA for consideration of the SAG awards.

The Impossible was released on DVD/Blu-ray in the US and Canada on Tuesday, 23 April 2013, with a European release 13 May 2013.


Critical response

Response for the film was positive, with much praise going to the performances of Watts, McGregor and newcomer Tom Holland. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a score of 81% based on reviews from 169 critics, with an average rating of 7.3/10. At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted mean rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film holds an average score of 74, based on 41 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews."

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a perfect four-star rating, praising the performances of Watts and McGregor, as well as the direction of Bayona. He would go on to call it "one of the best films of the year".

Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a very positive review, praising the performances of the two leading stars, stating that "Watts packs a huge charge of emotion as the battered, ever-weakening Maria whose tears of pain and fear never appear fake or idealized. McGregor, cut and streaked with excessive blood he seems too distraught to wash away, keeps the tension razor-sharp as he pursues his family in a vast, shattered landscape." About the film itself she added, "The Impossible is one of the most emotionally realistic disaster movies in recent memory -- and certainly one of the most frightening in its epic re-creation of the catastrophic 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami."

Justin Chang of Variety magazine also gave the film a positive review, praising Bayona's directing and Sánchez's writing: "Collaborating again after their impressive 2007 debut feature, The Orphanage, Bayona and Sanchez get many things right here, starting with their decision to eschew a more panoramic view of the disaster to follow one family's journey from start to finish." About the performances of the main cast members he added, "Watts has few equals at conveying physical and emotional extremes, something she again demonstrates in a mostly bedridden role, and McGregor, in one of his better recent performances, manages to turn a simple phone call home into a small aria of heartbreak. Holland, in his live-action bigscreen debut, is wonderful as a kind, somewhat short-tempered kid who still has plenty to learn, setting the tone for similarly heartrending turns by young Joslin and Pendergast."

Damon Wise of The Guardian gave the film four stars out of five. He also praised the performances, stating that "as Maria, Watts is both brave and vulnerable, and her scenes with the young Lucas (the excellent Tom Holland) are among the film's best, with adult and child now unexpected equals, the mother humbled, the son rising to the challenge. McGregor, meanwhile, gives one of his best performances as the sad and desperate Henry, trying to play the hero, the provider, while knowing his cause is almost certainly lost." About the film, he added: "Part of the appeal of this affecting and powerful drama is that it puts the viewer right in the moment at every stage, using authentic locations and tsunami survivors to hammer home the reality of this tragedy."

Eric Kohn of IndieWire gave the film a "B-" grade and stated that the film "suffers from the greater problem of emphasizing a feel-good plot within the context of mass destruction."

Criticism of the film, however, has also focused on the concept of whitewashing, a term that now has also come to refer to the entertainment industry's attempt at making ethnic characters more appealing to the white, money-spending masses by making ethnic characters less exotic and more "white". The movie focuses on a white family on vacation who get separated for a little while during the tsunami but eventually get to return to their intact homes in the west. Thais, however, are hardly present in the film, except when they offer a helping hand to the white family. Though the tsunami killed over 200,000 and severely affected the lives of roughly 2 million people in multiple Asian nations, the movie has been criticized for its focus on the white experience while entirely marginalizing Asians and minimizing the reality that Asians continued (and continue) to live with the damage brought by the tsunami to their homes and livelihoods.

Response from victims

Simon Jenkins, a British survivor from Portsmouth wrote to The Guardian, stating the film is "beautifully accurate". This was in response to critics commenting that the movie is "overdramatic" and "whitewashed". He says of the comments, "As I must, I've never been the sort of person to revisit and analyze events of the past, but some of these articles frustrated me. Had this film been purely about the tale of a western middle-class family's 'ruined' holiday then I would have agreed. For me, it was the exact opposite. Rather than concentrating on the 'privileged white visitors', the film portrayed the profound sense of community and unity that I experienced in Thailand, with this family at the centre of it. Both for my (then) 16-year-old self and the Belón family, it was the Thai people who waded through the settled water after the first wave had struck to help individuals and families... The Thai people had just lost everything " homes, businesses, families " yet their instinct was to help the tourists."

Support UK, a support group for survivors of the tsunami, lobbied to have the trailer screened with a warning notice beforehand. A spokesman for Odeon Cinemas stated that it had no control over the content of the BBFC-approved trailer, saying, "We can only apologise for any offence caused on this occasion."

