When you hear the name of the ‘Wild Boars’ soccer team, it takes all of us back to one of the most significant cave rescues in history. It is hard to imagine that all of the events in this mission occurred back in 2018. Yet, it was an international operation that captured people's attention from every part of the world for three weeks.
To remind everyone of the events, the story centres on the excursion of a boys football team of 12 players, aged 11-16, and their 25-year-old coach who ventured to a local tourist destination. After training, they explored a local cave in Northern Thailand, unaware that a torrential downpour would occur while walking along the cave floor and how the waters would trap the team inside. This harrowing situation was brought to the attention of the authorities late that evening and things progressed to see how the boys could be saved from their dire fate. As governmental officials, the military and the local community come to terms with what has happened, things progress to recruit some of the world’s best cave divers to assist with the operation.
The Cave cuts a fine line between a compelling drama and a documentary by director Tom Waller. He films on location with many of the actual participants in this ‘against the odds’ story. With his Thai heritage as a motivation, Waller captures the chaotic and immersive atmosphere of the rescue that begins with the boys entering the cave and their eventual deliverance three weeks later. Throughout this tenuous experience, audiences can show how piecemeal every aspect was of this mission. From getting water pumps for emptying portions of the cave to the journey many divers took to assist with this life-saving expedition.
Some of the actual divers and volunteers were part of this production. At the same time, Thai actor Ekawat Niratworapanya plays the football coach. Interestingly, Irish diver Jim Warny, Canadian cave diver Erik Brown and Finnish cave diver Mikko Paasi play themselves. All Australians looking for their Aussie divers, Richard Harris and Australian of the Year - Craig Challen, are represented by actors in the film.
Despite incorporating a documentary method, there is no narrative overlay to explain each maddening scene. This filmmaking choice forces viewers to remain intensely engaged and eventually envelopes them as they watch things unfold on screen. All adding to the experience , but making the story arch challenging to follow at points. There is little explanation of what is developing within the cave and its surroundings. Still, it does expose how incredible this operation was and how this was indeed a global initiative that thankfully proved to be one of the best feel-good stories of the decade. By capitalising on the emotionally charged aspects of this situation, this film is ideally suited for those who desire to see the intricate and bizarre nature of everything that surrounded this historical event.
REEL DIALOGUE: What do I do with my fears?
When engaging with films like The Cave, it is unavoidable that thoughts go to people’s greatest fears. Claustrophobia, losing your family or even how you would respond if you were caught in a cave for three weeks.
Are any of these things a fear for you? Even if you do not have an anxiety of dark and wet spaces, how about the fear of death? Or how this inevitably can happen at any time and seemingly in unexpected ways?
To allow fear to rule life is to put faith in the ‘what could be’ of life, leading to mental, emotional or physical paralysis for many. Fear means to focus on what may or may not happen, which even existed in people of the Bible. Moses, Gideon, Esther and more had to work through their fears.
The answer to this is to not focus on the ‘what could be’ of life. No, it is to look to the God of the universe for solace and strength. Jesus is the one who defeated death and offers freedom from fear through his life and words. The Apostle Paul writes of this when addressing the concern of a young disciple named Timothy. Read through these words and know that they answer where we should all put our fears. The answer to fear