The Analysis of the Movie "Fire at Sea"

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Documentary Fire at Sea

The movie Fire at Sea is set in Lampedusa, an Italian island. The movie starts by introducing the island with facts, and it mentions that in the past twenty years, 400,000 migrants have arrived on the island and 15,000 have died in the journey. Throughout the movie, we are presented with two different scenarios. The first shows glimpses of the lives of people on the island, in particular, of a boy named Samuele and his family. The second scenario portraits the lives of hundreds of refugees coming through the sea and the local coastal guard. They arrive through the sea crumpled in boats, many of them in terrible health conditions or already dead. We see the coastal guards rescue them, discuss their conditions with each other, register and treat, and in some cases, put them in body bags. The refugees’ names are not mentioned, and we don’t accompany their stories much, like we do with Samuele and his family, but we catch glimpses of their pain, misery, and loss of loved ones. I was intrigued by the lack of interaction between the refugees and the Islanders.

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One scene, in particular, held my attention: the coastal guard gets a distress call; the refugees beg them for rescue. On the following morning, we can see a woman in the kitchen. She hears the news on the radio that thirty bodies were recovered from the sea, miles from the island. She says “poor souls”, and continues to cook. This gap between the two realities in the same island could mean lack of interest, but it could also mean that the Islanders are too used to it by now. The only link we find in the movie between them is a doctor who treats both Samuele and the refugees. Since Greece has secured its land borders, Italy has become the main route to refugees.

In 2013, after a shipwreck in Lampedusa, in which more than 300 people died, the Italian government launched an operation called Mare Nostrum that cost millions of dollars to rescue migrants. The expensive operation was later replaced by the operation Triton, which runs on one-third of the previous budget and has help from many EU members. Italy has been spending a lot of money on immigration, and that has made several of its citizens unhappy with the majoritarian left-wing government. This lead to the victory and formation of a populist right-wing government in the 2018 elections. Matteo Salvini, Italy’s current Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior has announced his plans to deport illegal immigrants, which puts at stake the future of the hundreds of thousands of refugees currently in Italy.

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