Today: May 14, 2024

Best Films Inspired By Real Life

To celebrate the release of Deepwater Horizon – based on a devastating true story – join us as we look at some of the greatest true stories ever told on film.

Captain Phillips
After his ship is targeted by Somali pirates, Captain Phillips (Tom Hanks) must use his skills and cunning in the ensuing standoff with erratic leader, Muse (Barkhad Abdi), who plans to hold the ship and crew to ransom. Temporarily outwitting the pirates, the ship’s crew cut the power and capture Muse, but when the rest of the gang take Phillips hostage in return, the brave Captain offers himself in order to keep his crew safe. The final scenes are a claustrophobic race against the clock, as Tom Hanks plays out the traumatic and incredibly brave actions of a real life hero.

The Impossible
When the Boxing Day Tsunami devastated south east Asia in 2004, one of the most unbelievable true stories emerged – was stunningly reenacted in The Impossible. Henry (Ewan McGregor), his wife Maria (Naomi Watts), and their three sons travel to a picturesque Thailand resort for and exotic Christmas break. After the tsunami strikes, the family finds themselves separated and suffering. Henry and Maria fight against the odds to protect their children and ultimately bring the family back together again. With moments of heart-wrenching tragedy and acts of unbelievable compassion, this is a film that will leave you reeling.

The 33
Struggling to support his family, Mario (Antonio Banderas) along with other miners, take on extra shifts in the unstable San Jose Mine. When the decision is made to keep the mine open, regardless of the safety issues, the men know they have no choice but to carry on. A few hours into the mine, the ground begins to shake and boulders the size of the Empire State Building collapse the escape tunnels, and leaving 33 men trapped 2,300ft below ground. Through the tireless campaigning of their families on the surface the rescue capsule finally reaches the men, an incredible 58 days later. One of the most unlikely stories ever brought to screen, The 33 is bot tense and uplifting.

Not for those with vertigo. When mountaineer Rob Hall (Jason Clarke) gathers a team of eager adventurers to climb the mammoth that is Mount Everest, things quickly take a turn for the worst as an storm roll towards the team. Some scenes from the film were borrowed from the 1998 documentary of the same name, which really adds to the realism of the tragic story. Clarke is joined by an all-star cast, including Keira Knightley, Jake Gyllenhaal and Emily Watson.

127 Hours
127 Hours tells the horrifying true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston’s (James Franco) remarkable effort to save his own life after a boulder crashes on his arm and traps him, leaving him isolated in the middle of Utah. The five days that follow sees Ralston realise that it’s up to him to save himself  …regardless of the pain. As we follow Aron, fighting with both the elements … hallucinating and close to death …127 Hours leaves us squirming in our seats.

Deepwater Horizon
After saying goodbye to his wife (Kate Hudson) and daughter for 21 days, Mike Williams (Mark Wahlberg) makes his way to work on the Deepwater Horizon, an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Tension builds as tell-tale signs of the rig’s problems are felt by the experienced crew, but ignored by visiting supervisor Donald Vidrine (John Malkovich). Within minutes of Vitrine’s ill-advised order to begin pumping oil, the rig explodes, bringing tonnes of oil down on the crew, eventually setting the rig on fire. As real life hero Mike attempts to get his team to safety, you can feel your pulse pounding.


Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email:

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