Whenever a movie comes out in theaters with the tagline “based on a true story,” that film is often judged more as a faithful representation than as a good film. This judgment can often be a problem, as a film can be an awful representation of the source material but still be a fantastic movie, or vice-versa. People often lump the two categories of “film” and “adaptation” together, and if one of those aspects falls flat, so does the other. Looking at “The 33,” an adaptation about the 2010 Copiapó mining accident, in which 33 miners spent a little over two months in a collapsed mine underground before their rescue, I will judge the film as its own work first, and then as an adaptation. So does it succeed in either aspect? Well …
On Aug. 5, 2010, the Copiapó mine in Chile collapsed, trapping inside all 33 workers on duty. With only three days worth of food, the miners, led by Mario Sepúlveda (Antonio Banderas), do their best to survive and hold out in the hope that rescue attempts are being made on the surface. Alongside this incident, the families of the 33 were coping with this tragedy, not even officially knowing if the 33 were alive at all and doing their best to instigate more rescue efforts. Most of the film seems to faithfully retell events, a must for adaptations of true stories. Though shifting between happenings above and below ground may introduce sharp mood changes, it seems to be the best method of telling the parallel stories.
The cast does a fantastic job, especially the 33 men of the team, including Banderas. There are some really emotional moments, not to mention dramatic, and even comedic moments, the latter being handled particularly well, given the film’s subject. As you experience events alongside the 33, you find yourself cheering, laughing and holding your breath every step of the way — a sign of a successful movie. I only wished to have seen more of the 33, as the film can only afford to focus on a few notable members, which thankfully have a wide range of personalities and inner flaws that come to light, and even clash, throughout the length of their “imprisonment,” adding a nice flair to the drama. Both as a film element and an adaptation, the film did a fine job.
As a movie, “The 33” is well worth the price of admission, and as an adaptation, while a few facts aren’t perfectly recreated, the film satisfactorily retells the miraculous rescue of 33 miners. If you want a fulfilling experience, see this movie, and be sure to stay for the end, as the original 33 Chilean “brothers” make an appearance — giving the movie their stamp of approval.