"Beowulf" is an epic poem written in Old English by an unknown Anglo Saxon poet. It is found in the Nowell Codex, which is part of a volume of old manuscripts dating to around A.D. 1000. We're lucky to have it, because in 1731 a fire broke out in the library it was in, causing some damage to the volume. The Codex was translated for the first time around 1800, and since then numerous translations have been done, including one by J.R.R. Tolkien (more on that later). There is some argument among scholars as to whether the author came up with the Beowulf story himself, or was putting on paper epic tales which had previously been told orally. This certainly seems possible, as the adventures take place in Scandinavia, rather than in England, where the author was writing. From various barrows and other ancient ruins which have been excavated, it also appears that many of the characters in "Beowulf" were historical figures- King Hygelac, for example. And the Geats, Beowulf's people, were an actual tribe living in what is now part of Sweden.
"Beowulf" was written sometime between about 800 and 1000 A.D. as previously mentioned, and it's clear from the poem that Christianity had by this time taken hold in England, but that remnants of the people's old pagan beliefs and culture still remained. "Beowulf" contains a mash-up of the two, as though previous tales of monsters and battles were repackaged with a bit of Christianity thrown in. For example, Grendel is described as being descended from Cain. I'm not sure how that's supposed to work, since Cain was a human, unless this is supposed to be the mark of Cain... but I suppose it doesn't really matter. It just underlines the fact in the narrative that, not only is Grendel evil, but he comes from bad stock- a long line of murderers.
I had previously studied an excerpt from "Beowulf" in a course on English literature, but until recently hadn't read it in its entirety. And I really enjoyed it. The narrative is a straight-up adventure tale: Beowulf fights Grendel and kills him, there's a big party... Beowulf fights Grendel's mother and kills her, there's a big party... Beowulf fights a dragon and kills it, but gets killed himself, and there's a big funeral. There's nothing really subtle here, which also makes me lean towards the oral tradition side of things; while reading, I kept picturing the tale being told around a fire at night. It seems perfectly designed for that. Though the translation I read was good, the style is, of course, very old, but I didn't find it hard to understand. What I did find a bit difficult was keeping track of all the characters- there are a lot of them. This is especially true when the story is occasionally interrupted to reference and explain an event from the past involving a completely different cast of characters. No doubt these names would have meant something to the original readers- or hearers- but my knowledge of Scandinavian history and legend is virtually nil. Fortunately, the book included a list of characters and their relationships which I could flip to whenever I lost track of who was who.
As I mentioned earlier, J.R.R. Tolkien did his own translation of "Beowulf". Reading the epic poem, it becomes clear just how much "Beowulf" influenced Tolkien's tales of Middle Earth. For example, the Rohirrim of Rohan, with their king and his great hall, are very similar in description to King Hrothgar and Heorot Hall in "Beowulf". As well, their speech patterns are much alike. Also, a creepy creature that inhabits a watery cave...hmm. Then there's the dragon: enraged by a thief stealing from him and flying out to burn the local villages- it all sounds vaguely familiar. To top it off, there's this exclamation from Grendel when fighting Beowulf: "Nowhere on middle-earth, I realize, have I encountered a grip like his." When you think about it, this makes perfect sense; Tolkien wanted to write a mythology for England, and he naturally built it on the foundation of legends of the past.
This has been a pretty quick overview of "Beowulf"... there's certainly a lot more to be said about it, both as a legend and as a foundational work of English literature. In any case, whether you read it with an eye out for it's influences on historical fiction, or just as a straightforward adventure story, I do recommend reading it. It's an enjoyable read, and also provides a sense of connection to the people of that time period. The story of "Beowulf" makes it obvious that they liked rollicking tales of adventure, terrible monsters, and heroism just as much as we do today. The mediums may change, but our love of good storytelling remains the same.
Beowulf is an epic poem written in Old English, and is one of the earliest tales of Old English literature. The author is unknown, but was writing sometime between the 8th and 10th century. The poem starts out by acquainting us with the dire predicament in which Hrothgar, the king of the Danes, finds himself. His great hall, Heorot, has been terrorized by a monster named Grendel for a number of years. This creature makes frequent night attacks on the Hall, killing many of Hrothgar's men and- eww- eating them. Hrothgar was once a mighty warrior, but is elderly now, and seems helpless to do anything to put a stop to Grendel's snacking habits.
