It was a normal day for the miners and citizens of Copiapó, Chile, in 2010, but there had been warnings about the instability of the San José Mine for some time. The mine collapses and the 33 men underground make it to the “safety zone,” where there is supposed to be food, water, and means to communicate with those above ground. But there is almost no food, and communication lines are broken.
Luis Urzua (Lou Diamond Phillips) is the foreman who becomes the leader, while Mario Sepúlveda (Antonio Banderas) keeps up the men’s spirits with his antics. José Henríquez (Marco Treviño), the miners’ pastor, leads the men in daily prayer.
Meanwhile, the mining company has no means or even desire to rescue the men. When an engineer, André Sougarret (Gabriel Byrne), arrives, hope begins to build. As the eyes of the world are on him, the president of Chile (Bob Gunton) promises the people the government will save the men, but it is the perseverance of Laurence Golborne (Rodrigo Santoro), the minister of mining, that makes the rescue operation happen.
The 33 is an inspiring film with themes of family, hope, human relationships, workers’ rights, social justice, and reconciliation. Take note of which man is the first to be rescued and who goes last.
See my column in St. Anthony Messenger for more reviews: REEL TIME November 2015.
A post script to my review above: Most of us remember when the miners were trapped and then rescued five years ago. This recreation, including some news footage, feels very real. If you read Pope Francis’ encyclical “Laudato Si'” you will see how many themes from the document and the film converge, especially care for humanity and care for the earth and the problem with profit without care for either.