Special thanks to Summit Entertainment, I recently participated in the press roundtable interviews of THE IMPOSSIBLE which is a drama about a family surviving through the 2004 Tsunami and I asked the screenwriter, Sergio G. Sanchez, how many rewrite that he had to go through til the final version of the script..
SS: “It’s hard to tell, officially it’s 15. But that’s what it says on the cover page, but it’s more than that. Every day we would change things because we shot at the very same hotel, and the very same hospital that this story happened. So everyday we would finish shooting and word would get around that we were making the film, we’re having dinner and somebody walks up to you and say ‘Could I talk to you, my family was there, I want to tell you a story’. And so all the time we were incorporating stuff, I was there everyday during the shooting. And sometimes there were things that would happen with the lanterns, for example, when they threw that scene at the beginning, when they light the candles and threw them up. I noticed within 3 takes and all those 3 takes for some strange reasons, our family’s lantern would go up to the left and all the other lanterns would goo the other direction. I saw that I said to Juan Antonio, ‘It’s the third time this happened’, so I quickly wrote some dialogue lines and gave them to the actors because I thought it was like a nice symbolic element to put in there. We met this woman who had been there and she lost 14 members who were with her, Swedish group, they lost 14 people, so all the time we were trying to incorporate, so 14 plus the shooting one which kept changing all the time.”
To me, the film was surprisingly gruesome and I didn't know it was going to be that graphic, so I asked Sanchez if if it was initially that gruesome on the pages, or how much of it was from director Juan Antonio Bayona's vision..
SS: “In the page, it was much more gruesome. Actually when we started showing the script to people, some people were really afraid, but again, what’s in the pages were tougher than what is on the screen, but what’s on the screen is nothing compared to what happened there. It was difficult to find a balance.. you need it to be truthful enough. And we asked many of the survivors, ‘Would it make you feel uncomfortable if we showed the corpses and the wounds?’ and their immediate response was ‘No please, we want that to be in there because you need people to understand what it felt like, the kind of pain that people went trough and what it was’ And at the same time, if you do a hyperealistic version, it’s unbearable, so we had to find a balance in between that would be respectful enough to the victims and something that you can watch without fainting."
Directed by J. A. BAYONA Written by SERGIO G. SÁNCHEZ Produced by BELÉN ATIENZA, ENRIQUE LÓPEZ LAVIGNE, ÁLVARO Starring NAOMI WATTS, EWAN McGREGOR, TOM HOLLAND Genre: Drama Studio: Summit Entertainment Website: TheImpossible-Movie.com Rating: PG-13 Release date: December 21, 2012 (limited)
Based on the true story of one family’s survival of the 2004 tsunami, THE IMPOSSIBLE stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor and is directed by J.A. Bayona (THE ORPHANAGE). Maria (Naomi Watts), Henry (Ewan McGregor) and their three sons begin their winter vacation in Thailand, looking forward to a few days in tropical paradise. But on the morning of December 26th, as the family relaxes around the pool after their Christmas festivities the night before, a terrifying roar rises up from the center of the earth. As Maria freezes in fear, a huge wall of black water races across the hotel grounds toward her. THE IMPOSSIBLE is the powerful and unforgettable account of a family caught, with tens of thousands of strangers, in the mayhem of one of the worst natural catastrophes of our time. But the true-life terror is tempered by the unexpected displays of compassion, courage and simple kindness that Maria and her family encounter during the darkest hours of their lives. Both epic and intimate, devastating and uplifting, The Impossible is a journey to the core of the human heart.