Films based on real life events have a certain appeal that captivates the audience. Stories that authentically depict the struggles and determination of significant individuals give an awe-inspiring feeling to viewers as it resonates deeper, leaving an unforgettable impression. The list below contains a variety of stories that portray life’s unpredictableness that sparks inspiration, showcasing to viewers their potential to achieve even the unimaginable.
1. The Impossible (2013)
The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami ruined the holidays for the people of Thailand. María Belón and husband Enrique, along with their three sons, Lucas, Simón, and Tomás, had set their Christmas trip at the Orchid Beach resort when a lethal tsunami made a huge impact on their location, turning their vacation into a mode of survival. The film focuses on each member of the family, as it portrays their struggles in the catastrophe while being separated in the chaotic aftermath, and the family’s miraculous reunion despite the odds. María Belón worked directly with screenwriter Sergio G. Sánchez to guarantee the authenticity of their calamitous story, which resulted in the film’s success, receiving several awards and praises for the striking performance of the actress Naomi Watts and actor Tom Holland.
2. Everest (2015)
In 1996, two expedition teams attempted to reach the summit of Mount Everest. They encounter a series of unfortunate events, including a snowstorm that puts their mettle to the ultimate test. The climbers are faced with obstacles that leave them with difficult decisions, resulting in the misfortune of the other climbers. The film is an adaption of Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air (1997) and Beck Weathers, the only survivor of the Everest expedition, released his autobiographical book, Left For Dead: My Journey Home from Everest (2000) which narrates his life-changing ordeal.
3. The Way Back (2010)
Set in the World War II era, Janusz is imprisoned in a remote Siberian labor camp with barbaric conditions and is determined to make a breakout. A blizzard appears as a window of opportunity for his escape, along with a small group of fellow prisoners. Upon their successful escape, the runaways are faced with the difficulty that lies ahead, a 4,000 mile trek to India through the frozen Himalayas. The movie is based on Sławomir Rawicz's memoir The Long Walk (1956) which depicts his escape from a Siberian Gulag.
4. North Face (2008)
In 1936, two former German army officers resigned from their military service to pursue their career as alpinists, and are determined to ascend the Eiger, a dangerous and unclimbed north face of the Swiss Massif, located in the Alps. After a horrendous turn of events, the pair are forced to work alongside Austrian climbers, the opposing team, for their survival and safe descendance.
5. Lone Survivor (2013)
Based on the 2007 nonfiction book by Marcus Luttrell and Patrick Robinson, the story focuses on the failed United States Navy Seals counter-insurgent mission, Operation Red Wings, which consists of a four-man team in Afghanistan. The plot begins when the team is accidentally discovered by local goat herders. Due to their mistake of setting the locals free, the Taliban begin persuading the soldiers, ruining their initial mission. Two rescue helicopters come to their aid but tragedy strikes which ruins their last hope for survival, leaving Marcus Luttrell the only remaining survivor outnumbered.
6. 12 Years a Slave (2013)
Long before the Civil War, Solomon Northup was a free black man living in New York as a violinist, together with his wife and two children. Northup was deceived by two white men who offered him employment as a musician, but instead drugged and sold him to slaveholders. Northup desperately seeks for ways to send a message to his family and friends in New York, only to be betrayed and passed to other wealthy white men. Bound by fate, Northup encounters a Canadian laborer who helps him regain his freedom. 12 years of being a slave, Northup is reunited with his wife, his fully grown son and daughter, along with his daughter’s husband, and a grandson whom he share the same name. Twelve years a slave is an 1853 memoir written by David Wilson.
