Fire in the Night

Fire in the Night

Anthony Wonke (2013)

90min
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Review

Our Score
On 6 July 1988, the North Sea oil rig Piper Alpha blew up. There were 226 men on it; 167 died, including two from the rescue boat. In the same way that military veterans go back to the battlefield in their memories, director Anthony Wonke's documentary, made to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the disaster, takes a few of the 61survivors back to that night. There is not the reassurance of a noble cause here, but the events bear comparison with the nightmare of battle. On the night in question an explosive fire broke out, though few realised at first just how dangerous it was. Wonke's film patiently takes us through the timeline: the discovery that lifeboats had been destroyed; more explosions; the failure of the lights which plunged the men into darkness; the terrible heat and smoke and noise as metal began to scream and melt. Some men waited patiently for rescue, but helicopters could not get near the rig and a rescue boat was lost (with the loss of two men). Some jumped from the helipad 175 feet into the sea below. One man recalls surfacing and, feeling his head begin to cook, deciding to kick back underwater, choosing to drown rather than burn. Some shook hands and said goodbye. There are no interviews with bereaved families, no examination of the causes or the aftermath (other than a closing caption), nothing fancy about Wonke's film. But strong men cry for those who did not make it. And there's a powerful insight into the different ways people face death, and how those who do not die come to terms with their good fortune.

Cast & Crew

Director Anthony Wonke

Other Information

Language: English Colour Theatrical distributor: Soda Released on: 21 Jun 2013

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