The National Railway Company of Belgium are accusing Netflix's Death Note movie of using footage from a real 2010 train crash. First released in 2017, the live-action Death Note was based on the manga and anime series of the same name in which a genius high school student, Light Yagami, finds a notebook that allows him to kill anyone in the world by writing down their name. Light's attempts to rid the world of crime using his new book pit him against an eccentric freelance investigator known only as L, and the duo engage in an intense battle of wits and morality.
Starring Nat Wolff, Margaret Qualley, Lakeith Stanfield and Willem Dafoe, Death Note was poorly received, particularly by fans of the original story. Adam Wingard's adaptation was criticized for moving the story's setting from Japan to the U.S., and for making numerous changes to both the plot and the characters. Despite the mostly negative critical reception, Netflix is reportedly planning a sequel to Death Note, with both director Wingard and writer Greg Russo set to return.
However, Death Note is now coming under fire from Belgium for allegedly using footage of a real-life train crash in a news report scene. The crash in question occurred in Buizingen in 2010, and resulted in the deaths of 19 people. Dimitri Temmerman, a spokesman for Belgian rail operator SNCB, claimed that Netflix did not approach either the company or the crash survivors regarding the use of these images and stated (via BBC): "This shows little respect for the victims and surviving relatives, or for the staff of the railway and the emergency services. We are deciding whether to take steps to deal with this matter." A survivor of the accident, Anita Mahy, added "You'll just sit and watch an evening movie unsuspectingly, and then face the accident again."
Netflix has yet to respond publicly to these reports and, as such, it's possible that more facts surrounding this issue will emerge at a later stage, particularly with regards to whether or not the producers sought permission to use the footage and who ultimately sanctioned its inclusion in the film. As illustrated by Mahy's comments however, the scene has clearly already had an impact on those involved in the crash 9 years ago and, as a result, it would perhaps be prudent for Netflix to edit the footage out of their Death Note adaptation.
Death Note is certainly not the first movie to use, or try to use, genuine disaster footage. In 2015 for example, Michael Bay was forced to apologize after a clip of a U.S. Air Force accident made its way into Project Almanac, a film made by Bay's production company. In that particular case, the footage was spotted in the movie's trailer and Bay subsequently requested Paramount remove it from the movie itself. Those who complained were quoted at the time as being satisfied by the apology and swift resolution. Since Death Note has already been available to stream for some time, it's unclear whether a similar approach will be enough, or whether there will be further ramifications.