spoiler ALERT! This post is based on important plot points and real-life events from the new Amazon movie “Thirteen Lives”.
Ron Howard is back with another true survival story.
In “Thirteen Lives” (streaming in theaters now and on Amazon Prime), “Apollo 13” The directors follow British diving experts Richard Stanton (Vigo Mortensen) and John Volenthen (Colin Farrell), who along with an international team of divers rescued 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave in Thailand in 2018.
“It wasn’t a situation where results were guaranteed. In fact, heartbreak was more likely,” says Howard. “I was very interested in his play.”
Howard and screenwriter Will Nicholson break down the film’s most surprising fictional and real-life moments:
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Did the football team meditate inside the cave?
The football team was trapped for more than two weeks before being rescued. In an early scene in the cave, the boys’ coach (James Terdon Supapunpinyo) guides them through Buddhist meditation, telling them that they have fear in their mind.
“By all accounts,[he meditated]often, and it was very creative and very important,” Howard says.
Although it was initially just referenced in the script, Howard says he wanted “an opportunity to see this attention.” So Nicholson wrote a scene in the cave where “the kids are starting to panic” and “you can see the coach calming them down.”
Were good luck bracelets a real thing?
Before the rescue begins, a trapped boy’s mother (Patrakorn “Ploy” Tungsupkul) gives Rick and John a bag of red beaded bracelets for good luck. Rick puts his bracelet in his pocket, saying that he “doesn’t believe in fate”, but agrees to give them to the other divers and the boys on their missions.
Although Ploy’s character is a composite of multiple parents, the bracelets themselves were genuine: “It was an amazing discovery,” Nicholson says. “He was blessed by a Buddhist monk,” and divers placed him on the boys’ wrists before swimming out of the cave.
At the end of the film, Rick returns to England and empties his pockets. He rediscovers her bracelet and stops to stare at it. “It’s up to you (wonder), ‘Did they think there was some power in this?’ Nicholson says.
Were the boys really given injections of ketamine?
Given how vulnerable the boys were, and the length of time they had to swim out of the cave, the only option for divers was to take the boys underwater using anesthetics.
Prior to the rescue, Harry Harris (Joel Edgerton), an anesthetist and cave diver, explains his plan to the local governor (Sahaj Boothnakit) and they are expecting few casualties. The governor replies, “Nobody should know about the method you proposed, not even the parents.”
It’s true that “parents never knew,” Nicholson says. And those who did “were very concerned about it because if it went wrong, it was a man-made intervention that would have been killing them. That risk was catastrophic.”
Which drug and how much to inject was a challenge in itself: if the boys were given too much, their respiratory systems could shut down; If they were given too little, they could wake up underwater and drown.
“There were three drugs,” Nicholson says. “He had a tranquilizer to calm him down. Then he had a medicine to dry the saliva in his mouth so that he wouldn’t suffocate when he was unconscious. And then there was the anesthetic ketamine, and that was a lot. As you see in the movie , (the divers) had to re-administer ketamine several times because it was a journey of (about six hours) and the ketamine would keep them completely unconscious for one to two hours.”
Did Harry really take over for another dive?
Divers used a guide rope to guide them in the right direction through the cave’s winding passageways. At the end of the rescue in the film, Rick finds the diver. Chris (Tom Bateman) hides out on some rocks in the cave with an unconscious boy, after catching a wrong cable and fearing that he has lost his way.
After talking with Rick, Harry willingly takes the boy for the rest of the trip, which Chris reluctantly accepts. (“I think you did the hardest thing,” Harry tells him. “Why don’t I do the last part?”)
“I don’t know if the exact conversation happened—I made it up—but I do know that every beat[of that position]happened,” says Nicholson. “Harry took the boy and Chris felt terrible. He felt he had failed because he was the only one who hadn’t accomplished his mission, but everyone[the other divers]were incredibly helpful to him.”
How long did they actually have until the cave flooded again?
Howard says he wanted to highlight the Thai people’s rescue efforts and “improvised problem-solutions”: splitting bamboo in half to make pipes that would carry water from caves, and to pump water to their fields. will give up.
The title card at the end of the film states that “volunteers pulled an estimated 56 million gallons of water from the cave” and that “government compensation was offered to farmers who suffered losses.”
Another card shows that just days after the rescue operation was completed, monsoon rains left the cave “completely submerged for eight months”. The film depicts a race against time to complete the mission before the cave floods again.
“They had three days to get them out, and they knew the monsoon was coming,” says Nicholson. “On the second night of the rescue, it rained heavily and the caves began to overwater. It made the last day very stressful, and once they got them all out, they couldn’t get back inside.” went away.
“I mean, you couldn’t really invent it — that’s exactly what happened.”