Thirteen Lives: Quick Commentary

No spoilers, just vibes.

I’ve seen a video or two on Thirteen Lives where director Ron Howard mentions not going to ridiculous lengths to soup up the film’s story, and I’ve gotta say. That was one of the best things about the movie.

Apart from a documentary, Thirteen Lives probably marks the first time that I’ve seen a real story told truthfully in a scripted film—or at least, as truthfully as it can be in two and a half hours. I was relieved to see that while watching, I didn’t have to endure any manufactured Hollywood BS. The film’s producers seemed to be genuinely interested in presenting an honest depiction of the people of Thailand and what they went through in 2018. Back then, the story of how a team of young Thai soccer players was rescued from a flooded cave grabbed headlines around the world.

Thus far, the only major differences I’ve read about between the real cave rescue and the film’s contents relate to the number of divers actually used and the amount of visibility that they had while working in the caves.

In the past I’ve seen my share of movies that are “based on a true story” only to be disappointed by the changes producers and directors made in an attempt to woo audiences. More than once I’ve looked into the source material for said movies and thought, “The real story is drama enough.” I hope that Thirteen Lives’ artistry and success will inspire the people who work behind the scenes in entertainment to consider the fact that real life is intriguing enough on its own. There’s no need to manufacture nonsense in order to impress anyone.

I certainly felt this with the true story of what took place in the Tham Luang cave. There’s a significant detail from the real-life rescue mission that was used as a plot point in the film. It’s something that people in the general public might not have been aware of. And that detail provided me with plenty of suspense all on its own, without any window dressing.

Undeniably, people love to go to the movies in order to escape or immerse themselves in a fantasy. Yet when it comes to real events, you don’t have to lie in order to make a story interesting. Do your best in the retelling, and the truth will sell itself.

Image via Jakob Owens on Unsplash





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