The Finest Hours – Recounting the Reality of Our Military Community
There are times I hesitate to watch a film because I am afraid I may connect with it a little too much. So when Disney asked me to watch The Finest Hours and let you all know what I thought, I felt both honored and leery. I mean DISNEY asked moi! That’s a pretty big deal. At the same time, I knew my connection to military life may hit a little close to home. I attended the only school in the world with a Coast Guard JROTC* and went to high school just across the water from a Coast Guard base. In fact, I used to get my military ID’s there when I was a kid.
If you’ve been around the blog awhile you also know my uncle, grandfather, dad and husband are veterans. I grew up on military bases going to military schools. I wish I could know some of the stories the men in my life have to tell. My grandfather was a POW in World War II, my father was Pararescue and served three tours in Vietnam and hubs lived on a US Naval Destroyer. His command was involved in the retrieval of bin Laden. I toured his ship and remember thinking, “How could my husband have lived like this?” For our servicemen it’s just life. You do your duty; it doesn’t matter where it takes you even if you can’t see the horizon because your ship appears to be in a bowl, surrounded by water. I’d pictured it in my head, but Disney brought it to life for me in The Finest Hours.
I watched it, guys. The beginning was a little slow for us, then the hubs and I found ourselves commenting scene through scene about how much we commiserated with the film.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
The Finest Hours – Keeping Us on the Edge of Our Seats
Starring Chris Pine and Casey Affleck, The Finest Hours is based on the true story of the most dangerous small boat rescue in Coast Guard history. During 1952, about six miles off the coast of Chatham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts a ferocious February nor’easter split two T2 oil tankers entirely in half. One Coast Guard command was already on rescue for one of the tankers, the Fort Mercer. After his Officer on Duty, Daniel Cluff, played by Eric Bana (whom I used to totally have a crush on) learns of a second tanker in distress, Boatswain’s (pronounced bō-sin) Mate First Class Bernie Webber, played by Pine, is assigned to head up the rescue mission. Three men volunteer to accompany him on the rescue; one being a US Navy Sailor. They head out on a 36-foot boat. It isn’t until later they realize they’re looking for the aft (the rear half of the ship) of the Pendleton; the other half has sunk into the ocean.
Meanwhile at home, Webber’s fiancée, Miriam (played by Holliday Grainger) does something pretty much every military wife I’ve ever met would love to do – she tells his commanding officer, over and over, to call him back in. I kept asking, “Can you imagine?!” For those who don’t know, a person in the military can get in a lot of trouble if your spouse does something like that. From the beginning, Miriam hears comments about being with a man in the military and how hard it is. She worries, wondering if the man she loves will come back to her. This may seem like Hollywood drama, but it is the reality for military spouses day in and day out. When he tells her he has to get permission to take some days off for their wedding, I laughed and said, “Been there!” OMG-haven’t so many of us?! I found myself nodding my head in agreement with her and her emotions throughout the entire film.
When it comes to the actual rescue, there were times I was so on the edge of my seat I told the hubs, “Hold my hand!” At some points he exclaimed, “Been there!” and “That’s exactly what it is like,” as the men were pummeled by larger than life waves and I was both proud of and scared for him, even though his times on the ship have passed.
Affleck who played The Pendleton’s chief engineer, Raymond Sybert does everything he can to buy himself and his crew more time until a possible rescue can take place. The rescue itself is almost unbelievable; a boat that you can’t believe can endure so much, no navigation, next to nothing visibility and men who must have been beyond frozen to the bone simply doing their job. Just getting past the bar is a feat in itself!
The Finest Hours Available May 24, 2016
May 24th The Finest Hours will be available on Blu-ray™, Digital HD and Disney Movies. Don’t miss the bonus content. The camaraderie is something many of us in the military community can relate with. You also get the chance to “meet” others who literally put their lives on the line for others and learn more about the rescue as a Coast Guard member recounts what happened that night.
The Finest Hours –how does it end?
So do they make it and what happens to Miriam and Webber? Find out May 24th and come back to let me know what you think!
*The Coast Guard now has two JROTC programs. Back when I was in high school there was just one.