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THE RESCUE - a National Geographic documentary


Hopefully not too many completely unrelated caving clips sneak into the full documentary. I wasn't expecting to see footage of Huautla appear in that trailer, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't the only clip that was from elsewhere! Looking forward to seeing it though.


If all the underwater clips they showed were from the same cave in the same conditions, it wouldn't make for good watching!


Adventure Journal has an interview with the film-makers Chai Vasarhelyi and her husband Jimmy Chin as well as Rick Stanton: https://www.adventure-journal.com/2021/10/filmmakers-chai-vasarhelyi-and-jimmy-chin-featured-on-nprs-fresh-air/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+adventure-journal+%28adventure+journal%29


Well-known member
Slash Film - A harrowing, captivating, wonderful documentary that perhaps surpasses "Free Solo," at least in terms of emotion. [Made by same people]

RogerEbert.com - It unfolds with stunning precision, letting the people who were there tell the story, and never softening their unique personalities.

You can see where in country it is showing again (furthest SW is currently Bristol): https://www.flicks.co.uk/movie/the-rescue-2021/
Saw this last night in Milton Keynes. Despite the fact that I (and the whole world!) already knew the ending, it was captivating viewing and the story was told with great sensitivity and attention to detail. Highly recommended.


Active member
MarkS said:
PeteHall said:
If all the underwater clips they showed were from the same cave in the same conditions, it wouldn't make for good watching!
Fair point!

I think the trailers had more dramatic cave footage then the actual film - as per the interviews at the end, any of the existing footage was dark and muddy. The balance between re-created shots and live was well done I thought, I found it difficult to tell which was which without thinking about what had been possible.

Duncan Price

Active member
TL;)R great film, go see it.

I was lucky to be invited to the UK premiere of Nation Geographic?s "The Rescue" on Wednesday evening in the Ham Yard Hotel, Soho.  Despite the expense - train ticket to London, finding reasonably priced hotel room (the size of a broom cupboard) nearby and a couple of days leave to make it there & back - I justified it on the basis that it would be a chance to catch up with a lot of friends who I hadn't seen for many years?

Having caught the bus to Bath, I arrived just in time to catch a train to Paddington without waiting.  I decided to walk along Oxford Street from the station to my hotel as I had plenty of time and could do a bit of sightseeing (the "mound" at Marble Arch looks a bit like the spoil heap from our dig at Hallowe'en rift).  Passing Wardour Street I realised that the Soho Hotel was just down the road and as this was where Rick, John & the others were staying so I popped down and texted Connor Roe to say that I was outside.  I got a reply that he and Rick were having lunch just around the corner, so I joined them and was pleasantly surprised that Karen Dealy (the true author of "Aquanaut" - Rick's book about the rescue and his caving exploits) had flow over from the US and was with them.  After a quick pint I went back to their hotel and sat in on an interview between some journo and Rick & John.

Having found my hotel near Tottenham Court Station I got changed into "smart casual" and went to a pub just around the corner from the screening venue to meet up with Rick and a lot of our mutual friends from Coventry - most of whom I had not seen for over 20 years.  We decamped to the venue and after the formalities of showing a COVID pass and having your temperature taken we were in without further ado.  It was packed and only the bar staff were wearing face coverings as they handed out champagne. There was a strong contingent from the British Cave Rescue Council and representatives (in uniform) from the Thai military.  I was nearly last into the auditorium for the screening and had to sit upstairs in balcony seats where I got a very good view.

The film is excellent ? with contributions from all those involved ? British, Australian, American, other Europeans and of course the Thai?s (subtitled).  None of the kids were featured as they are signed to Netflix, though there was the footage of them in Chamber 9 (with unseen material recently sourced).  The reconstructions shot in Pinewood of the children (actors) being sedated (by the real divers) and dived out are blended seamlessly with real-life material.  None of the rescuers are actors so they demonstrated what they did to the camera and there was voice over of them describing what was going on.  Although the outcome is well known, suspense is maintained until the end as there is high drama on some of the recoveries.  There were several funny remarks that had the audience laughing and some moments that were quite emotional.  I had been present when some of the supporting footage was shot Wookey Hole Caves ? there?s a lot of stuff which must have ended up on the cutting room floor.  The only bit that I thought was a bit strange was the song and Oliver Postgate-style animation squeeze before the final credits.

Many of the people who were in Thailand contributed to the documentary were there for the screening: Vern Unsworth, Rob Harper, Josh Bratchley, Jim Warney, Derek Anderson, Mike Clayton, Connor, John & Rick.  Sadly, Jason Mallinson couldn?t make it to the screening (tonsillitis) and Craig Challen & Richard Harris stayed in Australia.  There was a live Q&A session afterwards with scripted questions being delivered to one of the directors (Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi), the producer (Thanet Natisri), Rick & John.  This saved the embarrassment of having to field awkward questions from the audience (it has happened at previous screenings).  Chai and Thanet gave most illuminating responses to the mechanics of making the film (inherited from another producer), especially under the constraints of COVID.  Peter Dennis (chairman of BCRC) was called upon the stage and presented with a cheque for ?15,000 from Chai on behalf of National Geographic with the money going to support rescue teams in funding equipment and training.
Then it was back to the venue bar for (more) free booze, nibbles, and chat until we were booted out at 11pm, so we had to decamp to the Soho Hotel bar (until that shut at midnight).  Fortunately, the hotel had a trust bar in an adjoining room which the hard-core socialisers occupied.  I departed for my hotel at 2:30 am just as things were getting messy and everyone was drinking shorts?

The next day I had a craving for a fry-up and walked back to Paddington via a different route to sight see and clear my head.  I reflected on transition from being in London to returning to rural Somerset was quite marked as I covered the last few miles home a double decker bus squeezing along a narrow tree-lined lane between fields of sheep?

It?s a great documentary film ? even if you?ve read all the books on the subject and know those involved ? and I had a great time going to London to view it.  I?m very grateful to john Volanthen for inviting me and offering to let me have his quota of drinks (he?s teetotal) as an enticement.  I hope I lived up to his expectations ? the event certainly exceeded mine.


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Well-known member
Went to Manchester last night to watch it as it's too wet for caving.

It was a very good documentary, I loved how the divers all had in common being odd ones out at school and no good at team sports. Very relatable, I would bet it's very common amungst cavers in general.

I like that they managed to use a lot of real footage, the re-created footage was quite easy to spot as you can see where they are going, I imagine and was stated in the film that visibility in all that flood water was next to 0.

I did notice right at the beginning where it showed the water flowing down a shaft, can I wezzit it and guess that was Diccan pot?


We watched it in Bristol on Thursday night. It certainly didn't disappoint.

Alex said:
I did notice right at the beginning where it showed the water flowing down a shaft, can I wezzit it and guess that was Diccan pot?

It looked familiar, but I couldn't place it at the time. I'm struggling to picture it again now, but in my memory it didn't look like Diccan. Might very well be wrong on that though...

Duncan Price

Active member
Available to purchase on DVD and Blu-Ray from a well-known online store (other purchase options are available) due to be released Jan 10th 2022.