The Movie Waffler 10 real-life disaster movies | The Movie Waffler

10 real-life disaster movies

With award-winning real-life plane crash feature EREBUS: INTO THE UNKNOWN hitting UK cinema screens on 9 January and DVD/On Demand 12 January, we look back at films that capture the bravery, humanity, loss, spirit and experiences of some of the world’s most disastrous real-life situations.

Erebus: Into the Unknown (2015) 
dir. Charlotte Purdy & Peter Berger
An award-winning documentary telling the story of four New Zealand police officers who went to Antarctica as part of the police operation to recover the victims of a major commercial jet crash. On 28 November 1979, an Air New Zealand jet with 257 passengers went missing during a sightseeing tour over Antarctica. Within hours, 11 ordinary police officers were called to duty to face the formidable Mount Erebus. As the police recovered the victims, an investigation team tried to uncover the mystery of how a jet could fly into a mountain in broad daylight.

The Impossible (2012) 
dir. J.A. Bayona
A British family on Christmas holiday at a beach resort in Thailand is torn apart when a deadly tsunami devastates the area. With critically acclaimed performances by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor, The Impossible is based on the harrowing experiences of Maria Belón and her family, who were caught in the destruction and chaotic aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean Boxing Day tsunami. The film follows the seriously wounded Maria and her eldest son Lucas as they struggle to safety, not knowing whether Maria's husband and their two younger sons are dead or alive.

127 Hours (2010) 
dir. Danny Boyle
Nominated for six Academy Awards, 127 Hours is the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston's remarkable adventure to save himself after a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolated canyon in Utah. Over a five-day period, Ralston examines his life and survives the elements to finally discover he has the courage and the wherewithal to extricate himself by any means necessary – no matter how extreme. Throughout his journey, Ralston recalls friends, lovers, family, and the two hikers he met before his accident.

Into the Wild (2007) 
dir. Sean Penn
Adapted from the 1996 non-fiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild tells the true story of fresh college graduate Christopher McCandless, who abandons his possessions to live in the Alaskan wilderness. Venturing with little food and equipment, and hoping to live simply for a time in solitude, McCandless ultimately falls victim to the elements when he becomes trapped in the bush. What happened to him on the way transformed this young wanderer into an enduring symbol for countless people -- a fearless risk-taker who wrestled with the precarious balance between man and nature.

World Trade Center (2006) 
dir. Oliver Stone
In the aftermath of the World Trade Center disaster, hope is still alive. Refusing to bow down to terrorism, rescuers and family of the victims press forward. Their mission of rescue and recovery is driven by the faith that under each piece of rubble, a co-worker, a friend a family member may be found. World Trade Center is the true story of John McLoughlin and William J. Jimeno, two of the last survivors extracted from Ground Zero and the rescuers who never gave up. It's a story of the true heroes of that fateful time in the history of the United States when buildings would fall and heroes would rise, literally from the ashes to inspire the entire human race.

United 93 (2006) 
dir. Paul Greengrass
A critically acclaimed real-time account of the final flight of United 93, one of the planes that was hijacked on 9/11 and ultimately crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, after passengers overpowered the terrorists on board. The film was made with the cooperation of all of the passengers’ families, and chronicles – with as much veracity possible – the events, experiences and actions of those on the plane from takeoff until its tragic crash.

Open Water (2003) 
dir. Chris Kentis
Based on the true story of American couple, Tom and Eileen Lonergan, who were accidentally left at sea in 1998 during a dive-boat expedition on the Great Barrier Reef, Open Water tells the terrifying tale of two lovers struggling to survive and maintain sanity in shark infested waters after their tour boat abandons them.

Touching the Void (2003) 
dir. Kevin Macdonald
In 1985 two young climbers attempted to reach the summit of Siula Grande in Peru; a feat that had previously been attempted but never achieved. With an extra man looking after base camp, Simon Yates and Joe Simpson set off to scale the mount over several days. Both men successfully reach the peak, but on the descent Joe goes out on an overhang, forcing Simon to cut the rope that attaches them to each other. Assuming him dead, Simon continues back down. But Joe survives the fall, and must find a way to reach the bottom. This is the true story of their harrowing journey and how Joe got back down.

The Perfect Storm (2000) 
dir. Wolfgang Petersen
Adapted from the 1997 non-fiction book of the same title by Seabstian Junger, The Perfect Storm is the tragic story of the crew of the Andrea Gail, who were fatally caught in the North Atlantic during the Halloween Nor’easter of 1991.

Alive (1993) 
dir. Frank Marshall
The amazing, true story of a Uruguayan rugby team's plane that crashed in the middle of the Andes mountains, and their immense will to survive and pull through alive, forced to do anything and everything they could to stay alive on meager rations and through the freezing cold. The only thing the team has riding on after losing so many of their good friends and family members is the slim chance of making it through alive and their faithfulness to God.

EREBUS: INTO THE UNKNOWN is in cinemas 9 January and DVD/On Demand 12 January