True Spirit (2023) cover image

True Spirit (2023): a Story of Surviving the Ocean

True Spirit (2023) is an ocean survival story on Netflix. When tenacious young sailor Jessica Watson set out to be the youngest person to sail solo around the world nonstop, many expected her to fail. She was supported by her sailing coach and mentor, Ben Bryant, and her parents.  Jessica was determined to accomplish the impossible: navigating some of the world’s most challenging stretches of the ocean over the course of 210 days.

The opening scene of True Spirit (2023) shows viewers Jessica on a sailboat, sleeping alone in her cabin. She awakens to a loud thud, which turns out to be a hit from a cargo ship. As the ship passes, her sailboat becomes dented and damaged. She calls her father and tells him about her failed practice run. Her parents are concerned about her safety; they fear she might get hurt during her practice run. In addition, the news crew proves to be a big strain on Jessica and her family’s privacy.

There is some representation of women in True Spirit (2023), as Jessica is a young 16-year-old girl who plays the main role. Director Sarah Spillane advocates in action for increasing diversity behind the camera as well, showing the story with nuance. However, most of the cast members are white, which can feel like a baby step toward diversity.

The main plot is classic character versus nature, as Jessica wants to be the first female sailor to sail around the world nonstop. Throughout her journey, her progress is broadcasted on the news. Black subtitles at the bottom show how many days Jessica has been at sea and how many miles she is currently away from home. The family uses a large map on the wall to keep track of Jessica’s progress. On top of loneliness, she also faces obstacles in the ocean such as thunderstorms and rough waters. The climax has Jessica face off against waves 70 feet high.

Looking at the title, True Spirit (2023), viewers can infer themes of determination, courage, and confidence in one’s abilities. Though the goal of sailing around the world alone in 210 days sounds treacherous to many viewers, it brings out the adventurous spirit here. The epilogue shows that this movie is based on the true story of Jessica Watson, an inspiring woman worth the watch.



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