When it comes to the stories that make the biggest headlines, we assume the big news outlets are reporting most of the information accurately. Thankfully, however, documentaries play a big role in developing the entire story from start to finish, making the stories we thought we knew even more captivating, jaw-dropping, or unheard of. National Geographic’s The Rescue is another story we thought we knew, but the entire story is even more unbelievable thanks to the remarkable work, findings, and research by filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, who also made the 2018 Oscar-winning documentary Free Solo.
The Rescue tells the story of the 2018 cave rescue in Tham Luang Nang Non,Thailand, where a junior soccer team was stuck for 18 days. Thanks to the countless hours of work and effort from thousands of people–including divers from all over the world– the soccer team was freed from the cave, despite the loss of two Thai NAVY Seals during the rescue efforts. What we thought we knew was that divers went into the cave and eventually saved the entire team. But what the filmmakers unearth in this documentary shows a much more intense effort that required precise timing to overcome so many obstacles and dangers presented by the cave system. Dealing with constant rain and the fact that the team was so far back in the cave system turned the daunting task of the rescue effort into an around the clock effort.
In The Rescue, we see the recruiting efforts that brought people in from all over who normally only did diving as a hobby while working their every day jobs. We also see some fascinating things like the water pipe system made specifically to pump out all the water resulting from the unusual amount of rainfall during the rescue. Using footage not shown widely by big media outlets, this part of the rescue provided additional insight into the entire operation. Another portion of the documentary that gives a fascinating and appreciative perspective on the rescue were the cultural and religious aspects of the soccer team and their families and the way they kept their faith throughout the 18-day effort. Of course, the diving aspect of The Rescue is the big draw here, and the videos and visuals showing the diving throughout the cave systems can be intense and breathtaking whether you’re watching it on the big screen or at home. If you’re claustrophobic, your anxiety might go up a little.
The Rescue provides more thoughtful insight into a story that is still talked about three years afterwards due to the pulling off of a nearly impossible rescue in a space so cramped and far off the grid. The filmmakers of this documentary tell the entire story from all aspects of the rescue effort while balancing it by showing all the courageous and heroic people that made it possible to rescue the entire team. Intense and insightful while at times putting you on the edge of your seat, The Rescue is another documentary worth diving into to tell more of the widely-known story than we thought we knew. Especially, since it turns out we only knew the surface.