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Random thoughts on a movie and some South American miners



A movie on the Chilean mine cave-in and on the successful rescue of all 33 of the trapped miners after they had spent three months in a small room 2,300 feet underground, might not have sounded to some Hollywood moguls like the most likely prospect for a big hit.

Yes, it sounds like a compelling theme. But ... on the part of the endangered parties, there isn't a lot of action, after the early scene in which they're shown scrambling to get themselves to the safe room. After that, for them, it was waiting.

Here's a negative review of the movie that focuses on that point.

I enjoyed the movie more than Lizzie Plaugic did, but I see her point.

There was a fun subtheme about "the Bolivian." Most of the miners were local guys, Chileans. There was the one Bolivean, and he came in for more than his share of ribbing. The two nationalities have a long rivalry. There's a nice exchange between him and a fellow miner who thinks all Boliveans are natural thieves.

The Bolivian snaps, "Chile stole this land from us in 1881. So who are the thieves?"

Chilean responds, "Eighty eighty-one was  [shrugs] 1881."

Seldom has a tautology sounded more world-weary.

Anyway, the exchange inspired me to do a bit of convoluted research (i.e. I let my fingers type my way to a couple of relevant wikipedia articles.) The conflict in question was known as the "War of the Pacific" and it lasted from 1879 to 1883. The dialogue in question presumably referred to an incident within that war, a war that involved not only Chile and Bolivia but Peru and Argentina as well.

The map above is from a depiction of the major land campaign in that conflict.

As to the movie: how's it doing at the box office? Not so well, I understand. It earned $5.85 million on its first weekend. LOVE THE COOPERS got $8.4 million on the same weekend. Neither of them got James Bond style earnings. The latest entry from that franchise, SPECTRE, got $70 million in box office in its first weekend out of the gate.

Well, THE 33 might yet do well on the overseas showings -- as from the various countries that were involved in the Pacific War. As a sentimentalist, I hope it does. The miners involved never received any compensation. I'm hoping they have some share of the movie revenue rights on their story!

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