Krakatoa, Channel 4

by | May 7, 2006 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

A touching portrayal of the catastrophic eruption of the three volcanoes on the island of Krakatoa in 1883.

What to say of you didn’t like it

A cheap cash-in worthy of US television of the recent Tsunami disaster, designed to worry people all over the world of the global devastation a super-volcano can cause.

What was good about it?

• The human drama inserted into the tragedy which looked at what happened to two families and a ship’s crew caught up in the subsequent tsunami.

• John Shrapnel’s menacing, foreboding narration.

• The lucid diagrammatic explanations of what caused Krakatoa to explode, and the equally well illustrated reasons for the tsunami and the ash propelled high into the atmosphere that caused red skies all over the world for five years afterwards.

• The striking footage of volcanoes erupting which were either recent documentary films or CGI reconstructions.

• The vivid imagery of the tsunami that decapitated a lighthouse and swamped villages along two heavily inhabited Indonesian coasts, where we got to see “inside” the inexorable wave.

• The visit to the new island of Krakatoa that has risen from beneath the waves which will soon be as tempestuous as its predecessor, and has already killed one tourist.

What was bad about it?

• Some of the spoken analogies about the devastation the eruption caused were too vague and exclusive. “The detonation was as loud as 150,000 tonnes of TNT”, “The sound was heard over one twelfth of the Earth’s surface” and that the amount of material thrown into the atmosphere “could have covered Manhattan to a depth of 200 feet” the latter of which would have been fine only if we were American.

• The spouses of the local Dutch governors all seemed to be auditioning for roles in Desperate Housewives as they were both hugely dissatisfied, and had to fight the forbidden lure of virile young men who worked with their husbands. “Sherman was an energetic young geologist.”

• When the villagers were fleeing the onrushing tsunami they did so with all the urgency and athleticism of Andy Fordham doing warm-up laps in Fit Club.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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