Based on a true story, the Netflix film “True Spirit” tells the story of Jessica Watson, an Australian teenager who fought against all odds to fulfill her dream of being the youngest person to travel the world’s oceans by herself. As much as we appreciate the spirit of adventure and ambition of teenagers, it would be a lie to say that Jessica Watson’s decision to sail around the world did not make us queasy. Do not get us wrong; we are not undermining her achievement, but just because she was successful does not negate the fact that it was probably irresponsible to let a child take on the kind of challenge she did. But that is the thing about ambition and adventure: they don’t run on common sense; they run on a desire to prove something, not just to the world but also to themselves. Jessica did not just want to sail the world; she wanted to be the youngest person to do so, and this is how her journey plays out.
Jessica’s Journey Across The World’s Oceans
Jessica was probably 10 or 12 years old when she told her family that she wanted to sail around the world. It was the endearing enthusiasm of a child who had made a list of all the tests and courses that she would have to take that led to her parents not saying a word of protest. They probably thought it was a flight of fancy, but a few years later, Jessica was ready to sail the world. She had been trained by Ben Bryant, who was a former captain of the Millennium Cup and had lost one of his crew members named Matt Turner. He had never recovered from that and was intent on leading a quiet life. But the entry of a sweet, little, determined girl into his life had shaken up all that. When Jessica tells him that she is big and strong enough to do what she wants, he tells her that she need not prove anything to him. While this could be construed as the words of a disgruntled adult who did not care too much, for Jessica, it was probably the first time she had not been dismissed completely. Maybe that is why she chose him as her teacher, despite there being others at her school. Before starting their training, Ben tells Jessica that he is going to be as hard on her as he is on himself, but she is up for the challenge; in fact, she welcomes it.
Years later, when she is prepared to fulfill her mission, she must go on something like a test run first, which doesn’t go as smoothly as it should. While Jessica cannot control a cargo ship that is off course, she had forgotten to turn on her alarms because she fell asleep. When this fact comes out in the press conference, it is not looked at kindly. Jessica wants to set sail before November, and she is figuring out how to get her boat repaired before that because her sponsors have been unresponsive, but her dad steps in and helps make it as good as new. However, he is still skeptical about her quest, but that comes from a place of concern for her safety. Despite it all, Jessica perseveres, and finally, the day comes when she sets sail. Her journey is going to span seven months, and she must pass through five countries to reach her destination.
It starts off well with Jessica getting accustomed to life at sea. She finds that her father has packed a lot of frozen broccoli and vegetables for her trip. She constantly keeps in touch with her family, and Ben keeps tabs on the location of her boat. It all looks good, except maybe Jessica’s hair since she forgot to bring a hairbrush and is using a fork to entangle her locks. She finds that her sister got accepted into university and that her brother has started seeing someone. During this scene, we not only see her catching up with her family but also notice the vestiges of loneliness setting in. Jessica comes from a family of six, and she has always had an active life full of people, fun, and vigor. She is fulfilling her dream right now, but this is also the first time that she has been alone in a sort of confined space with very little to do. As the initial thrill of following her heart starts to wear off, she comes face to face with the mental hardships of it. But before that, she has another obstacle to face. A storm is coming, and she must figure out how to battle it. Ben advises her to weather the storm since it is coming towards her as it is too fast for her to outrun it. He tells her how to keep her boat stable and the other necessary instructions. Jessica follows everything he tells her to, except that she forgets to strap herself in. It is a tense night for her family until they hear from her the next day. Jessica tells Ben that she forgot to strap herself in, and he lets her know that such carelessness could be fatal going forward.
