Another true story, thrillingly told. The 33 chronicles the 2010 Chilean mining disaster and the survival instincts of the 33 men who were underground for 69 days.
With limited food and water, in a stifling hot area where the men take refuge when the mine collapses, conflict ensues. Under the leadership of Mario Sepulvida (Antonio Banderas), supplies are rationed and sagging spirits are lifted. Among the 33 is an actor you may not have seen in a while, Lou Diamond Phillips.
The film’s actors speak English with Hispanic accents. This, presumably, is to make the film accessible to American audiences who prefer not to read subtitles. This works okay for the most part. (There are a handful of characters who speak in Español with English translations superimposed.)
We’re accustomed to hearing Banderas in that manner. But when Bob Gunton employs an accent, it sounds totally inauthentic. (Gunton, who is instantly recognizable as the warden in The Shawshank Redemption, plays the Chilean president.)
Immediately after the incident, family members set up camp right outside the mining area’s gates. Juliette Binoche is most outspoken to government and mine officials, urging them to accomplish the rescue.
Initial contact is made nearly three weeks into the ordeal. Food, water and other supplies are sent down via a narrow tube. But a wider passageway will need to be drilled to bring the 33 back home. Gabriel Byrne appears as a geologist who’s working with big machines to rescue the miners. He becomes frustrated with equipment shortcomings.
Two scenes in The 33 are particularly emotional. First, there’s a fantasy sequence with all the hungry men enjoying an imaginary feast. Second, footage of the actual 33 Chileans miners serves as an effective upbeat coda to their moving story.
For those of use whose work is mainly done at a keyboard and/or on a phone, The 33 serves as a reminder that many men and women work hard every day in dangerous conditions. While watching The 33, I thought of my dad who worked in a pipe factory and often came home with welding burns on his arms and legs.
The 33 honors the workers, their families and those who got the men out alive with a clearly-told story that reminds us just how tragic the event was.