Based on a true, true story

This week we’ve been reflecting on the movie The Impossible. It is based on a true true story. I use the word twice because often we hear the claim “based on a true story” and lots of liberties are taken with the story in the final depiction. But this movie is very true to the actual events.

The Belan Family’s incredible story of survival during the 2004 tsunami in Thailand is powerfully recreated in the 2012 movie The Impossible. There are at least two meanings behind that title, both of which reflect realities in our lives.

First, who would have imagined getting hit by a tsunami? As the family planned and packed for vacation, surely this possibility never crossed their minds. On the plane, Henry the father asks Maria his wife several times if the alarm has been set back home. This was his last worry, released before he relaxed into vacation. Experience tells us that we can prepare for some emergencies, like getting your house broken into, but a tsunami? We might ponder it a moment and dismiss it as “impossible!”

Secondly, all 5 family members survived and are reunited. This happened during a catastrophe where one-quarter of a million people perished, and over $450 million dollars in property damage occurred. The skeptic within says “that’s impossible!”

Through the camera’s lens, we share in the dramatic coincidences which bring the family back together, often crossing paths with mere seconds of an opening to hear or see each other. “Amazing,” you might say, even “impossible.”

I’d venture to say that our lives are filled with these “impossible” moments—challenges of loss and sorrow, gifts of reconciliation and connection. Perhaps watching this beautifully-crafted movie provides a first step in reflecting on our own lives and the impossible moments we’ve experienced. What has happened in your life that seemed so huge it would never be survived? How did you make it through? Who were the people who helped you make it? And who made the effort worthwhile?

After you watch the movie, please let me know if you find other meanings hidden in the title!

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