Well, Judge Eric Profancik has wrestled with that silent "T" for 35 years, doctor, and we're happy to state he finally won out over it.
"[We need] food, baby food, body bags…"
On December 26, 2004, the Earth moved. An earthquake, caused by a major shift in the tectonic plates under the Indian Ocean, caused our planet to momentarily bounce in its orbit. Worse than that, it also caused a massive tsunami (or tidal wave). With the quake's epicenter only five and a half miles off the coast of Sumatra, the resulting wave moved at five hundred miles per hour and crashed into Malaysia, Thailand, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and India. No one knew it was coming. The resulting catastrophe is beyond imagination as entire villages were wiped away and tens of thousands of people lost their lives. This DVD contains an ABC News Special that was filmed in the following week after this natural catastrophe. We see video footage from those who had a camera at the time, and we see and hear first-hand accounts of the devastation, pain, and suffering of those who survived.
I was expecting more of a punch from this special. Such a horrifying experience, I imagined feeling more anguish at such an unfortunate event. But Tsunami: Wave of Destruction didn't invoke those feelings from me. I think that's a result of the special being rushed and a bit jumbled in its presentation. This early special focused on getting the information out as quickly as possible and, as a result, doesn't feel like a cohesive whole. The first half hour holds together as Charles Gibson hosts. It has a uniform feel, linking graphics, and stories flow from to the next. But then the last half feels like it's a pieced-together affair with any related tsunami mini-story from other ABC News shows like Good Morning America and their evening news broadcast. I even doubted if this special was broadcast on television, since it felt so piecemeal.
Yet this shouldn't take away from the astonishing destruction of the tsunami. It's the worst natural disaster we'll see in our lifetimes (hopefully), and we cannot begin to fathom what happened on the other side of the world. The pictures, the videos, and the stories cannot accurately detail what a true, first-hand account would; thus, the emotion and the pain are diluted via television. And the people in the region have suffered terribly, and the world jumped to the aid, giving them billions in relief. The sad coda to this event is that, a mere five months later, this disaster is already a fading memory.
The DVD comes with a full frame video and a Dolby Digital 2.0 audio mix. Both transfers feel sub par, even for television fare: The video is a touch soft with the overall picture feeling a bit dark, yet it is clean and error free. With the audio, all you can say is that it's clear and you can understand what is being said. If you look at the bonus features, it appears this disc is chock full of additional information. That's not quite true. While there are seven bonus items listed, only two run more than two minutes and only one runs more than three. "Barbara Walters and President Bush" (2 minutes) is a quick talk about religion and possible public relations benefits for the United States; "How UNICEF Works" (1.75 minutes) is self-explanatory; "Animals" (1.75 minutes) briefly posits why so few animals died in the disaster; "Dolphins" (1 minute) talks about a dolphin and its calf being trapped in a lagoon; "American Vacationers" (1.75 minutes) shows Americans helping out in the crisis; and "US Relief Effort" (2.5 minutes) shows how the military is providing help. These six snippets almost aren't worth the effort to load them up, since they're so incredibly brief. Why not just include them in the special? Ah, yes: commercials. Lastly, "George Stephanapoulos and Kofi Anan" (12.5 minutes) is the meat of the bonus items where the two talk about the disaster, the United Nations, and the world.
On the whole, I cannot recommend this disc. It doesn't capture the raw emotion of this terrible event. While it does partake in some shocking videos and relevant scientific data, it's a flat presentation. If you really want to see this, then look for it at your local library.
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