Films that take us on a journey involving survival against incredible odds are always inspiring, and 6 Below is one of them.
Based on the true life story of former Olympian champion ice hockey player, Eric LeMarque (Josh Hartnett), it follows his plight when he is at low ebb in his life and decides to take time out in California’s remote Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Eric’s decision to take off on his own is motivated by a desire to escape the demons that have been crushing him. He is in the grip of a serious drug addiction and has a court date coming up. He is desperate to conquer the mess that is his current life, but his idea of a fun day snowboarding turns into a living hell when blizzards strike and his communication devices have no network.
Eric has to ward off attacks from bears and wolves, and when he falls into an ice hole it is truly terrifying to see him trapped under the ice.
However, this is a turning point in the film. He grabs his ziplock bag of drugs to save them, but once he manages to free himself from the ice he makes the momentous decision to ditch his drugs, marking the start of his attempt to recover his life.
We see many flashbacks from his boyhood as a champion soccer player with his father David (Jason Cottle) as the coach. David is a perfectionist and a bully, and we shudder at his treatment of his talented and sensitive son. With an abusive father, it’s understandable that later Eric’s life unravels and he descends into severe addiction.
His mother Susan (Mira Sorvino) is the mainstay of his life who hangs in there through Eric’s difficulties. A fervent Christian, we see her praying for Eric, and while he is lost he has a sense that he is not alone and that his mother is interceding for him with God.
During his eight days of being lost, we hear Eric’s thoughts, including the thought that “sometimes a part of yourself has to die before you can live again”, an obviously biblical thought that seems to show Eric that there is a way forward to survival for both his body and his soul.
Survival in these conditions beyond a few days is very rare, but Eric is determined that he will survive and is conscious that he is not alone in his struggles.
Susan’s faith in both her son and her God is impressive to watch as she hounds search and rescue coordinator Sarah (Sarah Dumont) to keep looking, even when the search mission becomes a body recovery one.
Eric does survive, although he loses both legs below the knees. But he continues to run on prosthetic legs, is married with sons, coaches their junior hockey team, and is now an inspirational speaker giving back to society after his own narrow survival.
Highlight: Bravura performance from Josh Hartnett
Red flags: Drug addiction, partial nudity
Thanks to Defiant Screen Entertainment, Warcry has five DVD copies of 6 Below to give away. For your chance to win, enter by 5 March.