It’s a sad but seemingly inexorable truth that the nature of the 24-hour cable news network allows for political backbiting to overwhelm almost any reasonable discussion of the most gripping problems facing our nation, but the arguably positive flip-side is that when true disaster strikes, the news media is in a uniquely advantageous position — quite unlike any other time in human history — to broadcast from strife-stricken zones in real-time, in a manner that can crucially impact initial response.
Such was certainly the case with the heartrending images that followed in the wake of the massive earthquake that rocked Haiti on January 12 of this year, leveling Port-au-Prince and crippling that poor nation’s infrastructure. Running an hour long, the PBS Frontline title The Quake, written and produced by Marcela Gaviria and Martin Smith, takes cameras directly into the midst of this devastation, but also goes even further beyond the stories covered in the news over the first weeks and months, revealing faults in the Haitian government and world organizations that simply were not prepared to face such a disaster.
Bearing witness to the disaster and ill-coordinated relief efforts in one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere, The Quake focuses on those responsible for handling the catastrophe, including the Haitian state and the United Nations, which were crippled by the magnitude of the disaster and struggled to craft an effective national response. Drawing on exclusive interviews with relief workers and politicians, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Rene Preval, the president of Haiti, The Quake makes a shaming case that portions of the disaster were unavoidable, but that the world can also do better.
Housed in a regular plastic Amaray case, The Quake comes to DVD presented in anamorphic widescreen, with an English language stereo track. Its static menu screen proffers chapter stops, but unfortunately no other supplemental material. To purchase the DVD, phone (800) PLAY-PBS, or simply click here; if Amazon’s your thing, meanwhile, click here. B- (Movie) D- (Disc)