Tsunami Caught on Camera
Sunday February 3 at 10 pm ET/PT on CBC News Network
This is the incredible story of the people who lived through the 2004 tsunami, told using their own words and videos.
The catastrophic disaster killed 230,000 people and as the devastation unfolded, remarkable amateur video footage emerged. It was shot by people from all around the tsunami’s vast impact area and depicted the terror and chaos they experienced and lived through as the massive waves struck land.
Now, for the first time, Darlow Smithson will collate that footage into one film, a minute-by-minute account, told by the people who were there.
A simple combination of archive and personal testimonies from those who shot it will provide the narrative arc of a film in which the sound will be as compelling as the pictures. Listening to the actual conversations, ensuing terror and thundering destruction recorded on the original tapes provides a shocking intimacy and immediacy that no dramatic reconstruction ever could.
Free from music, narration or scientific analysis, our film will deliver a powerful and very human story of confusion and panic, of heartbreak and heroism, of death and, in some cases, miraculous survival.
In Thailand’s Kho Lak, an English visitor spots the oncoming wave through the beachside palm trees. Minutes later and just a few miles away, an American tourist on Kho Phi Phi clings to his family and films as the waters engulf his hotel.
Watching English speaking footage only, we will see exactly what they saw, hear what they heard and listen as their off-camera voices turn from initial curiosity to bewildered fear and sheer terror.
This will be a shocking, personal and historically valuable documentation of one of the planet’s worst natural disasters, told by eyewitnesses who could only run for their lives or watch as others were instantaneously overwhelmed.
Their footage is brutally raw and immersive, and we’ll interweave the tapes from that day with emotive interviews with those who filmed them. What were their first thoughts as the waves thundered towards them? How did they survive when so many perished? What made them continue to film the event? What do they feel looking back at it now? How has it changed them?
Using this combination of archive and interview, the narrative becomes one of human emotions and survival instincts, tracing that disaster’s terrible seven-hour timeline and massive geographic range, from the initial undersea earthquake, to the sweeping arc of destruction around the Indian Ocean, and the immediate and tragic aftermath.