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The Finest Hours : The Story that proves miracles actually happen

In 1952 the oil tanker comes across a severe storm and breaks into two halves. Its bow
sinks right away while the stern remains floating on the water for a while. Nevertheless, those sailors who didn’t die begin to realize that within the next few hours they will most likely face the same fate as those who didn’t make it, among whom were the ship captain and his first assistant. Since search and rescue fleet was performing operations in a different place at that time, there is no one who can help the survivors but the small coast guard boat under the rule of boatswain Bernie Webber (Chris Pine). But the storm raises waves on the height of a skyscraper and each one of those waves can easily bury the tiny old boat under the surface of the water. That is why all sailors under the supervision of Bernie realize – the guy along with three crew members are setting out to a true death. Of course if they are bold enough to leave a safe bay and enter the stormy ocean...

There are stories in the truthfulness of which you can hardly believe if you don’t know that they actually happened in real life. The rescue of “Pendleton” sailors is one of such stories. We are not going to dive into the details of all the hardships that the tanker’s crew and rescue team had to face (sailors had to do really tough job to keep the tanker on the surface of the water); one big wave was enough to sentence all of the participants of this event to death under the icy water. Nevertheless, many of them were saved which wasn’t a miracle. No direct divine intervention involved. They survived because they managed to keep their heads cool and skillfully did what they were supposed to.

Without a doubt, the Webber’s team and ”Pendleton” crew deserved being perpetuated in a movie; due to the very same reasons there are so many movies about war. Young people have to know about the heroism of their ancestors so that when the necessity arises they could find inspiration in the events of the past and act respectively. Of course the heroes of “The Finest Hours” are fighting the forces of nature, not the enemy. But a 5 meter wave is no less intimidating than a tank heading in your direction; one needs to be a very strong person not to give up under the pressure.

To the honor of the Australian director Craig Gillespie, we have to say that one can hardly find anything wrong with the movie. “The Finest Hours” is not about subtle drama. Instead, it is quite straightforward and old-fashioned narration about the courage and wit of common people who don’t appear like born heroes at all. But how can you tell such a story if you want to do it with all sincerity and without twists and generalizations that are so common in our society today? In general as well as in any particular moment of the movie, “The Finest Hours” achieves its goals. It brilliantly describes the environment of the ocean and events on the shore; the narrative isn’t overloaded with unclear marine jargon and utilizes great computer graphics for depicting the deadly storm.

The attempts to stage the story started in 2011. At that time the Disney Company has bought the rights to staging of the book in which the authors tried to find out the causes of two disasters in 1952 and solve the puzzle of unbelievable rescue operation. The plot of the future movie was rewritten multiple times; the role of the producer was taken by different professionals of different caliber. They first hired German film director Robert Schwentke but he then chose to stage the fiction story «The Divergent Series: Insurgent» so they had to find someone else.

The responsibility for the final staging falls on the creators of «The Fighter» by David O. Russell; it wasn’t their first time to manage multiple options for plot development when the heroes were to be in the primary focus while the story was there only to help their growth and evolution. If you watch the movie, you will start trusting the characters and their dialogues immediately which can already be considered a great success of those working on the movie. Despite the fact that the plot is somewhat schematic, you start noticing that only when the final credits appear on the screen. The creators of the movie have managed to spin the story so gracefully that you don’t have time to think about such small things as the simplicity of the plot when watching the movie.


Spanish operator Javier Aguirresarobe, who has worked on almost 100 movies, created a truly memorable story. All this flirting with the era which people have been romanticizing for a long time, is both quite unusual and engaging. When you watch the film, you begin to realize that Javier Aguirresarobe is capable of screening pretty much any scene so masterfully that you will be in awe. The composer Carter Burwell adds to “The Finest Hours” more drama to the story. His music intensifies dramatic moments and makes the dangerous scenes even more breathtaking.

The main events of the movie revolve around the sailors, but there is one more person who is actively involved in those events – the Bernie’s bride portrayed by Holliday Grainger (one of the Cinderella’s sisters in the recent staging of the tale). Her character helps people to feel the horror of those waiting on the shore for the news about their close ones. Obviously, Miriam is in the better position than her groom. But she, who used to be a smart and brave girl, is devastated by the fact that she can do nothing to help Bernie. She can’t even talk to him on the radio in order to encourage him. And her psychological sufferings are no less painful than physical and spiritual trials Bernie is going through.

The story also contains a collision. Chris Pine, Casey Affleck and Eric Bana have a good track record in this kind of movies but their involvement in “The Finest Hours” isn’t one of those good experiences. First of all, Pine decided to experiment with the image of ladies’ man and sort of reach out to the beginnings of his career when he played a loser in «Just My Luck». But in that film he actually looked very convincing as opposed to his performance in “The Finest Hours” where he didn’t do so well. Sometimes it even seems that his hero is going to escape from the screen being eaten up by his low self-esteem. Quite possible that the creators of the movie did it on purpose in order to show the contrast between his timid behavior with girls and colleagues on one side and his persistence in following the orders on the other side. But everybody should at least have a look at this role despite the fact that it seems so foreign to him. Secondly, Casey Affleck is one of the central characters of the movie but the problem is he never opens up fully. He is very introverted, locked and is never initiative but at the same time he is to take the leadership at some point so that should be interesting. That is by the way one of the hallmarks of this movie – to show the dualism of the heroes. This principle of dualism stands true for another character – Eric Bana. Did he really believe when he was sending his subordinates to a true death that they could actually cope with the task? Or maybe he was just an insane man who had an intensified sense of duty that he was ready to sacrifice human lives for the sake of the image of a harsh boss? The answers to these questions are not going to be given in the film but instead you will have the opportunity to dive into the very center of ruthless nature and become a witness of a historical event that has struck millions of people around the world. Additionally, the movie is visually pleasing thankfully to the perfect reconstruction of the atmosphere of the 1950s and truthfulness of the cold and destructive waves.

Please don’t leave the movie center before it ends because one of the most interesting parts in such kind of projects is the final credits, where they usually show the pictures of real participants of the events. In “The Finest Hours” the final credits provide a real chronology of the events with pictures, newspaper excerpts and short narratives about the further life of the real people who had gone through the storm.

«The Finest Hours» is a movie from which you don’t expect too much before you watch it. The film creators masterfully appease the attention of spectators when introducing the main characters in such a way that further events appear more dramatic that you could ever imagine. Thankfully to 3D and IMAX technologies, the movie goes far beyond one’s expectations and is watched in one breath from the beginning to the very end. 

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