Box office performance

The Impossible enjoyed global success at the box office. The film grossed over $172 Million worldwide ($55,267,353 in Spain). In Spain the film was released on 11 October 2012, and opened in 638 theaters, grossing $11,569,306 on its opening weekend, ranking #1 with a per theater average of $18,134. That is the highest-grossing opening weekend ever for a film in Spain. On its second weekend the film remained at #1 and grossed $9,016,065 with a per theater average of $14,022. On its third weekend it remained at #1 and made $5,768,184 with a per theater average of $9,098.


Award Category Recipient(s) Outcome
Academy Awards Best Actress Naomi Watts
AACTA Awards Best International Actress Naomi Watts
Art Directors Guild Best Excellence in Production Design for a Contemporary Film Eugenio Caballero
Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Naomi Watts
Best Young Actor Tom Holland
Capri Awards Capri Director Award Juan Antonio Bayona
Capri European Director Award Juan Antonio Bayona
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Naomi Watts
Most Promising Performer Tom Holland
Cinema Writers Circle Awards Best Picture The Impossible
Best Actress Naomi Watts
Best New Actor Tom Holland
Best Director Juan Antonio Bayona
Best Original Screenplay Sergio G. Sánchez
Best Cinematography "scar Faura
Best Editing Bernat Vilaplana, Elena Ruiz
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards Best Actress Naomi Watts
Central Ohio Film Critics Association AwardsRunner-Up Best Actress Naomi Watts
Detroit Film Critics Society Best Film The Impossible
Best Director Juan Antonio Bayona
Best Actress Naomi Watts
Best Supporting Actor Ewan McGregor
Empire Awards Empire Award for Best Newcomer Tom Holland
Empire Award for Best Actress Naomi Watts
Gaudí Awards Best Director Juan Antonio Bayona
Best Editing Elena Ruiz and Bernart Vilaplana
Best Cinematography "scar Faura
Best Sound Oriol Tarragó and Marc Orts
Best Hair/Make-up David Martí and Montse Ribé
Best European Film The Impossible
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress - Motion Picture Drama Naomi Watts
Goya Awards Best Film The Impossible
Best Director Juan Antonio Bayona
Best Actress Naomi Watts
Best Supporting Actor Ewan McGregor
Best New Actor Tom Holland
Best Original Screenplay Sergio G. Sánchez and María Belón
Best Cinematography "scar Faura
Best Editing Elena Ruiz and Bernat Villaplana
Best Art Direction Eugenio Caballero
Best Production Supervision Sandra Hermida Muńiz
Best Sound Peter Glossop, Marc Orts and Oriol Tarragó
Best Special Effects Pau Costa and Félix Bergés
Best Makeup and Hairstyles Alessandro Bertolazzi, David Martí and Montse Ribé
Best Original Score Fernando Velázquez
Hollywood Film Festival Spotlight Award Tom Holland
Houston Film Critics Society Best Actress Naomi Watts
Las Vegas Film Critics Society Sierra Award for Best Picture The Impossible
London Film Critics Circle Awards Young British Performer of the Year Tom Holland
National Board of Review USA Best Breakthrough Actor Tom Holland
Palm Springs International Film Festival Desert Palm Achievement Award Naomi Watts
Phoenix Film Critics Society Best Youth Performance in a Lead or Supporting Role - Male Tom Holland
San Diego Film Critics Society Awards Best Actress Naomi Watts
Sant Jordi Awards Best Spanish Film The Impossible
Saturn Awards Best Horror or Thriller Film The Impossible
Best Actress Naomi Watts
Best Young Actor Tom Holland
Best Make-up David Martin, Montse Ribé and Vasit Suchitta
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role Naomi Watts
[[./2013_Teen_Choice_Awards|Teen Choice Awards]] Choice Movie Drama The Impossible
Choice Movie Actress Drama Naomi Watts
Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture Pau Costa, Sandra Hermida, Félix Bergés
Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture: The Orchid Hotel
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Youth Performance Tom Holland
Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actor Tom Holland
Best Performance in a Feature Film - Supporting Young Actor Samuel Joslin
Best Performance in a Feature Film - Supporting Young Actor Ten and Under Oakley Pendergast

See also

  • Survival film, about the film genre, with a list of related films

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "The_Impossible_%282012_film%29" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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