Thirteen Lives: The Rescue: The Real Story Behind the Amazon Prime Movie

Thirteen Lives: The Rescue is the new movie from Amazon Prime Video. In recent days, the feature has attracted attention and at the moment, leads the Top 10 of the service in Brazil. The film follows the story of a young football team and its coach who are trapped in a cave.

However, the story of Thirteen Lives: The Rescue shows that the situation tends to get even more complicated. After all, as the days go by, heavy rains flood the place, making the situation even more chaotic. Thus, the film shows the rescue efforts that bring people from all corners of the world together to create a way to bring young people home.

Directed by Ron Howard, the survival drama film examines the incident from all angles. However, it focuses on what collaborative rescue missions are often like. As the spotlight falls on a single person or their team, other forces are at work in the background.

Thirteen Lives: The Rescue makes any viewer shiver. However, if you question if, everything that was covered in the movie is really real, here is the full story.

Thirteen Lives: The Rescue is it based on a true story?

Getting straight to the point, yeah, Thirteen Lives: The Rescue is based on a true story. The film revolves around the Wild Boars team and their coach, who were trapped in the Tham Luang cave in northern Thailand. Such an event occurred after the site was flooded due to heavy rains at the time.

On June 23, 2018, the team and coach decided to explore the caves after training. In fact, this was something common and they had already done it other times. They were aware that the caves flooded during the rainy season, but heavy rain was expected to come some time later.

Unfortunately, the rain came earlier this year. As a result, the team and their coach ended up trapped inside the cave, as the only way to avoid drowning. When none of the boys came home at night, the parents became restless. The way out was to summon head coach Nopparat Khanthavong.

On the other hand, as we see in Thirteen Lives: The Rescue, Songpol Kanthawong, a boy who had gone on a consultation, reported on the caves. Upon arriving at the scene, they found their bicycles, personal belongings, as well as water blocking the way.

Khanthavong knew his team was trapped underwater and asked authorities for help. In the early days, the Thai Navy and locals tried to find ways to get the boys out of the cave.

worldwide mobilization

Unfortunately, none of the Thai authorities were able to reach the trapped team. So the country requested international assistance, asking that anyone who knew anything about cave diving could help with the rescue. This led cave divers from all over the world to Thailand.

interpreted in Thirteen Lives: The Rescue by Viggo Mortensen and Colin Farrell, British divers Rick Stanton and John Volanthen led the work. The duo was also helped by Belgian Ben Reymenants and French Maksym Polejaka.

Initially, nothing was found for the first few days. Hope faded as the oxygen level dropped in the caves. It was not until the 9th that the two men found the 13 survivors. They were about a mile from the cave entrance.

From there, a second phase of operations began. There was no easy way to get them out of the cave safely. Having been trapped there for over a week, the boys were weak. Also, none of them had any diving experience. Finally, there wasn’t that much time to wait, as heavy rains would come in the next few days. Thus, it would be practically impossible to remove them.

The Rescue of the Boys Thirteen Lives: The Rescue


Image: Publicity/Amazon Prime Video

Lived by Joel Edgerton in Thirteen Lives: The Rescue, The Doctor. Richard Harris was called. Harris – who was renamed in the film to Harry Harris – has extensive experience with anesthetics. The plan was to sedate the boys and then bring them in strapped on flexible stretchers. Harris wasn’t sure the plan would work.

To National Geographic, in 2019, the doctor said:

“I expected the first two kids to drown and then we would have to do something different. I put your chances of survival at zero.”

Even at such a risk, he knew there was no better way to do it. The boys were given a combination of sedatives. Medicines like Ketamine and Xanax were applied. As a result, the boys became unconscious and allowed the divers to safely handle them out of the caves.

Fortunately, the plan worked and as we saw in Thirteen Lives: The Rescue, survived. However, some rescuers lost their lives in the process. The operation was widely captured by the media as an internationally known event.

The changes for the movie

Ron Howard, the film’s director, stated that he had ample source material at his disposal. But, he discovered a lot more about the rescue while making the movie. He realized that there were several other hidden elements in the story. Certainly the biggest is the thousands of rescuers and volunteers who worked during the rescue days.

In addition, thousands of soldiers, hundreds of divers and many other volunteers kept the operation going. That is, although the media has largely highlighted the pair of divers, several people were literally saviors at the time.

The co-producer of Thirteen Lives: The Rescue Vorakorn Reutaivanichkul told The Guardian:

“We really didn’t want another white savior narrative. Not just because we’ve seen it so many times in movies, but because that’s not what happened. The film is exciting about what humans do in a crisis, which is, I think, what we need in this modern world.”

Howard also made it clear what he wanted to do. The director specializes in themes of claustrophobia, impending disaster and coming together to save the day. So he wanted to keep the film’s structure as authentic as possible. But in a way, he didn’t want a documentary. To Deadline, Howard said:

“Documents should be as comprehensive and informative as possible. Scripted versions of true events also have this to offer, and yet their promise also includes something more. It involves engaging the audience’s nervous system, relating and connecting to these characters and their circumstances.”

Thirteen Lives: The Rescue had divers

Thirteen Lives: The Rescue Featured Real-History Divers
Image: Publicity/Amazon Prime Video

Rick Stanton and Jason Mallinson, the cave divers who worked tirelessly during the rescue, also participated in the production of Thirteen Lives: The Rescue. They were invited to understand all the steps involved in the rescue.

As no footage of the rescue was taken, Stanton and Mallinson helped bring out more details about the prospect. This gave the filmmakers an idea of ​​the challenges they faced inside the caves without any visibility. At the same time, they helped the stuntmen in the challenging scenes.

Finally, Howard also wanted an authentic portrayal of the local culture. The story takes place in northern Thailand and the actors were guaranteed to get the dialect right. Howard stated:

“I don’t speak Thai and yet it was vitally important that the culture was represented in a very authentic way. It required me to replace some very talented people in the process.”

In this way, several professionals such as farmers and government officials were cited. After all, all of them were important for the boys to return home safe.

So did you like Thirteen Lives: The Rescue?

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