A docudramatic account of the 2010 Chilean mine disaster is presented, where the thirty-three miners who went into the San José Mine in Copiapó, Chile in the middle of the Atacama Desert on August 5 were trapped 700 meters underground for sixty-nine days, with all thirty-three eventually able to make it out of the mine alive. That day, mine foreman, Luis "Don Lucho" Urzúa, reported his concerns to mine owner, Carlos Castillo, about the unstable nature of the mountain under which the mine is located, those concerns which went unheeded. Don Lucho one of the thirty-three, went to work as usual into the mine, when that instability led to collapse in some of the underground shafts, the thirty-three who were able to make it to the refuge area, however with communication channels to the surface inoperable. Under normal circumstances, the refuge area had enough supplies to last thirty men three days. The miners also discovered that the company had failed to place the requisite ladders from ...Written by
In the opening scene, Alex Vega wears Universidad de Chile's commemorative Copa Sudamericana shirt. This soccer team won its first (and only) Cup in 2012, 2 years after the events take place (2010). See more »
Greetings again from the darkness. How do you structure a film based on a true story that lasted 69 days, occurred 5 years ago, and was followed live on TV by half of the global population? Director Patricia Riggen (Girl in Progress, 2012) delivers a film designed to tug on heartstrings, and is based on the book "Deep Down Dark" from Hector Tobar, as well as interviews with the key players.
In 2010, the San Jose copper/gold mine collapsed trapping 33 miners more than 2300 feet under tons of rubble and an unstable rock that dwarfed the Empire State Building. Through some pretty solid special effects, we are there for the collapse. It's this segment and the immediate reactions from the miners that provide the film's best segment. We feel the miner's sense of panic and doom as they begin to come to grips with their plight.
The film rotates between three struggles: the isolation of the miners struggling to survive, the tent city populated by their families struggling to maintain hope, and the Chilean government struggling with the politics and public relations of a rescue mission. From a character standpoint, each of these three segments is given a face. Antonio Banderas as Mario becomes the focal point of the miners. He searches for an escape route, takes charge of the (very limited) food rations, and acts as referee and light of hope in an extremely volatile situation. Juliette Binoche (yes the French actress) is Maria, the sister of one of the trapped miners and the most assertive of those pushing the government to attempt a rescue. Rodrigo Santoro plays Laurence Goldborne, Chile's Minister of Mining, and the one who pushes the government to move forward with the costly rescue mission.
Other key characters include Bob Gunton as Chile's President Pinera, Lou Diamond Phillips as "Don Lucho", the safety inspector, Gabriel Byrne as the chief engineer, James Brolin as Jeff Hart (leading the U.S. drilling team), Naomi Scott as Mario's wife, and three of the other miners: Oscar Nunez, Mario Casas, and Juan Pablo Raba.
The most bizarre segment comes courtesy of miner hallucinations. It's a fantasy-infused Last Supper sequence that plays out to the sounds of a Bellini opera, while the food and drink flow and the family members join in the joy. It's not difficult to imagine the brain taking these poor gentlemen to such places of mental torture.
As if the approach is to make the most viewer-friendly buried miner film possible, we aren't witness to much underground conflict, and the internal bickering within the Chilean government officials is kept to a minimum. We do get to see the media circus that occurred during the ordeal of course, most of us witnessed it in real time.
Director Riggen has delivered a film that taps into the multitude of emotions for the different groups of people, rather than concentrating on the miserable situation of the miners. It's a challenge to keep us interested in a true story of which we all know the ending, but most viewers will stay engaged with the characters. It should also be noted that the minimalistic score is some of the last work from the late, great James Horner.
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