Fortunately for him, help is on the way. A boatload of warriors arrives from Geatland. They are led by Beowulf, a mighty warrior who has heard of the trouble which Hrothgar is in and come to help. He does this because apparently Hrothgar had aided his father years before, and also because- it seems- he enjoys pitting himself against strong adversaries. Hrothgar greets Beowulf and his men happily, and with some relief, though at least one of his own men- Unferth- seems skeptical of Beowulf's abilities. But this is mostly chalked up to jealousy, because he himself has been able to do nothing to stop the monster. Hrothgar holds a feast to honour the arrival of the Geatmen, after which they all retire for the night to sleep- or, perhaps more accurately, sleep it off.
Then, while everyone is sleeping, Grendel turns up and kills another warrior. However, Beowulf leaps up from his bed and attacks the monster. They engage in an epic battle of hand-to-hand combat until Beowulf eventually prevails, ripping one of Grendel's arms off at the shoulder. Realizing that the battle is lost, Grendel flees out into the wilderness where he dies from his injuries. Triumphant, Beowulf hangs Grendel's gory arm from the rafters in the hall, which suggests to me that he's a better warrior than interior decorator, but that's really beside the point. Everyone is naturally ecstatic that the monster has been vanquished, and there is a big feast, at which Hrothgar gratefully showers Beowulf with gifts.
All the celebrating turns out to be a bit premature, however, as Grendel's mother shows up that night seeking revenge for her son's death. She attacks the Hall, but is forced to flee when Beowulf and his warriors awaken and offer resistance. She returns to her lair in a cave at the bottom of a lake. Beowulf, accompanied by his warriors and some of Hrothgar's men, tracks the hag to the lake. Beowulf dives in and swims down to the cave where he fights Grendel's mum. He grabs a sword from her stash and kills her with it, even though her poisonous blood dissolves the blade of the sword. Carrying the beast's severed head, Beowulf swims back up to the surface. Hrothgar's men are surprised to see him, having supposed him dead, but his own warriors who know him better, assumed he would return victorious. Beowulf takes back the head to Heorot Hall to hang next to Grendel's arm... pretty sure we're not going to see that home decor tip on pinterest.
Now that both Grendel and his mum have been killed, the celebrations are reinstated, with more feasting and gift giving, especially from Hrothgar, who is very much in Beowulf's debt for the service he has done for the Danes. He gives Beowulf all sorts of riches, as well as a number of horses... I'm not sure how they loaded all of that onto the boat, but apparently they managed. When the party winds down, Beowulf and his men make their farewells and sail back to Geatland, where Beowulf goes to the court of his king, Hygelac. He entertains the king with tales of his adventures, and generously spreads around the wealth given to him by Hrothgar.
Over time, King Hygelac and his relations are all killed in battle, and Beowulf becomes King of the Geats. He reigns for fifty years, keeping his people safe from invasions by the Swedes, etc. He is a brave and well-loved king- and generous, sharing the accumulated spoils of war among his loyal warriors. One day, a thief sneaks into the lair of a dragon and steals a goblet. The enraged dragon storms forth, attacking the villagers, burning their homes, and generally killing everyone he comes across. Of course, Beowulf isn't about to let this go on, so he heads out to face the dragon, accompanied by eleven of his warriors and the thief, who is to show them the way to the dragon's lair. At the sight of the monstrous dragon, the warriors all run away in terror, leaving Beowulf to face him alone. Only one of them, Wiglaf, conquers his fear and returns to help. He finds his king engaged in a fierce battle with the creature, and leaps to his aid. Together, they manage to vanquish the dragon; Beowulf finishes it off, but he himself is fatally wounded. As Beowulf dies, he has Wiglaf pile up some of the dragon's wealth so he can see it while he expires. Each to their own.
After he dies, the Geats mourn their king, building a great funeral pyre for him. After this burns out, they build a huge barrow which can be seen from the sea to honour him, filling it with treasure. And that is the end of Beowulf.
