Fans of National Geographic won't have to look far to find the channel's illuminating documentaries or gripping research studies. Contrary to popular belief, Disney+ currently hosts the majority of National Geographic's catalog. One of the most recent documentaries uploaded to the platform, The Rescue, tells the true story of the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue.
After difficulties securing the rights to the story, The Rescue arrived in theaters on Oct. 8, 2021. Now that curious viewers can dive into the documentary on Disney+, let's revisit the harrowing tale of the cave rescue.
'The Rescue' follows the true story of the 2018 Tham Luang cave rescue.
For those unaware, the Tham Luang cave rescue occurred in June and July 2018, when a junior association football (or soccer, for American fans) team was rescued from the Tham Luang Nang Non cave in Chiang Rai Province in northern Thailand. Per BBC, the team was twelve players aged 12-16 and their assistant coach.
The group entered the cave after practice on June 23, 2018, to celebrate team member Peerapat "Night" Sompiangjai's seventeenth birthday. Shortly after, rainfall partially flooded the cave system, blocking their exit. Family members began to worry when the team did not return home and raised the alarm upon finding their bicycles and practice bags outside the cave.
It took nearly a week to make contact with the trapped team due to rising water levels and strong currents. The severity of the team's situation became of global interest, and the Thai government helped forge international rescue teams to free the trapped players. On July 2, 2018, British divers John Volanthen and Richard Stanton breached the cave and found the group alive.
Rescuers debated the best way to get the team out of the cave, including teaching them basic diving skills or drilling a new entrance to the cave that would allow for extraction. Eventually, the boys were equipped with wetsuits, oxygen masks, a life jacket, and a harness. The boys were clipped to divers and then shuttled out one by one in a "daisy chain" of rescuers.
By July 10, 2018, the last boy and the coach were rescued from the cave.
The story of the Tham Luang cave rescue has been of interest to several major production companies.
Before The Rescue, several major film production companies made a bid for the film's rights. In 2018, the U.S. film production company Pure Flix announced they were planning to create a feature film based on the event. In 2019, Thai-Irish filmmaker Tom Waller released the action-drama The Cave, which featured several of the real-life divers as themselves in a mostly true account of the cave rescue from the divers' perspectives.
In 2020, MGM announced they had acquired the film rights to the story from Pure Flix, and an adaptation of the cave rescue would be written by William Nicholsen and directed by Ron Howard. The movie, now titled Thirteen Lives, is currently filming in Australia.
The Rescue documentary features news footage from the event, reenactments of the situation from cave divers, and more. You can stream The Rescue on Disney+.