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Case Number 21037: Small Claims Court

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Nova: Emergency Mine Rescue

PBS // 2010 // 60 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Roman Martel (Retired) // April 2nd, 2011

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All Rise...

Judge Roman Martel's rescue of his cell phone in the couch cushions also required plans A, B, and C.

Editor's Note

Our reviews of Nova: Can We Live Forever? (published April 24th, 2011), Nova: Deadliest Earthquakes (published April 9th, 2011), and Nova: Where Did We Come From? (published April 30th, 2011) are also available.

The Charge

On August 5th, 2010, the San José copper-gold mine in Chile suffered a massive cave-in. Thirty-three miners were left trapped 2,300 feet below the earth's surface. Nothing but rock lay between them and freedom. The rescue attempt captivated the world's attention for 69 days. PBS and Nova bring you the story.

The Case

And what a story this is. If you were paying attention to current events at all during the span of August to October of 2010, it was hard to miss the Chilean mine rescue operation. The tale of 33 men trapped in some of the worst imaginable conditions and the various attempts and set backs during the rescue attempt created some compelling stories. Most of us were pulled into this real drama, following it each day (or more frequently) through various news sources.

Emergency Mine Rescue takes the entire story and attempts to tell it in about an hour. It covers everything from the first reports of the missing men, up to a montage of each rescued miner breaking to the surface to fall into the arms of family and friends. The documentary uses a combination of interviews, news footage, archival footage and computer created diagrams to interest you in the story.

The film is well executed and pretty informative. Some of the music is a bit overdone, but that can be expected with such a dramatic story. If you are looking for a good summary of the events condensed into 55 minutes or so, you'll like what you find here.

But for anyone looking for a bit more information, such as the reason for the cave-in, or what happened to the miners after the rescue, you'll be disappointed. This documentary was created right after the rescue was completed, and I hate to say it, but it feels a bit like it was attempting to ride the coattails of the massive interest in the story. What you find here is nothing more detailed than you can find looking over archived articles from your favorite news site and in the Wikipedia link I added to this review. I was hoping we'd get a bit more information on the devices used in the rescue, some more engineering and design interviews with the folks that helped make this operation succeed. The documentary repeatedly tells us how NASA specialists were brought in to help, or consulted in designing, but we hear from precious few of them.

PBS gives this Nova program an average release. The picture and sound were both acceptable, but nothing really stood out. There are no extras, which is where a nice epilogue about the how the lives of the trapped miners were changed after this event should have gone.

This is nothing more than a summary, and maybe for classroom use it could fit the bill. But anyone looking for more details into this amazing story, you might want do do some digging on your own.

The Verdict

Not Guilty.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 80

Perp Profile

Studio: PBS
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• English
Running Time: 60 Minutes
Release Year: 2010
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Documentary
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None

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