7. The Pianist (2002)
The film focuses on a holocaust survivor, Władysław Szpilman, a Polish-Jewish pianist playing live on the radio in September 1939, when the station is suddenly bombed. Soon after, Szpilman along with his family are forced to leave their home into the isolated Warsaw Ghetto. Szpilman becomes a slave labourer and dicovers a Jewish Revolution in the making, he took part by smuggling guns into the ghetto to help the rebellion, which unfortunately failed twice. Szpilman flees from different vacant shelters to avoid being discovered, resulting in his malnutrition and begins to suffer from jaundice, until he is rescued by Wilm Hosenfeld, a German officer who disagrees with the policies and treatment of the Nazis towards the Polish and Jewish people and felt sympathy for the victims, and offered his help whenever possible. The biographical war drama film received numerous awards and announced Adrien Brody as Best Actor from the Academy Awards, making him the youngest actor to win the award at the age of twenty nine.
8. 127 Hours (2010)
Adapted from the book Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston, the author and the avid mountaineer that the film portrays. Ralston goes on a life-changing trek when he decides to embark on a solo hike without informing family members or friends. While climbing in a slot canyon located in the BlueJohn Canyon, a boulder he hangs onto suddenly comes loose and causes Ralston to fall and trap his right arm against a wall. He is left with only 300 ml of water, two burritos, and a few chunks of chocolate to ration for the next few days. Ralston uses his camcorder as a video diary to maintain his sanity, as he unsuccessfully chips away at the huge boulder with a pocket knife. Desperate, depressed, and delusional about his life, he decides to slowly amputate his arm using a tourniquet and a multi-tool, and wraps the stump to prevent exsanguination. He continues to slowly descend and spots a Dutch family who comes to his aid.
9. The Revenant (2015)
The film describes the jaw-dropping experiences of frontiersman Hugh Glass in 1823. Glass guides survivors on a journey after an ambush by an Arikara tribe in their camp. While he scouts for a game, he is suddenly attacked by a bear which leaves him barely alive. The group decides to leave him together with his son, Hawk, and two other men, Bridger and Fitzgerald, to bury him until his final hour. Unknowingly, Fitzgerald betrays Glass and murders his son, leaving him for dead. Glass, determined with vengeance, slowly finds his way to civilization with the help of a Pawnee refugee to regain his strength. The film is an adaptation of Michael Punke’s The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge and has received three Golden Globe Awards and landed Leonardo DiCaprio his first Academy Award for Best Actor..
10. The Blind Side (2009)
The Blind Side illustrates the story of American football player Michael Oher, and is an adaptation of a novel of the same name by Michael Lewis. Seventeen-year-old Michael Oher is a struggling homeless black teen due to his mother’s drug addiction. A friend of his father, Tony Hamilton, helps enroll Michael at Wingate Christian School and impresses the football coach with his athleticism. Michael soon befriends Sean Tuohy, whose mother takes the responsibility to give Michael a proper home. The Tuohys become his legal guardians and guide him to pursue his dreams as a professional football player, by providing a tutor to improve his academics for admission to the University of Mississippi. Michael Oher was soon drafted by the Baltimore Ravens at the 2009 NFL draft.
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Did you know
Haley Joel Osment, the boy who delivered The Sixth Sense’s famous line “I see dead people,” got the role for one of three reasons: He was the best choice for it, he was the only boy who wore a tie in the auditions, and he impressed director M. Night Shyamalan for reading the whole script three times the night before the auditions.
The scene where Sadako comes out of the well did not use any special effects in the original Japanese horror installation of Ringu (1998). Actress Rie Ino’o was a student of the Kabuki theatre known for exaggerating movement and jerking motions to convey emotions. During the shoot, the production filmed Ino’o walking backward and ran the scene in reverse, making Sadako’s walk seem unnatural and nonhuman.
Lupita Nyong’o in Us (2019) based her character Red’s voice on Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s spasmodic dysphonia, a disorder that causes involuntary spasms of the larynx. This is to remain in character as Red as it was stated in the script that she had not used her voice in many years. Lupita worked with an ENT specialist, a vocal therapist, and a dialect coach so as not to damage her vocal cords. Welp, that’s a Yale drama school graduate for you.
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