Big Miracle is one of the movies that I’ve been most looking forward to see in 2012 mainly because it features one my favorite actresses Drew Barrymore and it revolves around animals — in this case a family of grey whales who have been trapped in the ice in Point Barrow, Alaska. The movie is made greater by the fact that it is based on a true story adapted from the book Freeing the Whales by Tom Rose about the valiant rescue of the adorable giant fishes who have been rendered helpless in the face of freezing temperatures and thickening ice walls.
The story begins when a small time television reporter from Anchorage Adam Carlson (John Krasinski), stumbles upon three grey whales trapped in the ice and feeds the story to his local cable network. When his his story is picked up from the wires by national television stations, interest in the whales grow, in particular, that of his ex-girlfriend and environmental activist Rachel Kramer (Barrymore) who uses all means necessary to get mileage for the story to pressure the government into helping Fred, Wilma and Bam Bam (the names chosen for the three whales) get out of their frozen prison and survive. But challenges continue to hamper the rescue attempts and the whale’s chances of surviving grow dire as every hour passes.
I have wanted to see this film since I saw its trailer being shown in the cinemas last year even though I’m not big on dramas. But the trailer alone made me cry and so did this heartwarming tale of unity in the face of adversity, of going above and beyond the call of duty, of setting aside pride to achieve a common goal and of course, how to care about a cause so greatly that one would go to any lengths just to make a difference, so I was thinking that if the trailer alone is able to accomplish all that, what more the entire movie?
I’m glad to say that I did not make a wrong choice being excited for this film. I think that the greatest strength of the film lies in its ability to touch people hearts. Audiences easily relate to the characters because they are real. The politician who wants to gain votes and popularity for the next election, his public relations team who scouts for stories that would increase his trust ratings, the dedicated public servant who gets roped into the fray because he has no choice, the businessmen who want to get good publicity, people from a small town who are misunderstood by outsiders who do not know their culture, reporters who box each other out for a story and those who truly care about the lives of the whales without any agenda. The thing is, while things start out merely as a PR stunt for some, at the end of the day, this story was able to connect deeply to each person who was part of the rescue, and even to those who merely witnessed the feat through the big screen. Its all because the whales are mostly symbolic of all the good things that can bring people together, so much that they can forget what tears them apart. In the end, one would be amazed as to who would be willing to extend a hand to assist in a seemingly hopeless effort. The film is amazing, in my opinion, not only because of the excellent cast but because the story is able to illustrate the value of a united effort and at the same time pushes people to reflect on what they would personally do if they were faced with a similar situation, or any difficult situation, for that matter. It boggles the mind what countries could achieve by tearing down walls of division and bias — the whales could just be the tip of the iceberg (no pun intended), and millions of lives could be saved and uplifted.
Big Miracle is not going to garner any Oscars but it was a good movie that tells an excellent story very well. It enrages, it touches, it inspires and it gives people faith in the strength and kindness of their fellow man. And that, in my opinion, is the gift that this film gives its audience. People walk away with a sense of purpose, even for a few minutes, a few hours after seeing this movie. And that’s a good thing to come back to when one if feeling bleak and lost.
If one is not interested in the underlying message that the film delivers, then seeing Sarah Palin when she was just starting out as a reporter in Anchorage, big hair and all, may well be plus to see the movie. By the way, I liked the song that they used in the trailer, too bad it was in no part of the actual movie.