Last Saturday morning, I checked facebook and was surprised to find my page inundated with pictures of Jonathan Crombie, a.k.a. Gilbert Blythe in the Anne of Green Gables miniseries. Sadly, he had suffered a brain hemorrhage and passed away on April 15th at the age of 48. I've always loved the character of Gilbert Blythe in the Anne books- he's intelligent, self-sacrificing, faithful... and has a sense of humour. So often when books are made into movies, the characters on film don't live up to the ones you've pictured in your head. But Crombie was an excellent Gilbert in Anne of Green Gables and in the Sequel. We won't talk about The Continuing Story- that was a travesty, but not his fault (I'm looking at you, Kevin Sullivan). It was also delightful to see him make an appearance in an episode of Road To Avonlea: the one in which we had to say good-bye to another beloved character- Marilla Cuthbert, played by the late Colleen Dewhurst.
Of course, Jonathan Crombie's career didn't begin or end with the Green Gables miniseries. He did quite a bit of television work, as well as theater. But Gilbert Blythe will always be the role he is best known and loved for, and rightly so. The two miniseries are excellent, and he is excellent in them. I've always appreciated the fact that these films fit into that rarest of TV categories: family entertainment. They can be watched and enjoyed by all age groups, and are a great option for a family movie night. They were a frequent choice in our house growing up, and now a favorite for many of my nieces and nephews. Jonathan Crombie may be gone, but he has left behind an enduring character in a beloved set of films which will continue to give enjoyment for many a year to come.
P.D. James' "Death Comes To Pemberley" takes us back to the world of Elizabeth and Darcy six years after the events of "Pride and Prejudice". James writes in a style which fits well with the time period, and she is careful not to make any of the characters act in a manner inconsistent from that in P&P. Of course, as six years have passed, some of the characters have changed a bit- for example, Georgiana is less shy and more self-assured, and Lady Catherine, while still an imposing presence, has thawed somewhat towards Elizabeth.
Col. Fitzwilliam's character has perhaps changed the most... he has become sterner, almost stodgy. This is explained by the fact that his older brother has died and he has inherited the title, with all the responsibilities that entails. To a lesser extent, Elizabeth is changed; she seems a bit less high-spirited. Of course, she is now a wife and mother, and chatelaine of a large estate. Also, she is embroiled in a murder mystery in which members of her family are directly involved, which is enough to dampen anyone's spirits. I was fine with that... if I had one criticism, it would be that Elizabeth and Darcy aren't together enough in the novel. One of the pleasures of P&P was the verbal interactions between the two of them. In D.C.T.P., however, Darcy and Elizabeth spend a lot of time apart, as he deals with the murder investigation and she handles the family and social problems that crop up. No doubt this is a more realistic depiction of how things would go, but it would have been nice to have them together a bit more often.
What is nice is that we get inside Darcy's head, and get to know his thoughts- both about what's happening in the present, but also about some of the events of the past. For example, the reason he tried so hard to keep Bingley and Jane apart was because he was afraid that, if they became attached, it would weaken his resolve not to give way to his feelings for Elizabeth. James' writing of Darcy's character is particularly well done, just how you'd expect him to be after six years with Elizabeth to smooth his harsher edges. We also get to know Georgiana a lot better, though the love triangle involving her and her two suitors really doesn't amount to much. Her best scene is the one in which, conversing with Elizabeth, she relates Wickham's attempted seduction of her fifteen year old self from her point of view. It makes her a more relatable and sympathetic character.
Surprisingly, considering what a great mystery writer James was, I found the mystery in "Death Comes To Pemberley" to be the weakest part of the book. That's not to say it's bad, but I had it figured out- well, not all the details, but the essentials- pretty early on in the narrative. It is interesting to see them work to solve the crime with the evidence they have, without the benefit of modern forensics, and also to have a look at the court system of the time period.
Of course, their English society being what it is, there are social consequences to the murder as well as legal ones. As gossip runs rampant, they are all affected by the embarrassment of being connected to such a scandal. Mr Darcy, with his reserved nature, especially detests the situation in which they find themselves. This is compounded by the fear that, in the course of the investigation, the facts of what occurred with Georgiana and Wickham might somehow become known, damaging her reputation. Then too, he is conflicted about the criminal investigation... although he detests Wickham with every fiber of his being, he believes him to be innocent and finds himself in the uncomfortable position of feeling obliged to defend him.
