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The Impossible

Character: Lucas

Directed by: J. A. Bayona

Written by: Sergio G. Sánchez

Produced by: Álvaro Augustin, Belen Atienza, Enrique López Lavigne

Cast Members: Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor

Released date: 9 September 2012 (TIFF)

Genre: Thriller

Duration: 1h 54min

The story of a tourist family in Thailand caught in the destruction and chaotic aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.



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Maria Bennett, her husband Henry Bennett, and their three sons Lucas, Thomas, and Simon go on a Christmas holiday in 2004 to Khao Lak, Thailand. Arriving on Christmas Eve, they settle in and begin to enjoy the brand new Orchid Beach Resort. Two days later on Boxing Day, the massive 2004 tsunami inundates the area.

Maria and Lucas eventually emerge from the swirling water and find one another, with Maria having sustained serious injuries to her leg and chest. They help a toddler, Daniel, from the wreckage and are soon found by locals who transfer them to a local hospital in the city of Takua Pa. Daniel is separated from them during the journey. At the hospital, Maria encourages Lucas to help others find their family members while she goes into surgery for her chest injuries.

Meanwhile, Henry, Thomas, and Simon have also survived and are together. Henry leaves the two boys with another family who is taken to the mountains for safe shelter by local relief crews while he stays behind to search for Maria and Lucas. While out looking, injured, and alone, he is picked up by a passer-by and driven to a nearby bus shelter to wait out with other survivors. Communication facilities are scarce, but eventually, a tourist named Karl, who has also been separated from his family, lends Henry his cell phone to contact his relatives. Henry promises Maria’s father he will look everywhere for his family and that he will find them. Karl tells the group his wife had left him a note confirming they were at the beach, their location when the wave hit. He volunteers to accompany Henry to look for Maria and Lucas and his own family, too.

While Maria is in surgery, her medical chart is mixed-up with another patient who has died. Lucas returns to find his mother’s bed empty and is then taken to a tent where children without families are kept safe. The mistake is discovered when Lucas cannot identify any of the dead woman’s jewelry and he is subsequently reunited with his mother, who has been moved to a private room in the ICU. In the hospital, while he waits, Lucas finds Daniel, who has been reunited with his father.

Henry and Karl search for their families in various places before they arrive at the hospital, where Henry is given five minutes to look. Karl gives him a piece of paper with his family members’ names on. The vehicle carrying Thomas and Simon also stops outside the hospital, and the boys get off so Simon can urinate. From a distance, Lucas recognizes his father, and while searching him out in the chaotic crowd outside, Lucas’ brothers spot him and they reunite. Henry finds the three of them together. He learns that Maria is in the hospital, ready to undergo more surgery for her leg, which she survives. Flashbacks reveal how she came to be badly injured and how she surfaced the water. While in surgery, Lucas tells his father he has something really important to tell Maria.

The following day, the family boards an ambulance airplane to Singapore so Maria may receive further medical treatment, arranged by their insurance company. On the plane, Lucas tells his mother he knows Daniel is safe. Maria cries as she looks out the window at the chaos left behind.


Budget: $45,000,000 (estimated)
Opening Weekend USA: $143,818, 23 December 2012
Gross USA: $19,019,882
Cumulative Worldwide Gross: $198,087,212


Production for the film started on June 7, 2010, and finished on May 26, 2012. Filming took place in both Spain and Thailand, principal photography beginning on August 23, 2010, in Alacant, Spain, and continued in October of the same year until December in Thailand.

Critical Response:

The critic’s consensus from Rotten Tomatoes says that the film is “The screenplay isn’t quite as powerful as the direction or the acting, but with such an astonishing real-life story at its center, The Impossible is never less than compelling.81% of 199 critics rated it positively, that being 161 rating it fresh and only 38 rotten; the average rating is 7.26/10. For the audience score, out of almost 50.000 ratings, it has 84% out of 100%, giving it 4.01/5 stars.

On Metacritic, based on 42 critics, it has 73% out of 100%, 33 critics calling it positive, 7 are mixed, and only 2 negatives. And the user score, based on 354 ratings, gave it a 7.8/10, with 298 users calling it positive, 37 mixed, and 19 negatives.


    • The scene where the tsunami hits the resort could only be filmed once. It would have cost too much money to rebuild the set.
    • According to Naomi Watts, the producers of the film heard an interview on Spanish radio where the family told their story of surviving the Tsunami and decided to make a film based on it.
    • The crew filmed partially on location at the actual resort, since rebuilt, where the Belon family was vacationing when the tsunami hit. For the tsunami destruction scenes, a scaled model of the resort was used.
    • It took a year to put together the ten-minute sequence, a recreation of the moment the wave came crashing down on the luxury hotel in Khao Lak.
    • The real family that the main characters are based on are in fact Spanish but living in Japan at the time of the Tsunami.
    • The real color of the Ball was Yellow, not Red, as shown in the film. Maria Belón said it was the “biggest lie” in the movie.
    • The film takes place from December 24 to December 27, 2004.
    • The movie was one of the latest produced at the so-called “Ciudad de la Luz” studios (City of Light studios), in Spain. In October 2012, this complex announced its immediate closure due to the small number of productions that took place in the studios.
    • The family on which this story is based was present during the whole shooting process. They were giving tips, especially Maria Belon who is portrayed by Naomi Watts.
    • The whole family also attended the film’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in 2012.
    • The film opens with the sound of a jet because that’s how Maria Belón described the sound of the Tsunami.


