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Thirteen Lives is the epic retelling of the true story the world could never forget.

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In the opening scene of Prime Video's Thirteen Lives, a group of boys kick a soccer ball around an oval in Thailand. 

They run around the grass, laugh, and share snacks. They have no idea that in just a few short hours they will become the biggest news story in the world. 

It's June 23, 2018, and the boys are the 12 members of the Wild Boars soccer team. That afternoon they would become trapped in a flooded cave. For 18 days, experts from across Thailand and around the globe would attempt to rescue the boys, to no avail. Meanwhile, millions of people around the world followed their story, desperately waiting for the next update. 

Watch the trailer for Prime Video's Thirteen Lives. Post continues below. 


Video via YouTube.

Their experience in the cave, the bravery of those who rescued them, would unite people around the world. The story of those 12 boys, their coach, and their rescuers came to represent the good in people. How we will drop everything and come together to help those in need. 

Now acclaimed director Ron Howard has brought their story to life in a heartwarming, life-affirming movie. Thirteen Lives is streaming exclusively on Prime Video from August 5. 

Howard, who also directed Apollo 13, said he was drawn to the story because of its sense of optimism. 

"I don’t think I’m naturally drawn to tragedy. I’m drawn towards the validation of optimism," he told The Guardian.

"I was drawn to the cave rescue in part because it incarnated something that impressed me in the early days of NASA – that the best idea wins. The same happened during this rescue."

After the training session that afternoon, the boys and their 25-year-old assistant coach Ekkapol “Ake” Chantawong (played in the movie by Teeradon Supapunpinyo) decided to explore Tham Luang Nang Non, a cave complex located under Doi Nang Non, a mountain range that sits between Thailand and Myanmar.

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After spending some time in the cave, the boys decided to start heading home. That's when they noticed that something wasn't quite right. As they attempted to walk back out of the cave, the team encountered growing pools of water. They began to wonder whether they had gone the wrong way, deeper into the cave. 

Soon they realised they were trapped. 

What the boys and their coach didn't know is that it had began to rain heavily while they were exploring the cave and the rain had been pouring into it. 

They made their way back into the belly of the cave and found a dry, elevated spot. This would be their home for the next 18 days. 

Image: Prime Video.  

At a press conference after they were rescued, Ake said at first they weren't too concerned. They figured they would be found by the next morning. 

“We stayed near a water source. We slept at this sand spot. Before we slept, we prayed to Buddha. We thought in the morning, water would come down and officials would look for us. We weren’t scared at that time," he said, according to the BBC.

But that wasn't the case. 

Outside, the boys' parents had noticed they were missing and alerted the authorities. According to Time, Thai Navy Seals were able to respond quickly to the crisis and rescue efforts actually began that night. But the continuing heavy rains made those efforts futile. 

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Divers couldn't see through the opaque pools of rain, dirt, and debris. They had no choice but to suspend the rescue efforts. They brought pumps in to drain the tunnels, but the pouring rain, made these efforts futile too. 

Meanwhile, underground, the boys, who ranged in age from 11 to 16, drank the water that dripped down from the cave walls. They took turns using the one torch to look for a way out and played checkers to pass the time. To keep them calm, Ake would lead them in meditation. 

Soon, the story began to get international traction and experts around the world began to pitch in. 

Within days, British divers and an expert with in-depth knowledge of the cave arrived on scene. They were followed by experts and dive teams from US Indo-Pacific command, Australia, China, Japan, and Israel. 

On July 2, two British cave divers, Richard Stanton (played by Viggo Mortensen) and John Volanthen (played by Colin Farrell) made contact with the boys and their coach. They were found roughly 400 metres away from Pattaya Beach, where divers had expected to find them.  

The moment was caught on film and beamed around the world. One of the boys begged the rescuers for food, saying, "eat, eat, eat, tell them we are hungry". 

Although they had made contact, the boys still weren't able to be rescued because of the rising floodwaters. 

On July 5, the rescue teams faced another setback. A former Thai Navy SEAL named Saman Kunan (played by Sukollawat Kanaros) made a dive to place air tanks in the cave. After successfully completing his mission, he lost consciousness and died. He was hailed a hero around the world. 

Image: Prime Video.  

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The next step in the plan was to figure out how to keep the boys safe while rescuing them. An Australian anesthetist named Richard Harris (played by Joel Edgerton) was brought in to help. 

He suggested that each of the boys be given ketamine throughout the rescue so they would remain unconscious. 

It worked. 

It took three days for all the boys to be rescued from the cave. A group of Thai Navy seals stayed with the boys the entire time, with the boys each taking a turn to exit the cave accompanied by two divers.

On July 10, the final four boys and their coach exited the cave. 

After leaving the cave, Ake told the waiting press: "Saman sacrificed his life to save us, so that we could go and live our lives." 

Four years on, the Thai cave rescue continues to be a story of resilience and the triumph of the human spirit. A beacon of hope in trying times. 

What Thirteen Lives does so brilliantly is show this side of humanity, without giving it the 'Hollywood treatment'. 

“We’ve seen this sort of thing happen before, in the tsunami in Japan, when humanity pulls together,” Thirteen Lives’ co-producer Vorakorn Reutaivanichkul told The Guardian.

“Ron’s a very humanistic director so he wanted to show how people from all cultures and walks of life worked together to make the rescue happen. We really didn’t want another white-saviour narrative. Not just because we’ve seen it too many times in films, but because it isn’t what happened. The film is uplifting about what humans do in crisis, which is, I think, what we need in this modern world.”

Thirteen Lives is a gripping, heartfelt movie that will restore your faith in humanity. 

Thirteen Lives is streaming on Prime Video from August 5.

Feature Image: Prime Video.

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