The best thing about "Death Comes To Pemberley" is that we are able to become reacquainted with so many great characters... not only the ones directly involved, but also Mr and Mrs Bennett, Kitty and Mary, Charlotte and Mr Collins (who must, of course, put in his two cents about the scandal), etc. As well, mention is made of several characters from other Austen works... for example, it turns out that Wickham was employed for a short time by Mr Elliot (Persuasion) and, near the end of the book, Harriet Martin- nee Smith- (Emma) is given an opportunity to be of assistance. It's all very enjoyable. So, while D.C.T.P. isn't a perfect novel, and I didn't really find the murder mystery all that mysterious, I still enjoyed the book quite a bit. It was rather like visiting old friends whom you haven't seen in a while and catching up on their lives. P.D. James is always a compelling writer, and she is respectful of the source material, never straying far from Austen's interpretations of her characters'personae. All in all, this was a fun read, and I would definitely recommend it to fans of "Pride and Prejudice".
In 2011, P.D. James' novel "Death Comes To Pemberley" was published. It is a mystery which is set in Jane Austen's world, and it is populated by her characters- specifically, those from "Pride and Prejudice". I'd been rather torn about reading James' novel... I don't generally read pastiche, especially when it's based on favourite books and characters. "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies"? No. Just no. On the other hand, if anyone could write an intelligent P & P style book a la Austen, it would be P. D. James. She is- or rather, was (she died in 2014, aged 94) -a skilled writer and a sharp-witted, feisty woman. If you have a few minutes to spare, you should really check out her 2008 radio interview with the Director General of the BBC. Well into her eighties, James takes him to task for the wastrel ways of the public broadcaster. Armed with facts and in her brisk, forthright manner, she refutes his every excuse with ease, leaving the Director General floundering. It's a masterful performance, and one could almost imagine her as an Austenian Dowager, gleefully squelching the pretensions of a hapless upstart. Despite my admiration for her, though, I was still hesitant about picking up "Death Comes To Pemberley". I frequently don't like sequels, even when they're written by the same author, so what were the odds of my enjoying this one written by someone else almost 200 years after the original? Just after Easter, however, I found a copy in a used book store and decided to throw caution to the wind. After all, I reasoned, even if I hated it, I wouldn't have wasted much money on it. Fortunately, I didn't hate it.
The novel is set six years after the end of "Pride and Prejudice". Darcy and Elizabeth are happily married and the parents of two boys, Fitzwilliam and Charles. Bingley and Jane live nearby, and Georgiana and Elizabeth have become close friends as well as sisters-in-law. The only worry Elizabeth presently has is that Col. Fitzwilliam has become determined to marry Georgiana. Elizabeth suspects, however, that her sweet sister-in-law has a fondness for Henry Alveston, an up-and-coming young lawyer.
It is the eve of the annual Pemberley ball and Jane and Bingley have arrived to stay, leaving their own brood of youngsters at home. Col. Fitzwilliam is also in residence, and Henry Alveston is there for dinner. After the meal, there are a few uncomfortable moments when Georgiana and Henry entertain the company by singing a duet, while Col. Fitzwilliam looks on, glowering. Soon after this, Fitzwilliam abruptly announces that he's going out riding for a while, and does so. The rest of the party is about to break up for the evening when there is a sudden commotion outside. A carriage is careening up the Pemberley drive at a dangerous rate of speed, and a woman inside it is screaming. It's Lydia, and she's shrieking that Wickham has been murdered. Turns out that the two of them had been travelling to Pemberley to crash the ball... they were, of course, not invited. They also had good ol' Denny in tow, but on the way, he and Wickham, who had been drinking heavily, got into a violent argument. This continued until, while travelling the road through Pemberley's woods, Denny demanded that the coachman stop. He got out, saying he would have no further part in this, and headed off into the woods. The inebriated Wickham got out and followed him, yelling for him to come back and stop being a fool. Then, with the two of them somewhere in the woods, shots were fired. Lydia panicked and demanded that the coachman get her to Pemberley, which he did.
