Of the disaster narratives that I studied for my article “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?“, the one that surprised me the most was Aftermath (Elliott Lester, 2017). I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this movie in any way, but I did. Not only that, I discovered that Arnold Schwarzenegger is actually a very good actor.

The premise of the movie (information taken from IMDb) is

Two strangers’ lives become inextricably bound together after a devastating plane crash. Inspired by actual events, AFTERMATH tells a story of guilt and revenge after an air traffic controller’s (Scoot McNairy) error causes the death of a construction foreman’s (Arnold Schwarzenegger) wife and daughter.


The film may have particularly drawn me in due to my research about the JL123 crash and how aspects of that look at the responses to the families in the wake of the crash.

The starting point for this movie is that is inspired by a true story and the aftermath of the 2002 Überlingen mid-air collision. However, as I discuss in my article “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?” a key difference with the movie is that it is now set in the USA and for this reason is wasn’t included in the ‘historical’ movies that I studies. That the movie is set in the USA ties in with one of the key conclusions of my article in the way in which stories/events set in other countries may need to be fully translated and transposed to another country so that the location and conventions fit with the target audience of that country.

In terms of the revised list of conventions that I developed as part of my article in relation to Aftermath, the movie has 12 out of the 17. Interestingly, this was one of the English-language movies that does show dead bodies – something that I found happens much more in Japanese movies than English-language ones. Conversely, it was one of the English-language disaster movies studied that didn’t show panic – a convention found more in English-language movies than Japanese ones.

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