Fire at Sea


When I knew I was going to visit the Migration Museum and watch a film about migrants I really had no idea what to expect and therefore was very curious and also a little bit excited. Since I knew that it was a documentary that we’re going to watch I was very much focussing on what the message behind all of this was and what the director wants to convey with the single scenes. Therefore when the film started off with a boy trying to climb a tree in the Island of Lampedusa I was sure there was a purpose behind it I would understand with the film continuing or even just afterwards. The single scenes of the individuals living their everyday life  on Lampedusa was put in a extreme contrast to what is going on at the same time in the Mediterranean sea and at the coast. As Samuele, the little Italian boy from the beginning is playing with his friend, shooting birds with his catapult or learning to paddle, thousands of migrants from Africa are aiming towards Europe, in this case Lampedusa.

They spend weeks on their poorly constructed boats, severely dehydrated and undernourished and the mix of seawater and fuel causing the migrants to suffer from painful burns. By the time the migrants are rescued by the Italian rescue team some of them are close to death and won’t make it to the coast and some people died during their exhausting journey.

Gianfranco Rosi, the director does an an astonishing job in conveying the atmosphere and the people’s feelings to the viewer without adding any music or extra voices which is exactly what makes his work so powerful. You don’t need voiceover to tell you that the migrants are exhausted and traumatised because you see every emotion in their eyes.

During the documentary the viewer is introduced to a doctor who is partly responsible for the migrants, dead and alive. During an Interview you see how deeply the situation of the migrants and carrying out autopsies of children, women and men is affecting him. Samuele later also becomes his patient since he is suffering from anxiety and hyperventilation.

From all the scenes of migrants playing football and arguing about which countries should be allowed to play, Samuele in school struggling with English class or Samueles Grandmother Maria in the kitchen with her husband one scene was very striking to me. It involves a Nigerian Man telling his story while singing: “The Sea is not a place to pass by … The Sea is not a road.” Once again showing that the Sea is a power no human being will ever be able to conquer. But seeing all of the doctors and the rescue teams working together to help the “poor souls” as the refugees were referred to several times by Lampedusan inhabitants made me feel like there is something we as humans can do to fight the catastrophe.

That’s why I think it is extremely important for everyone to see this documentary. When you only hear a number of people drowning in the Mediterranean Sea in the evening news you don’t really understand what is really going on and you’re not aware of the impact it has on the people living in Lampedusa and the miserable situation of the refugees. But when watching this documentary I feel like I gained a little bit of awareness on what is actually happening there and all the suffering these people go through.


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