Thirteen Lives on Prime Video traces an incredible cave rescue in Thailand

Vince Valletotti/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Thirteen Lives by Ron Howard tells the incredible true story of rescuing 13 boys from a cave in Thailand in 2018.

Vince Valletotti/Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures

Thirteen Lives by Ron Howard tells the incredible true story of rescuing 13 boys from a cave in Thailand in 2018.

Cinema – 5,000 people from 17 different countries are mobilized to save them. In 2018, 12 young players met with their coach Stranded in Tham Luang Cave in the north from Thailand. 18 days. This is the time they will spend in the dark, waiting for the rescuers who are struggling to save them.

Four years later, the movie thirteen lives Accurately tracks every stage of the rescue. Directed by Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard (Exceptional Man, The Da Vinci Code, Apollo 13), the film, available from Friday, August 5th on Prime Video, pays tribute to those who took part in this unprecedented global effort, sharing their knowledge and experiences.

On June 23, 2018, the ordeal of the young football team began. Due to the early monsoon, the water from the underground river rises rapidly into the cave, forcing the boys to venture more than 4 kilometers from the entrance. Then, there is no sign of life for a week.

Of all the volunteers who came to the aid of the local authorities, two British divers went there. John Volanthen (played by Colin Farrell) and Richard Stanton (played by Viggo Mortensen) are the first to find the young boys… alive, nine days after they disappeared.

John Volanthen and Rick Stanton at the National Geographic Documentary Premiere
Brian Bedder/Getty Images via AFP John Volanthen and Rick Stanton at the premiere of the National Geographic documentary Rescue, recounting their heroic rescue from Tham Luang Cave, October 5, 2021.

Brian Bedder/Getty Images via AFP

John Volanthen and Rick Stanton at the premiere of the National Geographic documentary Rescue, recounting their heroic rescue from Tham Luang Cave, October 5, 2021.

As they were preparing to find only inert bodies, they saw them floating on a bank of sediment after six hours of diving. Only, it is impossible to bring them back at the moment. The divers are forced to turn around to look for reinforcements.

After being anesthetized, the boys lost consciousness during the rescue operation

In fact, from the outside, among the hundreds of experts from all over the world, no one knew how to get them out of there alive. In addition to being extremely dangerous, physical diving requires years of training, and is definitely not an option for kids who haven’t eaten in days.

Keeping them in the cave exposes them to suffocation due to the low level of oxygen in the cave, and drowning during the following rains. But taking them out would also mean killing them.

On July 5, the tragic death of one of the divers dashed their hopes a little more. Saman Junan, a former member of the Thai Navy’s special forces, died after depleting his air supply. If a trained man succumbs to this dive, how do the children survive it?

The British see only one solution: injecting ketamine into the boys to take them, unconscious, to the exit. She’s Australian Richard Harris, a 53-year-old anesthesiologist and diver for more than thirty years, will take charge.

A mission not without risks: a very heavy dose could take their breath away, while a very light dose could cause a rude awakening. into the water, and therefore possible drowning. But once bitten, their bodies are transported like parcels for hours. On July 10, everyone was officially evacuated and taken to Chiang Rai Hospital.

Painful immersion alongside divers

thirteen lives It offers a new view of this highly mediocre story, in the form of agonizing immersion alongside divers, as they find their way through the cavity without any vision.

They’re definitely not afraid of enclosed spaces, and we hope you aren’t, because the photos are enough to make you feel bad. Add to that the sounds of artificial respiration, the sounds of water and minerals hitting the rock: we may not be in this cave, we just want to get out.

The film does not contain any archival images, inside or outside the cave, despite the vast amount of content filmed by the journalists on site. Immersed in the heart of the cavity, in sets reproduced down to the smallest detail, the film allows you to relive an event you thought you knew.

Thai soldiers stationed at Tham Luang Cave, June 26, 2018.
Lillian Swanrumfa/AFP Thai soldiers stationed at Tham Luang Cave, June 26, 2018.

Lillian Swanrumfa/AFP

Thai soldiers stationed at Tham Luang Cave, June 26, 2018.

But Ron Howard remembers many forgotten aspects of this evacuation. In particular, he does not fail to highlight the work of local volunteers, led by a young Thai engineer, who managed to divert more than 210 million liters of water towards the cave. And that’s without forgetting the hundreds of lifeguards who are partly responsible for replenishing the cave’s oxygen reserves.

After a week in the hospital, the 12 boys and their coach were able to return home safely. Within days of their rescue, the cave was completely inundated for 8 months by the monsoon.

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