Courage comes in many different forms. Sometimes, it is speaking up when it is not comfortable to do so. Other times it is overcoming fears that that are deep inside and facing a physical challenge head on.
Chris Pine’s latest film “The Finest Hours” shows that courage is not about physical strength, but about doing what is right no matter what the odds are against a person. Sometimes, those odds are stacked very high.
The film tells the true story of one of the greatest rescues made by the U.S. Coast Guard off the coast of Cape Code on Feb. 18, 1952. The winter storm generated high winds and waves, which caused two tankers, the Mercer and the Pendleton, to split in half. As the storm progresses Boatswains Mate First Class Bernie Webber (Pine) is asked by his commander to assemble a crew and take a boat out to attempt the rescue of the Pendleton crew.
The film builds its story slowly, allowing the audience the chance to get to know Webber and the type of person he is. Webber is a quite person who follows the rules and chooses what he has to say very carefully. He is also dedicated to his job. He remarks to his fiancée that he understands the danger that faces him each time he goes out on a rescue “In the coast guard, they say you go out, they don’t say that you gotta come back,”Webber said.
The boat Webber and the other three crew members were given to attempt the rescue is what sticks out the most — a 36-foot diesel-powered lifeboat. One of the crew members even remarks about the size of the boat they by saying, “Please tell me that’s just the boat we’re taking to a bigger boat.”
I can’t imagine taking a craft like that into the billowing seas. It looks like a strong wind would break it apart. After seeing the waves for the first time, I don’t know if I would have the guts to continue on. According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s website, Webber and his crew faced 60-foot waves and 70-knot winds. It is a testament to Webber’s skills as a sailor how he's able to navigate the boat in the rough weather even after it has been battered and beaten down.
The film also highlights the courage of the Pendleton crew after their ship was split in half. While half of the ship is gone, they still are afloat and their engines are still operating. They form a plan to steer the ship manually.
Casey Affleck plays the Pendleton’s engineer Ray Sybert, who worked to rally the crew during a dark time and provide them with hope. Prior to the storm, Sybert seems to be a rather quiet person.
When the crew attempts to leave the ship, Sybert cuts the rope to the lifeboat. He explains that the only way they will survive is by working together.
“That boat is too small for these seas and this ship will be sunk by night fall,” Sybert said. “Every fellow that wants to live — the only way that happens is if we run her aground.”
Along with the coast guard and the Pendleton crew, the other character in this film is the storm. The storm draws the audience in, keeping viewers on the edge of their seats the whole way through the film. It leaves the audience with uncertainty, not knowing whether the men will live. This film is truly an epic tale and one that needs to be experienced at the theater to get a better picture of the heroism shown by these men.
The film is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of peril and runs 117 minutes.
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