TV Highlights

After the Wave

Discovery Channel - 9pm

Who's in it?

Survivors of the 2004 boxing day tsunami, and those who helped deal with the cataclysmic aftermath, told their stories in this moving look back at one of the worst natural disasters of all time.

In a nutshell

More than a quarter of a million people perished in the course of a few hours when a vast underwater earthquake sent tidal waves crashing against coastlines from Thailand to the Maldives. Most of the world watched in shock on the day after Christmas in 2004, but what was it like to have actually been there, in the thick of it all? This suitably epic documentary wove together various sub-plots, telling a complex story of endurance and optimism in the face of calamity.

It was partly the tale of a vast forensic operation: we were given an insight into things by the Australian specialists who had to identify more than 5,000 bodies washed up in Thailand. Their motto was "we will take them home", even if that meant years of painstaking and heartbreaking effort. Even more moving were the testimonies of survivors, including the British lady who was caught in the flood while kayaking, and the man so determined to find his wife and child that he visited countless villages and hospitals, only to finally realise they had indeed been lost in to the tsunami.

What's the verdict?

Masterfully mixing the emotional sagas of the tsunami with a cool-headed historical approach to a major global event, this wasn't just a good documentary: it's very probably the definitive film about that awful catastrophe.

Star rating: 5/5

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07-07-2011