September 29, 2022

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Ron Howard's "Thirteen Lives"

Ron Howard’s “Thirteen Lives”

For starters, listen to this music, necessarily using good headphones:

There are a few of these movies that pulsate the hours and days after watching them. There are very few good movies where there are no bad guys. Films filled with optimistic and deeply humanistic images of our earthly pilgrimage.

It is a delicate matter and requires a real magician to show the man in all his glory on screen. And according to many religious messages, glory is almost divine, because we were created in the image and likeness. Although many do not believe in this, and many simply forget, it is worth at least to believe that we can be good, always and in every situation serving our neighbor.

How do you make a movie that shows the good in all of us, so that that movie isn’t a nice “candy”, which is often the case, or a hideous sermon from the pulpit?

Well, so be it! I’ll start with the superlatives before I finish with the praise.

I saw a movie like this recently. This is a very idealistic and humane picture of people, where you won’t see intrusive tutorials and sweet and cheap emotional gimmicks. The movie was played bravely, though frugally by a group of actors who ditched their Hollywood starring for the movie’s superheroes. A slightly aloof and therefore warm image of ordinary people, with whom Superman himself should be ashamed, because they surpassed him with courage and humility without “superpower”.

I don’t know if director Ron Howard was guided by Jesus’ proverb – “Don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,” but only those guys, wholly unconcerned, portrayed him in his last movie. In Poland, this film got the title: “Thirteen Lives”. I would like to translate this title “Thirteen Beings”, in my opinion it sounds better and reflects the meaning of the message of the film’s story.

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And this is not a made-up story in the writer’s head, it is based on real events that took place in Thailand when monsoon rains cut off a group of children in one of the largest caves in the country.

I’ve watched many productions about disasters and rescues, and deliberately scornfully call them productions, because they crash over blocks, intensely coloured, and frightening.

But not with Ron Howard such numbers, he is an old maven and an experienced filmmaker, and with age he gains wisdom and draws conclusions from what he once photographed. He was the director of “Beautiful Mind”, but also of the successful “Apollo 13”. However, in “Apollo 13” he took part in the adaptation of this story by Hollywood specialists, sometimes making this film full of intense pathos. In Howard’s most recent “Collected Movie Clicker” by taking the reins of pity and…and in my opinion, a masterpiece appeared.

This masterpiece would not have been possible without great acting. All the actors are to be commended, but I’ll start with two.

I remember Viggo Peter Mortensen not only from The Lord of the Rings, but also from the exciting and fantastic film Hidalgo – Ocean of Fire. In Howard, he played a retired firefighter and cave diver. Whoever knows this society knows that professional divers are people with iron nerves, calm, wise and “three-dimensional thinkers”. Thus, the term 3D is used to treat people with problems in life, as the treatment is performed underwater during a series of dives. This method was developed by a friend of mine, a man with the highest qualifications as an instructor, deep sea diver, and instructor of scuba diving instructors. I liked its quietness and order, and I thought a bit like good pilots think, but as far as we pilots feel overloaded, the aquatic environment provides a state of near weightlessness. This slight difference constitutes, in experienced divers, the way of thinking before each movement, because the state of weightlessness is unusual for the human locomotor system. We can feel a good diver by observing the behavior of these people in daily life. I don’t know if Mortensen dives himself, but he plays in concerts using simple means and not “overdoing” the role.

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Colin Farrell is perfectly engaged, playing a cunning thinker who plays a hero with no intention of being a hero.

Well, in a good tale of knights there are at least three, although it is known that there must be four. Howard followed this path, completing the rest of the actors who formed the core of his film’s story. Joel Edgerton and Tom Bateman join Varela and Mortensen.

Edgerton plays the anesthetic diver, and Bateman is a diver who undergoes an “emergency baptism” during the operation. These are powerful scenes, but they are played without a trace of pathetic.

Actors from Thailand are not the background to this story, but the World League One.