‘The Impossible’ is inspired by a true story. The plot explores how a family beats the odds to reunite after surviving the dangerous tsunami that impacted Thailand, and its neighboring countries, in 2004. With a death toll of nearly 230,000 people, the natural disaster is considered to be one of the worst ones in modern history. If you’ve seen the film, then you’re aware of exactly how many obstacles the Bennett family has to jump to eventually be together again. So, if you’re wondering where the real-life equivalents of Maria Bennett and Daniel are today, we have got your back!
Who are Maria and Daniel?
Naomi Watts plays Maria Bennett in ‘The Impossible,’ and the character is actually based on the real-life doctor, mother, and wife, María Belón Alvárez. Born on May 12, 1966, she studied to become a physician before working as a management professor at ESADE Business School. In fact, she has also worked as a business consultant for major conglomerates like Pepsi. The survivor was on vacation with her family in Khao Lak, Thailand, and was resting by the pool at the Orchid Resort Hotel when the tsunami wreaked havoc.
Speaking about the terrible incident, Maria said, “I remember being pushed against walls. You could feel them trembling and breaking, feeling them as they gave way, one after another. I was under the water for a long, long time. I was not in physical pain but the drowning sensation was like being in a spin-dryer. The doctors said I was underwater for more than three minutes because my lungs were absolutely full of water. I saw many lights under the water, tunnels with lights at the end, that people tell you they see when they are going to die.”
At that point in time, her three sons, Lucas (10), Tomas (8), and, Simon (5) were playing with their father, Enrique “Quique” Alvarez. When the wave hit, everyone was engulfed in the water. Maria clung onto a tree once she came up to the surface. She had been severely injured and thought that her family would not have survived. Just then, she heard Lucas call out for help. She recalled, “You just think about saving them. I swam across the current and grabbed him. We held on to a tree trunk.”
It was also around this time that they helped Daniel, a wee toddler of Swedish nationality, to safety alongside them. In the end, the family, fortunately, was reunited at the hospital where Maria was getting treatment. Daniel also reconciled with a loved one, presumably his father, but this was the last time anyone from the Alvarez family knew what had happened to him. Eventually, the doctor required 14 months of medical care and treatments before she could finally regain her health.
Where are Maria and Daniel Now?
Today, Maria works as an advocate for tsunami survivors and gives passionate speeches about her own fortuitous endeavor with the deadly calamity. In 2015, she was the Guest Speaker at the Share Iuvare Business Convention. Apart from this, Maria even spoke at the World Business Forum that year. But it is evident that she has always been passionate about sharing her story. After all, she returned to the site of the horrifying incident when ‘The Impossible’ was being filmed.
— Franz Heukamp (@FranzHeukamp) March 25, 2019
“It was a bit painful sometimes during the whole process of working on the movie but it is pain that is worth going through because we truly believe in this film,” she said. The death-defying incident has taught Maria that life is a gift to be cherished. In her many talks, she tells aspiring executives to understand the capacity of human resilience and solidarity.
Lucas mentioned, “Everyone in the family had one person they connected with in the whole thing. For my mother it was Daniel. We have always wanted to find out what happened to him.” Maria referred to the toddler as another son of hers who was growing up somewhere in Sweden, and that she wanted to learn more about him. She even wrote a letter to the child’s deceased mom, expressing her emotions for her “son,” whose memory is etched on her heart.
“It wasn’t your fault you died nor my fault I survived, it was fate. But fate has a sharp edge, it leaves wounds and buries scars,” she wrote. “Fate isn’t always fair and that hurts. The pain is pain, but not guilt… That pain is like an invisible stone in my shoe, making it impossible to forget with every step, I’ll never get rid of it. The best I can do is to adapt to its presence.” Although the family did want to get in touch with Daniel post the release of the film, it is unclear whether they were able to do so.
Read More: The Impossible Ending, Explained