The Most Impossible Part Of The Impossible Is Finding The True Story

the impossible maria belon lucas belon

There’s nothing more rewarding than watching a feel-good movie based on a true story. It just pulls the heartstrings in all the right places. With that said, The Impossible isn’t exactly a feel-good movie. The majority of it’s terrifying and scary and downright devastating to watch. The film follows a well-to-do British couple on vacation with their three young sons in the days before and after the tsunami hits.

Maria (Naomi Watts) and Henry (Ewan McGregor) are enjoying time at the hotel pool when the infamous wave comes crashing down on their vacation. Their lives are instantly changed as Maria ends up alone in the swirling waters with her eldest son Lucas (Tom Holland) while Henry’s safe on land with the younger two boys Simon (Samuel Joslin) and Thomas (Oaklee Pendergast). The majority of the movie focuses on Maria’s struggle to survive an infection she got in the polluted tsunami waters and Henry’s struggle to reunite his family without even knowing if Maria and Lucas survived. Whoever did Naomi Watts’ make-up in this film deserves an award, maybe even all the awards. She looked like death. Absolute, wretched death.

Her miraculous recovery combined with her emtional reunion with her family will have you in tears by the end. Even though you knew they all survived, it still amazes you that they did. That amidst all the horrible devastation and sorrow, they managed to keep their family of five intact. It’s enough to make you believe in something.

Naturally I started googling “The Impossible” true story as soon as I got home. I had to know how similar this amazing story was to what really happened. And I’ll admit, after seeing how closely Argo followed the their true story, I had high hopes for this one.

However the real story behind The Impossible doesn’t appear to exist online. The little I could find offered me no information on what the family really went through when the tsunami hit. While that doesn’t take away from the film, it certainly makes me wonder how many dramatic liberties they took with this story. Is it as true as they say? I don’t know.

Here’s what I do know. The real family is from Spain. The mother’s name is Maria Belon and the father’s name is Enrique Belon. They have three sons and their names are  Lucas Belon, Simon Belon and Tomas Belon. They vacationed in Thailand over the Christmas holidays in 2004. They appear to support the movie and can be seen here at the premiere.

Maria Belon Enrique Belon The Impossible PremiereMaria Belon Lucas Belon The Impossible Premiere

Naomi Watts Maria Belon The Impossible

That’s it. That’s all that we know. Do I believe they got separated? Yes. Do I believe they reunited with each other? Yes. But do I believe everything that happened between their separation and their reunion (ie. the whole movie)? I don’t know.

In an interview printed in the Orlando Sentinel Naomi Watts says that the real Maria Belon told her about what really happened during the storm — which makes me feel a little more confident that the entire movie’s not made-up.

Watts credits the real Maria Belon for being “an open book” when it came to recalling her personal experience during that harrowing time.

The two met before shooting began, and Belon was on the film set. Belon, a physician in Spain, also wrote detailed letters chronicling her experience, including taking refuge in a tree and the Thai villagers who discovered her weak and injured body.

And an article in Deadline says the family enjoyed watching the film when it premiered at the   International Toronto Film Festival in the fall.

Last night, Enrique Belon told me that he, his wife Maria and sons Lucas, Tomas and Simon actually enjoyed watching the film, though they admit it helped having watched production and an earlier screening to prepare themselves to relive a nightmare. And no, they don’t relive the nightmare in dreams each night, at least not anymore.

However that’s about as much as I can find about the real story of what happened to the Belon family after the tsunami hit. Is it possible that their kismet reunion really happened in real life? I’d like to think so, but the lack of information out there makes me wonder.

Does not knowing the true story take away from the movie’s powerful message? No. It’s still a reminder that this disaster happened and that it happened to real, live human beings with loving families. Every member of this family miraculously survived while so many others died. So, so many others.

While the movie certainly glosses over that point and while it certainly white-washed the Belon family story, it still reminds us about the sanctify of life. Hopefully we can remember its message the next time a natural disaster hits. The number we hear reportered aren’t just numbers, they’re all individual human beings who can’t possibly be clumped into a body count figure.

(Photos: FayesVision/, Max Powell,


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    • Alex

      Definitely the worst research work I’ve seen in my life.

    • johno

      argo was not accurate at all and ben affleck is a piece of shit for insulting canada….as for this movie who cares if its accurate its pretty good.

    • Bruno Sterckeman

      “And I’ll admit, after seeing how closely Argo followed the their true story”
      As Jimmy Carter said, Argo was very good as a movie but it did not represent at all what actually happened.

    • SPrice

      Wow!! This article seems to have been written by someone completely unqualified. To save you embarrassment the next time you write something, allow me to offer one (only one) word of advice. That word is “research.”

    • facebook-1575010061

      Great article! I bought the DVD after reading rave reviews. I very much enjoyed it. My tears came at the boys’ reunion. Obviously they were going to find each other at some point. Did it actually happen that dramatically? I wondered too. I too was curious about the accuracy of the film. Like you, I was surprised how little info there was online. Maybe someday Henry or one of the boys will write an account that’s less Mom focused? Personally, I think Tom Holland deserved an Oscar. Reminded me of Christian Bale in “Empire of the Sun”.

    • Sharon Howarth

      Its not impossible.. here is an article/interview with the family, and much of what was shown in the film, happened

      It took me about 8 mins to find.. so.. there is you answer

    • Lisa
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    • Cleo

      The only thing is, it is a movie about life and death and at NO MOMENT whatsoever God is mentioned.

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    • Lulu

      They’re right, you really should be ashamed of yourself. The movie is incredible, and their story too.

    • Melissa Patterson
      this is the most descriptive piece I could find…I would love to read the transcript of the radio show she first interviewed on that caught the attention of the film maker.
      I believe you are wrong in assuming because you cannot find detailed word for word account for this story that it must be only half true. and I also disagree that it glosses over the fact that so many died…i don’t even know how you came up with that conclusion since death and devastation was at the core of this film. And I certainly am baffled at the fact you think this is white washed…María didn’t not want “credit” for her fate…she just wanted the story of fate to be told…her humble personality did not want to be seen as a heroine, just as lucky. So to be played as a UK family instead of Spanish is beside the point.

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