After their Oscar-winning movie Free Solo, about a daredevil rock climber, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin found an even more remarkable true story for their next film—the rescue of a boys’ soccer team from a Thai cave in 2018.
The husband-and-wife team had watched transfixed with the rest of the world as amateur divers, Navy SEALS and hundreds of volunteers pulled off a seemingly impossible rescue through miles of dark, perilous, flooded caves.
Once the 12 boys and their coach had been plucked miraculously from their subterranean prison, the documentary makers teamed with National Geographic to tell the inside story in The Rescue, out in theaters Oct. 8.
“It moved us as humans, as Asian parents, and as storytellers. I think that this really is one of the great stories of the last 10 years,” Vasarhelyi told AFP.
The directors sifted through 87 hours of never-before-seen footage — obtained from the Thai Navy Seals after two years’ of negotiations during which military chiefs “said no in every possible form of ‘no’,” Chin recalled.
“For me it wasn’t fair—if it existed the world needed to see it,” said Vasarhelyi.
The behind-the-scenes footage shows the euphoric moment two British divers returned to the cave’s entrance with news they had located the children, and the precarious pulley contraption used to transfer them on stretchers out of the final cavern.
But the film focuses mainly on the personalities and backstories of the rescue’s unlikely heroes.
The rag-tag group of middle-aged hobbyists’ unique skillsets and homemade equipment enabled them to reach sections of the cave that military divers could not begin to fathom.