With the release of fascinating documentary Erebus: Into The Unknown at UK cinemas today (and on DVD/On Demand from Jan 12th), we check out 7 great examples of human courage in the face of real-life tragedy.
The award-winning documentary Erebus: Into The Unknown arrives at UK cinemas today. This deeply moving film follows a team of New Zealand police offices who head to the Antarctica after a plane crash as part of the investigation team. As the group recover the victims, focus shifts to how a plane could fly into a mountain in broad daylight. Inspired by the documentary, Top 10 Films looks at seven films that capture the bravery, humanity, loss, spirit and experiences of some of the world’s most disastrous real-life situations.
Erebus: Into the Unknown (Charlotte Purdy & Peter Berger, 2015)
An award-winning documentary telling the story of four New Zealand police officers who went to Antarctica as part of the police operation to recover the victims of a major commercial jet crash. On 28 November 1979, an Air New Zealand jet with 257 passengers went missing during a sightseeing tour over Antarctica. Within hours, 11 ordinary police officers were called to duty to face the formidable Mount Erebus. As the police recovered the victims, an investigation team tried to uncover the mystery of how a jet could fly into a mountain in broad daylight.
Touching the Void (Kevin Macdonald, 2003)
In 1985 two young climbers attempted to reach the summit of Siula Grande in Peru; a feat that had previously been attempted but never achieved. With an extra man looking after base camp, Simon Yates and Joe Simpson set off to scale the mount over several days. Both men successfully reach the peak, but on the descent Joe goes out on an overhang, forcing Simon to cut the rope that attaches them to each other. Assuming him dead, Simon continues back down. But Joe survives the fall, and must find a way to reach the bottom. This is the true story of their harrowing journey and how Joe got back down.
The Impossible (J.A. Bayona, 2012)
A British family on Christmas holiday at a beach resort in Thailand is torn apart when a deadly tsunami devastates the area. With critically acclaimed performances by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, The Impossible is based on the harrowing experiences of Maria Belón and her family, who were caught in the destruction and chaotic aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Boxing Day tsunami. The film follows the seriously wounded Maria and her eldest son Lucas as they struggle to safety, not knowing whether Maria’s husband and their two younger sons are dead or alive.
127 Hours (Danny Boyle, 2010)
Nominated for six Academy Awards, 127 Hours is the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston’s remarkable adventure to save himself after a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolated canyon in Utah. Over a five-day period, Ralston examines his life and survives the elements to finally discover he has the courage and the wherewithal to extricate himself by any means necessary – no matter how extreme. Throughout his journey, Ralston recalls friends, lovers, family, and the two hikers he met before his accident.
Into the Wild (Sean Penn, 2007)
Adapted from the 1996 non-fiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild tells the true story of fresh college graduate Christopher McCandless, who abandons his possessions to live in the Alaskan wilderness. Venturing with little food and equipment, and hoping to live simply for a time in solitude, McCandless ultimately falls victim to the elements when he becomes trapped in the bush. What happened to him on the way transformed this young wanderer into an enduring symbol for countless people – a fearless risk-taker who wrestled with the precarious balance between man and nature.
United 93 (Paul Greengrass, 2006)
A critically acclaimed real-time account of the final flight of United 93, one of the planes that was hijacked on 9/11 and ultimately crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers overpowered the terrorists on board. The film was made with the cooperation of all of the passengers’ families, and chronicles – with as much veracity possible – the events, experiences and actions of those on the plane from takeoff until its tragic crash.
Open Water (Chris Kentis, 2003)
Based on the true story of American couple, Tom and Eileen Lonergan, who were accidentally left at sea in 1998 during a dive-boat expedition on the Great Barrier Reef, Open Water tells the terrifying tale of two lovers struggling to survive and maintain sanity in shark infested waters after their tour boat abandons them.