Five Movies That Saved A Life

Five Movies That Saved A Life film still

LWLies looks at five occasions where movies have proven to be the most powerful medicine.

Can movies actually save lives? Can they physically drag newborns from burning buildings? Can they resuscitate a scamp who drowned at the local lido? Can they administer life-saving drugs at that pivotal moment? Well no, of course they can't. They're inanimate objects. But working alongside the super-inspiring folks spearheading the Not For Rental exhibition made us take a deeper look to confirm this wacky hypothesis. It turns out that films can save lives, and here's how…


1.Toy Story

Walter Marino and his son Christopher were swimming at Daytona Beach when the 12-year-old, who is autistic, was swept away by the current. As choppy waters pulled father and son apart, they kept each other going by repeating a line from Toy Story. "To infinity," the father would yell. "And beyond!” Christopher would finish. For 15 hours, the pair treaded water in the Atlantic, but Christopher eventually drifted out of earshot. They were rescued the next morning by different boats, eight miles out to sea and one mile apart from each other. "Buzz Lightyear got us through," the father said after the 2008 incident.


2. Lethal Weapon 2

US Senator Rob Portman was kayaking in Chile last year when rapids flipped him and dislocated his shoulder. His son had disappeared around the bend and the 56-year-old was holding onto a rock “for my dear life,” wondering how to reach shore with one arm working. Portman remembered the scene when Mel Gibson’s character escapes a straitjacket by intentionally dislocating his shoulder, then slams against a file cabinet to get it back into place. “Honestly, that was what flashed through my mind—Mel Gibson. So I took my shoulder, slammed it against the rock, and the shoulder popped in. I couldn’t feel my arm, but I could use my arm. I was able to swim to shore.”


3. 127 Hours

After seeing James Franco’s character amputate his own arm with a blunt penknife, Jane Kleinman, who trains future doctors and nurses in Los Angeles, had to find out who created the arm, whose fake bones, tendons, muscle groups and layers of skin and fat were indistinguishable from real flesh and blood. Her search led to Tony Gardner, one of Hollywood’s top special effects men. Together they now make silicone training aids that are used in university hospitals, including one that teached staff how to save infants’ lives. "It's incredible for a guy like me, whose worked in film for years, to realise that the stuff we do can also affect people in the real world, in a life-or-death situation," Gardner told The Independent.


4. Mad Max: Road Warrior

Psychotherapist David J. Bookbinder was riding a motorcycle on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway when a tractor-trailer on his right and a Cadillac on my left began converging into the space that he and his Yamaha were occupying. As the Caddy closed in, Bookbinder remembered a scene from Road Warrior where Mel Gibson’s Mad Max is being chased by two guys on motorbikes wielding cross bows. Max pushes his police cruiser into overdrive and the thugs collided in the space he occupied a split second earlier. His 200cc two-stroke lacked overdrive so instead Bookbinder hit his brakes an watched as the two larger vehicles veered into each other and away.


5. West Of Memphis

The Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson saved an Arkansas man from death row with an investigation into the triple slaying of three cub scouts. Three teens, known as the West Memphis Three, were convicted. One of the three had confessed, but later recanted. After seeing a documentary about the case "Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills," Jackson and his wife, Fran Walsh, hired forensics experts, gathered DNA evidence and tracked down witnesses to show the prosecution had convicted innocent men. The investigation done for the film, "West of Memphis" led to the release of the West Memphis Three, including Damien Echols who had been sentenced to death.

6. Bonus!

No film saved their lives, but movies have helped them through tough times. Our friends Timba Smits (LWLies 48 cover artist) and "Flash" Gordon Shaw have created Not For Rental, a 10-day, 200 artist, movie-inspired exhibition featuring more than 200 artists to raise money for Art Against Knives and Macmillan Cancer Support. It all starts at on July 4 at 71a Gallery (aka LWLies HQ). Please join us and together we can change a few lives. For more details, visit

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