The world’s first dramatic feature about the cave rescue of a Thai soccer team hits Australian cinemas on August 19.
Filmed in Thailand, The Cave tells this true-life story with powerful authenticity, and delves into the deep spiritual and cultural resonance the event had on the Thai people, as well as on the millions worldwide transfixed by the unfolding story and hoping for a miracle.
Based on the incredible rescue mission of the “Wild Boars” Soccer Team, 12 boys and their coach, who in June 2018 became trapped in a northern Thailand cave by flood waters.
Against all odds, a team of cave divers and responders rushed to the site from around the world to undertake the largest international cave rescue mission in history.
Director Tom Waller was the perfect person to create a film about this event.
Born in Thailand to an Irish Catholic dad and Thai Buddhist mum, but educated in the UK, he said, “I’m neither fully Thai nor fully British. I speak Thai, I’ve been living here and working here for 15 years and I understand the culture.”
He wanted the film to be an honest portrayal of the events that took place at Tham Luang cave, and decided to go for a more authentic approach.
Rather than trying to depict the “helicopter view“ of the events at Tham Luang – which were followed so avidly by tens of millions of people around the world, Waller has told the story through the eyes of Jim Warny, one of the rescue divers.
Warny played a key role in chamber six on days two and three of the rescue, administering top-up injections to the boys to keep them sedated (so they didn’t panic and drown) as well as helping dive and carry the team through the cave.
He, along with Canadian cave diver Erik Brown and Finnish cave diver Mikko Paasi – who were both also stationed inside the cave as part of the ’international all-star team’ that brought the kids out – play themselves in the movie.
This is because Waller wanted the film to have a cinema verite, voyeuristic feel to it.
The real life moment when Dr Harris taught the 11 other divers how inject someone with Ketamine, by practicing on a plastic drink bottle, is depicted in the movie – as is Warny’s subsequent “45 seconds“ of training with Harris when he joined the mission on the day of the rescue.
The film also features several hundred extras, a mix of actors and those who were present at the event itself.
At the time there was an influx of people who dropped everything and drove for many miles to go to the mountain to help, and were “turned away because they didn’t have the right badge or a permit,” Mr Waller said.
“The farmers closest to the site whose crops were flooded and destroyed, and (who) refused to accept the compensation money the government offered them. The man who drove his water pumps 900km from Chang Mai.”
Nobody really knew about the sacrifices these people made, until now.
Thai teen heartthrob Ekawat Niratworapanya plays the football coach, and Thai folk artist Jumpa Saenprom plays Mae Bua Chaicheun, a local farmer who dropped everything and headed to the mountainside to help.
Actors also play Australian divers Richard Harris and Craig Challen, who won the Australian of the Year award for their efforts.
The Cave hits cinemas across Australia on August 19. Get tickets at TheCaveMovie.com.au