there needed to be a greater emphasis on the actions and events that took place for the boat’s impact to have a secondary effect through the film

The Raft’s concept is far more enticing than its final product, but the research, editing and production value of the piece is strong enough to counteract many of the shortcomings that come from the original filming. The interest is rooted in the events that took place on the boat in 1973, and the revisiting doesn’t quite hit the mark.

In 1973, an experimental scientist believed he could uncover the truth behind human violence, and set out a plan to build a raft capable of traversing the Atlantic in just over 100 days. Dr. Santiago Genovés believed the close quarters and cramped atmosphere will reveal the secrets behind violence, supplying information on how to prevent all future war. Inviting individuals to apply from across the globe, 12 were chosen to join Genovés on the raft, hoping to take part in a revolutionary experiment. 46 years later, the seven living members of the voyage are reunited for the first time to recount how it affected them as humans, and how tumultuous the trip actually was.

THE RAFT

Resonating clearly from the words of Dr. Genovés, The Raft was a particularly dramatic and power driven space to live, and much of that atmosphere seems to have been lost in translating the environment onto the bigger screen. The grainy footage from the trip has a particularly calming colour palette, and there needed to be a greater emphasis on the actions and events that took place for the boat’s impact to have a secondary effect through the film. It is too much of a story retelling, rather than showing how affecting the raft really was.

Naturally, the film isn’t void of quality, and often features like this suffer as they cannot process a promising start into a successful feature; A promising base with nothing built upon it. The building of a replica raft indoors on a matt black background is a wonderful touch, and it does well to bring stories out of those who experienced the journey, but there is perhaps just too long of a gap between this recounting and the initial trip to give the emotions the powerful boost they needed.

The film does have moments of deep reflection, and poses interesting questions around human nature, but there aren’t enough of those, and they don’t always sit quite right. The journey is one of fascination that created incredible media scrutiny, and the risk Genovés took in even suggesting he could make this trip was wildly brave, but The Raft just doesn’t match that initial ambition, and that’s fairly clear to see despite it being an outrightly enjoyable piece of film making.

3/5

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