After relating this, Lydia has hysterics and must be carted off to bed, while the men- including Col. Fitzwilliam, who has just arrived back- head off into the forest to search for the two men. It's assumed that the shots were most likely from a poacher, and that Wickham and Denny are probably just stumbling about the woods, drunk and lost. This assumption is dispelled when they find a blood-covered Wickham kneeling over Denny's dead body, crying and saying that it was all his fault. Oops. They take Wickham to Pemberley where, under guard, he is put in bed to sleep it off while Mr. Darcy goes to fetch the nearest magistrate. Darcy is himself a magistrate, but with the murder taking place on his property, and the prime suspect being his brother-in-law, he must of course recuse himself from the investigation.
The rest of the novel follows the investigation and the trial of Wickham for Denny's murder. Over the course of the investigation, Darcy becomes reluctantly convinced that Wickham is not the guilty party. Though he despises the man, and knows him to be capable of deceit and dishonour, Darcy doesn't believe him the type to commit violent murder. Also, it turns out that Denny wasn't shot, but hit over the back of the head with a blunt and heavy object. Nothing of the sort was around when they found Wickham over the body. And then there's the troubling fact that Col. Fitzwilliam seems strangely reluctant to disclose where exactly he was while out riding that night...hmm. Added to the stress of the murder investigation is, of course, the social repercussions of being connected to a murder, and very likely the murderer. Darcy and Elizabeth must navigate this tricky legal and social dilemma, aided- or hindered, as the case may be- by their various friends and relations.
"The Impossible" is a disaster movie, but not your average disaster movie. Most movies of this type- at least the ones I've seen- seem to concentrate on spectacle... making the event as dramatic, eye-catching, and well, disastrous as possible. This is not to say that the tsunami scenes in "The Impossible" aren't well done and effective, but they take a backseat to the personal dramas which are unfolding. I think this was a good choice for a couple of reasons, one being that, with the actual event still fresh in peoples' minds, it would be unseemly to appear to take salacious pleasure in sensationalizing this tragedy. The other reason is that personal stories always interest me more than big special effects and spectacle for its own sake.
This film became controversial in a couple of ways. One of these is that the family portrayed as being British in the movie was actually Spanish. Some people thought it wrong to change their nationality. I personally didn't have a problem with this, mainly because the story and its message are not dependent on the family being of any particular race or background. It would have been quite a different thing if, say, the movie was about an event which was caused or affected by the race or nationality of the protagonists- slavery in America, for example, or pogroms against Jews in Russia. But that's not the case; the tsunami was no respecter of persons, and all were equally powerless before its ferocity. It is a human narrative, not a racial one. On a purely practical note, the filmmakers- who are Spanish- no doubt wanted their movie to be as widely seen and successful as possible. Like it or not, that success is more likely if the film has well-known actors in it and, yes, if it's in English. With very few exceptions, subtitled movies struggle to find a wide audience in the west.
The second point of contention is the claim that the film "whitewashes" the tragedy by focusing on this one wealthy western family, while showing little of the suffering of the local populations. It is certainly true that the overwhelming amount of devastation and death was experienced by the inhabitants of the affected countries, and while the movie doesn't ignore this, it doesn't focus on it. I would take issue with this if "The Impossible" was a documentary, or if it was intended to give a wide view of the results of the tsunami. What it has, though, is a very narrow focus: it is about the experiences of one family during this natural disaster. If I'm reading a memoir or diary of an historical person, I generally expect it to detail the experiences of that person and the events and people he or she came into contact with or was affected by rather than give a broad overview. Most of us interpret events in our lives by how they affect and change us on a personal level. Also, to return to a previous point, the filmmakers may have been deterred by a sense of delicacy... while they do show dead bodies and badly injured people, they don't dwell on these images, perhaps not wanting to capitalize on the very real human tragedy which was experienced by these populations. They certainly did not intend to trivialize the devastation caused by the tsunami.
The tsunami is, of course, the driving force behind the plot as it rampages across the landscape, tearing apart homes and lives, leaving destruction and death in its wake. Even after the monster wave recedes, the water remains the enemy, though the nature of its threat changes. The danger now lies in the filth of the water, choked with dead bodies, raw sewage, and goodness knows what else. It is impossible not to think about this as Naomi Watts' character, Maria, drags her injured leg with its gaping wound through the murky swamp.