Days pass, and there is no wind or waves in the ocean. The sea doesn’t just act up by being volatile; it also punishes with indifference, and this is when Jessica’s loneliness really starts to set in. She begins ignoring calls from home as she is just not in the mood to talk to anyone. However, during one call with Ben, he tells her that she has been going backward and asks her if she has still not turned on her alarms. Jessica replies that she hasn’t, and she is a little too depressed to even acknowledge its importance. When Ben starts telling her about the consequences of such careless behavior, she makes a pointed remark about Matt Turner, which really hurts Ben and leads him to close off emotionally. Later, Julie, Jessica’s mom, encourages her by reminding her of a song she used to sing for her and by telling her that, just like for every other sailor before her, the tide will turn. That propels Jessica to make another entry into her video diaries where she talks about how she is missing home and addresses the less talked about side of following your dreams- the hardships that come with it. Jessica continues on her journey, but this time by learning to enjoy her own company. She comes very close to her destination, but it is then that she has to face her biggest challenge.
‘True Spirit’ Ending Explained: How Does Jessica Successfully Journey Across The World’s Oceans?
There is only one more cape left for Jessica to cover when she gets the news that another storm is approaching. It is going to be far greater than what she has faced previously. Her family tells her to go to the nearest port, but that would mean accepting defeat. However, it is the question of her safety that is causing such a heated debate worldwide. While Jessica is considering her next course of action, she sees the effect her journey has had on people all over the world. That encourages her to come up with an alternative plan. She figures out that if she goes along with the storm, she might be able to make it. Her plan appeals to her siblings, and surprisingly, even her ever-cautious father is on board as he has come to trust her judgment. That is what Jessica does.
This time, she follows each and every instruction from Ben. Her alarms are active, and she is strapped on for safety. But the sea really doesn’t care for the spirit of a little girl. It will continue on its course with whatever force it deems fit. Though the boat keeps violently rocking this way and that, Jessica is safe for the most part—that is, until a wave the size of an “apartment building,” the kind Atherton spoke about, comes her way. She is unable to do anything as the boat capsizes and goes down into the water. They are a brief few minutes, but the world comes collapsing around. Her family gets an alert that the boat is 15 feet underwater, and they start thinking the worst. But call it luck or science, the capsized boat rises up again and sets off on its way. The next day, Jessica calls her family to tell them that she is alright, and that Pink (the boat’s name) saved her. Jessica’s journey is almost over, and soon enough, she reaches home, where close to 80,000 people are waiting to welcome her. The Prime Minister calls her a hero, but she claims that anyone who believes in their dream and works towards it can achieve what she did. What she is referring to is the true spirit of perseverance that helps people find out who they really are.
What Works For ‘True Spirit’ Film?
At Jessica’s press conference after the debacle of her test run, we noticed that she had restless legs. In her final press conference, she looked completely stable. Fulfilling her dreams at sea brought her calm and contentment, which was the start of a lifetime of pursuing dreams.
Once she set sail, there really was no option except to achieve what she wanted. But we can’t help but mention how much we connected with Atherton over anybody else. When he first spoke to her, he might have come across as condescending, but he was not wrong about the dangers he warned her about. In fact, had Jessica known about everything she was going to face, would she have been as brave? Thinking of a child as a child is not the fault of adults; it is their responsibility. The entire world was a part of Jessica’s journey, but it was probably the media people waiting outside the Watsons’ house who knew the dangers she was going through, and they were rightfully concerned. Jessica’s adventure did not just happen just because of her spirit; there was a fair bit of luck involved, and we are ready to die on this hill. Her skeptics were right in not wanting her to go.
But the fact that she did what she did anyway is still admirable. It is not the movie’s fault that the person it is based on was 16 years old. “True Spirit” beautifully captures her journey by showcasing her voyage of emotions as much as the perils of the sea while continuing to be stunning to look at. However, say what you want, but it was still not inspiring. It was an unnecessary risk for a 16-year-old. Either way, it is an easy, breezy watch for a weekend, and for people who hold a different opinion than ours, they can watch this whenever they are feeling a little down with life to get that required dose of motivation we all need once in a while. We still wish she had been a little older, though.
“True Spirit” is a 2023 Drama Biopic film directed by Sarah Spillane.