I’m usually a sucker for animal rescue stories and films (just look at some of my previous posts, including this one.). While vacationing at the beach last week, I was presented with the opportunity to watch this movie, and I hesitated, wondering if I wanted to spend my valuable beach time watching yet another movie about animals that need to be rescued. Well, I was glad I did, because The Big Miracle is exceptional for several reasons:
One extremely cute family of three whales, including an adorable baby whale, that get trapped in the ice five miles from the shoreline near Barrow, Alaska, in 1988. Their desperate calls for help are very moving.
Some extremely hazardous weather conditions, including temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees Fahrenheit , high winds, blizzards, and treacherous ice, mean that their chances of survival are slim, and make for exciting drama.
An extremely unlikely group of people join together to help these poor whales, including a Greenpeace activist (Drew Barrymore), a wealthy oil tycoon (Ted Danson), a local TV news reporter (John Krasinski), and a local Inuit tribal elder (John Pingayak). A typical movie like this pits the good-guy activist against the bad-guy industrialist, so it’s refreshing to see them all working together for once, even if they have ulterior motives for helping.
The actions of this group bring about some amazing results. The local TV news reporter, who first discovers the whales, does a feature report about their plight for the local Anchorage news. The story is picked up by the national news, and quickly goes international. Before long, thousands of reporters from all over the world are descending on little Barrow, Alaska.
More importantly, the news reports bring people to the town who think that they can help in the rescue operation, including two brothers from Minnesota who have invented a de-icing machine.
The situation on the ground quickly becomes desperate, as the rescuers race around the clock and face crisis after crisis to save these whales. I won’t spoil the story, but I will say that it involves a lot of ingenuity on the ground and help from the Alaska National Guard and an icy neighbor of the United States. And I won’t say if all three of these whales make it out alive (oops, maybe I have said too much).
This exciting, feel-good movie is based on true events in 1988 as set forth in Thomas Rose’s book Freeing the Whales. The acting is top-rate, and I especially enjoyed Drew Barrymore as the Greenpeace activist Rachel Kramer. In one scene she dives under water to check on the health of the whales, which I found to be very memorable and sad.
I also enjoyed watching media clips from 1988 of Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather and Peter Jennings when they were still in their prime. This gives the movie a sense of authenticity (reminding viewers that this was a real story) as well as a sense of nostalgia for older viewers like myself who remember watching these famous TV news anchors.
The Big Miracle is an exciting movie that I highly recommended watching, on or off the beach.