Just before Thanksgiving in 2009 the news all over Utah was of a man trapped in Nutty Putty cave. That cave was popular for scouts and my family had been in it before. I'd thought about going myself, but never did. When I heard about the young father named John Jones trapped in there, I could only hope he'd be rescued and reunited with his family.
When I heard a film was being made about it, I didn't know if I could see it since I knew the ending. It was such a tragic story and since I had children nearly the same age as the Jones family, it was emotional for me. But I decided to go to the movie because I wanted to know more about the why. Why couldn't they get him out? Why had he gone in the first place? Why was this film being made now?
Before the film started, Isaac Halasima, the writer and director of the film, addressed the audience to talk about what filmmaking meant to him. How he expressed himself through his art, to remind us all of our human experiences and those of others. To help us to feel and be moved and take that to touch others and change lives. With that in mind, the film started.
The film has such an innocence about it in the beginning. John is coming home to spend the holidays with family. He's been in medical school and is anxious to just be with family. He heads to the newly reopened cave with his brother, laughing that they need to go before the big dinner since that would make it impossible for them to get through the tight spaces. The stage is set for how and when John gets stuck. As the rescue begins, the audience gets glimpses of the life John Jones led and how he met his wife Emily. It was sweet and tender getting to know these ordinary people caught in extraordinary circumstances.
So many people came together to help John and the filmmaker used a composite to make one memorable rescuer who stayed the entire time John was down there. Even in the face of such a trial there were some laughter amid the tears and the audience is completely drawn into that dynamic. The filmmaker did an exceptional job with casting and completely met his goal to show the audience a mirror of emotions as they experience this sacred last day with John Jones. It's not a movie I will soon forget and now I know all the whys. My question has moved from why did this happen to what will change about me because it happened. Make every day count. Tell people you love them. Be happy in the face of extreme odds. Never give up.
The Last Descent is a movie that will make you feel and hope and laugh and cry. It will stay with you long after the lights come up. It opens in theaters Sept. 16th.
You can find out more at the official movie website here
Watch the official movie trailer below