Deepwater Horizon

Another Tragedy Turned Film

Kiara Lu

deepwater-poster-imdbPhoto Courtesy of IMDB

The film Deepwater Horizon hit the silver screen on September 30th, 2016. The drama-thriller made audiences relive the accident that occurred April 20th, 2010 when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, creating a massive fire on the ship that resulted in the death of several crew members. However, Peter Berg was not the first to direct a disaster film based off a recent true event.

Films over the past several years have had a running theme of using real-life tragedies and accidents as their blockbuster plots. Some of these include: Lone Survivor, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, The Impossible,  Zero Dark Thirty, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi, and so many more. These films were plot-based on the 9/11 Terrorist Attack, the mission to kill a Taliban leader, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, and the attack on a U.S. compound in Libya. All of these films call to mind a state of grief and fear, where only time would tell if the victims would ever be the same.

So why would audiences pay to watch something so upsetting, and so real, that happened to people just like them? Where is the appeal? Is it to waste a little time on a Saturday night? Is it because it got great reviews? Is it because you only vaguely remembered this was a true event? Why does it take a film recreation to draw some attention? Why does a film have to be made about some of the most unnerving times?

I have never been one to turn away from a good action film, but after seeing ‘Deepwater Horizon’ it occurred to me that this happened to people who were just doing their job one day and were set into a life or death situation. Unlike the film versions, there were no stunt doubles, no extra takes, and no chance for a rewrite. It was not just another script for a heart-racing thriller that a well-known actor, Mark Wahlberg for example (Deepwater Horizon, The Lone Survivor), could add to his repertoire. Like Deepwater Horizon, these films were based on events that could not be stopped.

The movie made me cry, as most do, but this time I was more distraught than usual because this time I was witnessing a tragedy that could not be stopped. It had already happened to people who are just like me, my family, and friends. And surely, the motion picture version would be a tad more dramatic which is to be expected, but the point was still made. I cringed as the mud exploded from the drill. I squinted my eyes at how bright and hot the fire was. I found it hard to breathe as some of the passengers realized that there was a big chance that they would die on that ship.

Maybe that is why there is such an appeal, because these films really do hit you where it hurts. These events have occurred in our own backyard, and seeing it recreated brings out raw emotion. So maybe there is some genius behind these movies. Maybe the purpose is to spark some change and prevent these kind of events from happening again. And I guess making some money off of it is not a horrible factor.

I will see you at the opening of ‘Patriots Day’. You know, the film that recounts the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, starring none other than Mark Wahlberg.