Speaking of Naomi Watts, she is particularly good in the role of Maria Bennett, portraying both her terrible suffering due to her injuries, and her strength of mind and spirit. A lot of the movie focuses on her and Lucas as they struggle to survive, first in the tsunami, and later at the hospital. Over the course of the movie, we also see a role reversal with Lucas and Maria. Directly following the disaster, it is Maria who upholds and comforts Lucas. As she weakens from her injuries, however, she must lean more and more on her son, and he, of necessity, must become more responsible and strong for her.
Lucas is impressively played by Tom Holland, who at the the start of the film is a nice but typically self-absorbed twelve year old. Due to circumstances, and the example of his mother, Lucas finds it in him to give of himself not only to her, but to others around him who need help.
Ewan McGregor, as Henry, has less screen time but makes the most of it, giving a convincing performance as a father torn between staying with his two youngest sons, or searching for the missing members of his family. His most memorable scene is the one where he breaks down while on the 'phone trying to explain what has happened. It's truly wrenching.
I'm not sure how closely the movie sticks to the actual experiences of Maria Belon and her family... I couldn't find too much about it online. I'm pretty sure, however, that all of the family didn't turn up at the hospital at the same time as the film portrays- that seems like too much of a coincidence. Still, that scene- manipulative as it may be- is very moving, especially when the two younger brothers- Thomas and Simon- hear Lucas' voice and frantically run towards the sound, shouting his name.
There are several messages which can be taken away from "The Impossible", one of these being the fragility of life. During the opening scenes of the movie, the Bennetts are doing normal family things: the kids are squabbling, Henry is worried about his job... that sort of thing. Then, at the resort, they and the other guests frolic on the beaches, celebrate Christmas, enjoy their lives- and then it's all over. Just like that. The thing is, it's not necessary to be caught in a natural disaster in some exotic location to experience sudden loss of life. That can happen any day at any time, doing something as mundane as crossing the street. Which is one reason we should never take our lives- or the people we love- for granted.
Another truth to be found in "The Impossible" is the importance of reaching out to others in times of great suffering and calamity. This is demonstrated in many ways throughout the film: Maria, determined to rescue Daniel, despite the personal toll it takes on her, or the villagers, having lost practically everything, giving of what little they have left to help Lucas and Maria. There is Karl who, despite his own loss, generously offers Henry some of the few precious minutes he has left on his phone, and Lucas, impulsively embracing the boy who, despite language barriers, he has helped reunite with his father... the joy of that moment offering a brief respite from their grim reality. And it is demonstrated by Maria- weak and in pain, and with most of her family missing- simply reaching out her hand to offer comfort to another woman in similar circumstances.
After watching the film, I found myself wondering exactly what was meant by the title, "The Impossible". I tried searching online for the explanation behind it, but was unsuccessful. I suppose it might refer to the seemingly impossible odds of the entire Bennett family surviving the tsunami. I wonder, though, if the writer(s) might have been thinking of the words of Francis of Assisi: "Start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."
At the start of the film, we meet the Bennetts: Henry (Ewan McGregor), Maria (Naomi Watts) and their three young sons, Lucas, Thomas, and Simon. They are travelling by plane to Thailand for Christmas, from their home in Singapore, where Henry works. Maria is a doctor, but isn't practicing at this time, as she's raising their three boys. This scene shows them to be a normal family... Henry is trying to remember if he set the security alarm at their house when they left... Maria is nervous about air turbulence... Lucas is peevish about his younger brothers bothering him. Once they arrive at their resort in Thailand, however, they're all enjoying themselves in the beautiful setting- their luxurious accommodations, the beaches, etc.- and have a happy Christmas together. And then Boxing Day happens.
On Boxing Day in 2004, a 9.1 magnitude earthquake occurred in the Indian Ocean, which resulted in a huge tsunami which hit Indonesia, Thailand, India, and other surrounding countries. The death toll was a staggering 230,000 people, with many more left injured, devastated, and destitute. Of course, the inhabitants of these regions were the ones who suffered the greatest amounts of casualties and loss. Many of these places, however, are tourist destinations which attract thousands of visitors. They, too, were caught up in what was one of the deadliest natural disasters which has ever occurred. The 2013 movie "The Impossible" is based on the true experiences of one family, vacationing in Thailand when the tsunami hit.
