In the four years since 13 young boys on the Wild Boars soccer team became trapped in a flooded cave for 18 world-captivating days, there have been no shortage of film and TV adaptations of the incident. To merely scratch the surface, there was the 2019 film The Cave, there was The Rescue (Free Solodirecting team Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s NatGeo-produced doc) and, most recently, there was Thirteen Lives, director Ron Howard’s big-budget, star-studded dramatization of the perilous rescue mission. But all of these on-screen endeavors are missing one crucial component: The perspective of the survivors. This was no creative choice. Not long after the incident took place, Netflix locked down exclusive rights to the boys’ stories, making it so every other take on the event—even Howard’s $55 million dollar endeavor—had to almost entirely circumvent any depiction of the victims.
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The Tham Luang cave disaster of 2018 is one of the rare instances in recent history where almost everyone remembers exactly where they were when they first heard the news. That summer, headlines relentlessly relayed increasingly grim updates on an adolescent soccer team that became stuck in a labyrinthine Thailand cave when it unexpectedly flooded. Every day, reports related exactly how long the kids and their coach had been trapped in there. It had been a week without food for the 11-16-year-olds, they declared. Before we knew it, it was two. This captivating incident was so memorable, so high-stakes and so unlikely, that it practically begged to be adapted into a riveting survival blockbuster. And if there’s anyone who’s up for that task, it’s Ron Howard, the director who helmed the adrenaline-pinching space-thriller Apollo 13 and nauseating shipwreck disaster In the Heart of the Sea.
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