10 Incredible True Stories of Survival Adapted Into Films
Something to remind you just what us humans are actually capable of.
1. 127 Hours (2010)
Directed by the enigmatic Danny Boyle, 127 Hours chronicles the gritty tale of Aron Ralston, a canyoneer who gets trapped by a boulder in an isolated Utah canyon. James Franco gives a raw performance that earned him an Oscar nod! Boyle utilized the actual camcorder footage Ralston took while he was trapped. If you're not the squeamish type, watch out for the intense self-amputation scene. Oh, and Franco later said he felt a 'real' arm-break during the shoot. Wild, right?
2. Rescue Dawn (2006)
Helmed by the eccentric Werner Herzog, this biographical war film casts Christian Bale as Dieter Dengler, a U.S. Navy pilot shot down and captured in Laos during the Vietnam War. Bale, known for method acting, lost 55 pounds for the role! Some of Dengler's actual fellow prisoners contested the film's portrayal of events. Amidst the controversies, the breathtaking jungle scenes and Bale's dedication make it worth the watch.
3. The Way Back (2010)
Peter Weir is back at it again, this time telling a story of soldiers escaping from a Siberian gulag during World War II. The film claims to be based on Slavomir Rawicz's memoir The Long Walk, though the book's accuracy remains debated. For added spice: The diverse ensemble includes Ed Harris, Colin Farrell, and Jim Sturgess, each bringing a unique flavor to the intense journey. From Siberia to India, the film's landscapes are a visual treat.
4. Alive (1993)
Stranded in the Andes after a plane crash, the Uruguayan rugby team had to resort to cannibalism to survive. Director Frank Marshall tastefully addresses this touchy subject. Some of the actual survivors served as consultants, ensuring authenticity in the portrayal. The 90s heartthrob Ethan Hawke plays one of the key roles. Can you imagine surviving 72 days in freezing conditions?
5. K2: Siren of the Himalayas (2012)
Less Hollywood but equally gripping, this documentary follows climbers attempting to ascend K2, the second-highest mountain globally, on its 100th discovery anniversary. Some say K2 is even deadlier than Everest. Director Dave Ohlson beautifully captures the camaraderie and rivalry among mountaineers. The sweeping visuals of the Karakoram range are absolutely breathtaking, giving viewers some serious travel (or not) goals!
6. Against the Sun (2014)
This World War II drama focuses on three U.S. Navy airmen stranded in the South Pacific after their plane goes down. No land in sight for miles, their resilience and camaraderie are the core of this gripping tale. Did you know? The film drew comparisons with Unbroken, released the same year, though it remained under the radar. If you're into stories about the triumph of the human spirit, this one's a catch.
7. 6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain (2017)
Josh Hartnett stars as Eric LeMarque, a former hockey player who gets lost while snowboarding during a fierce storm. Battling frostbite, hypothermia, and wolves, it's a race against time and nature. Hartnett himself said filming in the freezing cold was both a challenge and a blessing as it brought authenticity to his portrayal. And guess what? The movie was shot using only natural light!
8. Kon-Tiki (2012)
Based on the 1947 expedition by Thor Heyerdahl, this film showcases the voyage across the Pacific on a wooden raft. Heyerdahl aimed to prove that South Americans could've settled Polynesia in pre-Columbian times. The film is a visual marvel and was Norway's official Oscar entry. A tidbit to impress your friends: the movie was shot simultaneously in Norwegian and English!
9. The 33 (2015)
Reviving the harrowing tale of the 2010 Chilean mine collapse, The 33 presents the dire plight of miners trapped underground for 69 days. Antonio Banderas and Lou Diamond Phillips lead a powerful cast that portrays despair, hope, and unity. Though set in Chile, the movie was filmed in Colombia's Nemocón and Zipaquirá salt mines. This one really brings home the saying, "hope is the last thing to die".
10. Everest (2015)
I know, I know, Everest might sound cliché, but this movie, based on the 1996 disaster, showcases the unpredictable nature of the world's highest peak. The ensemble cast includes Jake Gyllenhaal and Jason Clarke. While some scenes were shot on location in Nepal, others were filmed at the Italian Alps. The combination of real-life survivor accounts and harrowing visuals makes it worth the ticket.