It's another beautiful day, and Henry and the three boys are splashing about in the resort pool while Maria lounges nearby, reading a book. Suddenly there is an ominous rumbling sound, and as everyone looks toward the direction it is coming from, they can see row after row of palm trees being knocked down, though they can't see by what until it is almost upon them. When they do, there is little time to react; Henry grabs the two younger boys and turns to run before being hit by the monstrous wall of water. Lucas, who had just got out of the pool to retrieve their ball, dives back into it as the wave smashes over him, and Maria is hit, slammed through a glass panel, and dragged under the deadly, swirling mass of water.
When she surfaces, Maria is in bad shape: besides having gone through the glass pane, she has also been hit by various things while under water. Miraculously, she spots Lucas not too far away, being carried along by the water. They manage to eventually make their way to each other, clinging to an uprooted tree as they are swept along in the deadly torrent.
As the water recedes, the two find themselves in a swampy wasteland of ruins, filthy water, and dead bodies. As they attempt to make their way through it, the serious nature of Maria's injuries become apparent: she has a gash in her torso which is oozing blood, and a huge chunk has been ripped out of the back of one of her legs. As a physician, Maria knows how badly she is hurt, but aside from tying a bit of ripped fabric around her leg wound, there is little to be done except try to go on and find help. Fortunately, though battered and cut, Lucas isn't seriously injured, and as his mother weakens, it becomes necessary for him to be strong for her.
As they struggle along, it becomes evident that Maria isn't going to be able to make it much farther, and they decide to head for a large tree which is still standing. It will shelter them, get them out of the filthy swamp they're wading in, and allow them to see beyond their immediate surroundings. As they make their way towards it, they suddenly hear the faint sound of what is obviously a child, crying. Without even thinking about it, Maria turns in that direction, intent on finding the child. Lucas stops her, saying that she can't make it, that they need to save themselves. She asks him simply, "what if it was Thomas or Simon?" and Lucas loses his temper, shouting that Simon and Thomas are dead. Maria gently tells him that they need to try to help the child, even if it's the last thing they end up doing. Lucas relents, and they eventually find Daniel, a small boy half buried in debris. They again make their way to the tree, and once there, her strength gone, Maria can only make it onto a low limb by being pushed and pulled up by Lucas. The three of them rest, sharing a can of soda which Lucas found floating by the base of the tree.
They are eventually found by some Thai men who are searching the area for survivors. No longer able to walk, Maria is dragged over the rough and ruined terrain as they lack any other means of getting her out of there. They are taken to what is left of the nearby village where, though they have little enough themselves, the women find a blouse to wrap around Maria's torn and bloodstained tank top. She and Lucas are loaded into the back of a pick up truck to be taken to the nearest hospital. Drifting in and out of consciousness, Maria asks Lucas where Daniel is. He tells her he doesn't know- the villagers didn't put him in the truck with them. As they travel along the roads, Lucas sees much more of the devastation and death which the tsunami left in its wake.
The hospital is a scene of chaos. All the rooms, hallways, and even closets are filled with patients, and sheltering tents are set up outside. Maria is placed in a bed; she is in bad shape, but so are a lot of other people, and it's obviously going to be a while before she gets the treatment she needs. Lucas sits by her bedside, helplessly watching her suffer until she sends him away, telling him to find some way to help others while they're waiting. Unsure what to do, Lucas meets a man who is searching for his wife and children. He writes down their names, telling the man he will help him look. As he wanders the crowded hallways and wards calling out their names, he finds himself taking down the names of other people who are missing, helping those who are desperately searching for loved ones. For the most part, he is unsuccessful, but happily does manage to find one of the sons of the first man he was helping, watching in satisfaction as the two are joyfully reunited.