Old Woman: Some of those stars have been burnt out for a long, long time. They’re dead, but once they were so bright that their light is still travelling through space. We can still see them.
Lucas Bennett: How can you tell which one is dead and which one is not?
Old Woman: No, you can’t, it’s impossible. It’s a beautiful mystery, isn’t it?

Maria Bennett: You’re so bossy.
Lucas Bennett: I wonder who I take after.

Lucas Bennett: I thought I was a brave kid, Mum… I’m scared!
Maria Bennett: Shhh…I’m scared, too…
Lucas Bennett: Is it over…? Is it over…?
Maria Bennett: I don’t know…! I don’t know…!


Year Award Category Results
 2012 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Most Promising Performer  Nominated
 2012 Hollywood Film Awards Spotlight Award  Won
 2012 National Board of Review Best Youth Performance  Won
 2012 Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards Best Youth Performance in a Lead or Supporting Role – Male  Won
 2012 St. Louis Film Critics Association Special Merit (for best scene, cinematic technique or other memorable aspect or moment)  Won
 2012 Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards Best Youth Performance  Nominated
 2013 Young Artist Awards Best Performance in a Feature Film – Leading Young Actor  Won
 2013 Online Film & Television Association Best Youth Performance  Won
 2013 Online Film & Television Association Best Breakthrough Performance: Male  Nominated
 2013 London Critics Circle Film Awards Young British Performer of the Year  Won
 2013 Goya Awards Best New Actor  Nominated
 2013 Gold Derby Awards Breakthrough Performer  Nominated
 2013 Empire Awards Best Male Newcomer  Won
 2013 Cinema Writers Circle Awards Best New Actor  Nominated
 2013 Central Ohio Film Critics Association Most Promising Performer  Nominated
 2013 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards Best Young Actor/Actress  Nominated
 2013 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Best Performance by a Younger Actor  Nominated
 2014 CinEuphoria Awards Best Actor – International Competition  Nominated


Year  Award  Category  Results 
 2012 Detroit Film Critics Society Awards Best Film  Nominated
 2012 Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards Best Picture  Nominated
 2013 Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Feature Motion Picture  Won
 2013 Visual Effects Society Awards Outstanding Models in a Feature Motion Picture  Nominated
 2013 Terenci Moix International Award Best Film  Won
 2013 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Drama  Nominated
 2013 Sant Jordi Awards Best Spanish Film  Won
 2013 Online Film & Television Association Best Makeup and Hairstyling  Nominated
 2013 Online Film & Television Association Best Visual Effects  Nominated
 2013 Online Film & Television Association Most Cinematic Moment  Nominated
 2013 José María Forqué Awards Best Picture  Nominated
 2013 International Film Music Critics Award Film Music Composition of the Year  Won
 2013 International Film Music Critics Award Film Score of the Year  Nominated
 2013 International Film Music Critics Award Best Original Score for a Drama Film  Nominated
 2013 Guild of Music Supervisors Awards Best Music Supervision for Trailers  Nominated
 2013 Goya Best Sound  Won
 2013 Goya Best Special Effects  Won
 2013 Goya Best Director  Won
 2013 Goya Best Editing  Won
 2013 Goya Best Production Manager  Won
 2013 Goya Best Original Score  Nominated
 2013 Goya Best Cinematography  Nominated
 2013 Goya Best Makeup and Hairstyles  Nominated
 2013 Goya Best Film  Nominated
 2013 Goya Best Production Design  Nominated
 2013 Goya Best Original Screenplay  Nominated
 2013 Gaudí Awards Best Director  Won
 2013 Gaudí Awards Best Make-Up and Hairstyles  Won
 2013 Gaudí Awards Best Sound  Won
 2013 Gaudí Awards Best Cinematography  Won
 2013 Gaudí Awards Best Film Editing  Won
 2013 Gaudí Awards Best European Film  Won
 2013 Cinema Writers Circle Awards Best Film  Nominated
 2013 Cinema Writers Circle Awards Best Director  Nominated
 2013 Cinema Writers Circle Awards Best Cinematography  Nominated
 2013 Cinema Writers Circle Awards Best Editing  Nominated
 2013 Cinema Writers Circle Awards Best Original Screenplay  Nominated
 2013 ASECAN Best Spanish Film  Nominated
 2013 Art Directors Guild Contemporary Film  Nominated
 2013 Saturn Award Best Horror/Thriller Film  Nominated
 2013 Saturn Award Best Make-Up  Nominated
 2014 CinEuphoria Awards Best Special Effects (Sound or Visual) – International Competition Won
 2014 CinEuphoria Awards Best Editing – International Competition Nominated
 2014 CinEuphoria Awards Best Trailer – International Competition Nominated
 2014 CinEuphoria Awards Best Original Music – International Competition Nominated
 2014 CinEuphoria Awards Best Director – International Competition Nominated
 2014 CinEuphoria Awards Best Film – International Competition Nominated


Script developed by Never Enough Design