Firstly, I really enjoyed this film.
Secondly, I’m not sure I could have watched it if I had actually been in Christchurch for any of the earthquakes. The trauma of it would simply have been too much. All credit to those who were there and braved this film anyway.
Opening with scenes from before the first September earthquake in 2010, I saw the Christchurch that I remember from my travels a decade ago. Calm, relatively peaceful. Actually quite English, in all the ways it used to market itself as.
For me, the power of this film comes from the fact there is no narrator. Other than a few captions to give some sense of date, the raw footage is allowed to tell the story itself. Gerard Smythe and his team put together film that did not shy away from the painful reality, but nor did it seek to sensationalise it. Over the course of a year, you see people get up, dust themselves off, only to be knocked right back down.
It doesn’t take long living in this city to know all these places and be able to relate to it on some level. The aftereffects of the earthquakes touch your lives daily here; there is no escape. Having seen this film, I have nothing but admiration for the people who, unlike me, are not outside observers to the aftermath, but the ones who still can – and often do – relive it like it was yesterday.
Link to the trailer can be found here: When A City Falls