When Lucas returns to his mother's bed, however, he finds it emptied and stripped, being prepared for the next patient. He is told that the former occupant has died. In a panic, he grabs the chart hanging at the bottom of the bed and realizes it has another woman's name on it... in all the confusion and chaos, Maria's chart got mixed up with someone else's. Despite the help of a sympathetic nurse, Lucas can't find his mother anywhere, and spends agonizing hours not knowing if she's alive or dead. Eventually the nurse tracks her down... giving up on keeping accurate charts, the hospital staff is now scrawling peoples' names on their arms in marker to identify them and, misidentified, Maria had someone else's name written on her arm. The nurse tells Lucas that his mother has had surgery on the wound in her torso, but that she was too weak and had lost too much blood for the doctors to operate on her leg. Lucas once again keeps vigil by her bedside as her condition grows progressively worse. Happily, while getting a drink, Lucas catches sight of little Daniel, being held by a man who is obviously his father. He rushes back to tell Maria, but she is too far gone too hear him.
Meanwhile, as previously stated, when the tsunami hit, Henry had grabbed the two younger boys. As the wall of water slammed into him, however, he lost hold of them as he was tumbled about and pummeled. Surfacing, he fears the worst, but eventually finds the two boys clinging to a tree, relatively unharmed. He himself is badly bruised and limping, but still mobile. Leaving Thomas and Simon in the care of other survivors in the ruins of the resort, Henry attempts to search the area, shouting Maria and Lucas' names. As night falls, he returns to the resort, and is told that the survivors are being taken by truck to shelters on higher ground.
Unable to accept that Maria and Lucas are probably dead, Henry makes the agonizing decision to send Thomas and Simon to higher ground under the care of one of the women, while he continues to search for the rest of his family. After searching into the night, Henry is picked up by a rescue team which insists on taking him to a shelter.
At the shelter, Henry sits with other dazed and devastated survivors, trying to come to terms with what has happened to them. One of them, a man named Karl, says that he was staying at one of the resorts with his wife and daughter. He had slept in, and when he awoke, found a note from his wife saying that they had gone down to the beach. Then the tsunami hit. As Henry explains that his wife and son are missing, Karl asks him if he's called home yet. Henry says no- his phone is gone. Karl generously offers his to him, giving up precious minutes of power so that Henry can reach out to his family. He calls Maria's parents in England, and as he tries to find the words to tell them what's happening, he finally breaks down, sobbing uncontrollably, before regaining control and promising to do everything he can to find Maria and Lucas. Karl and Henry decide to travel together to search for their missing loved ones, and visit various shelters and hospitals, checking posted lists of names, and looking at the faces of the growing number of bodies arriving at the makeshift morgues. Eventually they hitch a ride on a truck which takes them to the hospital where Maria and Lucas are. Henry searches, but doesn't find them... not surprising since Maria's bed has been wheeled into what appears to be a supply closet. He heads back towards the truck. Lucas, who is in a line for water on the second floor balcony, glances down and sees the back of a man he is sure is his father, walking away. He shouts, but can't make himself heard over all the noise. He races to the stairs to get to the ground floor. Once there, he can't see Henry among all the crowds of people. More in frustration and despair than in hope, he screams his father's name.
Meanwhile, the truck carrying Thomas, Simon, and other children arrives at this hospital for a short stop. They hear Lucas shouting, recognize his voice, and jump off the truck, yelling for him. Seeing his brothers- whom he had assumed were dead- running towards him, Lucas kneels down and they embrace fiercely. Then, through the crowd and noise, he hears a hoarse voice saying his name. Lucas looks up to see their father limping to them. Seeing Henry reunited with his family, Karl climbs back on the truck to continue the search for his.
Lucas takes the others to see Maria, who is in truly bad shape. As Henry gently kisses her forehead, she wakes up enough to see her family is all alive and together. Assuming that she's going to die, she tells Henry to take care of the boys, but he tells her that she's going to be fine. This doesn't sound very convincing. Just then, a medical team arrives to take Maria into surgery, and Henry, Lucas and the two younger boys sit against a wall in the hospital, waiting for news.
As they wait into the night, Lucas falls asleep, and awakes to the news that his mother has made it through the operation. Henry's company sends a small plane for them, and they are taken to the airport to return to Singapore, where Maria will have to undergo more operations. As they prepare for takeoff, Lucas slips from his seat and goes to where his mother's hospital bed has been secured.
He tells her that he saw Daniel, and that he was with his father. Maria smiles, and he carefully hugs her. As they take off, Maria turns her head to the side to see out of the window. As they soar over the horrendous scene of devastation and death, tears silently drip down her face.