October 16, 2021
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, the Oscar-winning director couple for the stunning 2019 documentary “Free Solo” return with the equally captivating “The Rescue” which tells the story against all odds of the twelve boys and their football coach trapped in a cave in flooded Thailand in 2018. Using a plethora of uncovered footage, new interviews and reenactments, the documentary keeps you glued to the edge of your seat as if you were watching the breaking news unfold. unwind.
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Take, for example, retired firefighter Rick Stanton and computer consultant John Volanthen. Both men were bad at sports and bullied in school, but they were instrumental in rescuing the trapped football team by using their cave diving expertise to craft an inconceivable plan straight out of a Irwin Allen disaster film. It remains one of the most daring rescues ever attempted and now, for the first time, the full story can be told thanks to the more than 87 hours of mostly unseen footage acquired from the Thai Navy.
For two months, the Wild Boars football team was trapped in an air pocket in one of the few areas above the water of the winding 10 km Tham Luang Nang Non cave, in northern Thailand. The cave closes every year during the monsoon when it becomes flooded and impassable. On the day the boys, ages 11-16, cycled to the cave entrance, it was open. The date was June 23, 2018, still a month away from the official start of the rainy season. Somehow, Mother Nature didn’t get the memo and once inside Tham Luang an unexpected downpour started, the water rose quickly and the boys found themselves trapped in inside with their 25-year-old trainer.
The documentary allows the main actors to tell the story by tracing the timeline using interspersed sequences to guide the viewer. The Thai Navy Seals were brought in for the rescue operation with the help of US Special Forces, and as the footage shows, they quickly learned they were out of their element. Local Briton and experienced cave diver Vern Unsworth, who was familiar with the serpent-shaped cave system, suggested the government use the world’s best cave explorers to aid in the rescue.
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