In recent years natural disasters such as tsunamis, tornados and earthquakes have ravaged communities and taken away more than anyone could imagine. We focus on the havoc it has caused and the devastation it leaves behind. We try to help from afar by offering donations and other aid but the reality is so much worse. When broken down to single households and individuals we gather more of a sense of the brutal impact an event like these have. Filmmaker Ron Howard (Cinderella Man, The Da Vinci Code) along with National Geographic showcase the rebirth of the community of Paradise, California after surviving the most destructive wildfire in American history in over 100 years; it was also the world’s most expensive natural disaster of 2018.
Not a novice when it comes to documentaries Howard (Pavarotti, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week, Made in America) takes us on a year’s journey as the community struggles to rebuild. Immediately as the film starts we watch through police body/car and personal cameras the absolute hell these people went through. No movie could do these scenes justice as the fires ravage everything in its path and blackens the sky creating absolute chaos. People have no idea where to go or what to do, cars jammed in traffic, hospitals trying to clear their patients were only some of the problems as those stuck were also in danger of their cars failing. Everyone was forced to evacuate within a minutes notice and the immediate horror they had to overcome is astounding.
The film covers the personal stories of some in the community and they all stress that they have no desire to leave; to their argument “would you evacuate areas threatened by earthquakes?”. Their love for Paradise is deep rooted not only in these few but the community as a whole. Left with nothing these people never consider the option of leaving and those who even think it know they will be back eventually. The films portrayal of these people is so endearing and heartwarming that the phrase “the darkest hour is just before the dawn” has never rang more true. The town’s reemergence is much like a phoenix rising from the ashes and in stressful times like these it is comforting to know that as a people we can overcome.
3.5 out of 5
Film will be available Friday 7/31
All screening info can be found Here