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Soul Surfer-Movie Review about Bethany Hamilton

Updated on April 30, 2011

At age 13, Bethany Hamilton was on top of her game-the surfing game.  She was born to two surfer parents in Hawaii, and grew up swimming and surfing as part of her daily activities.  What happened on October 31, 2003 was tragic-a freak shark attack on Halloween Day during a surfing exercise with her best friend, Alana Blanchard.

Alana’s father acted quickly, placing a tourniquet around the remainder of her left arm, while Alana’s brother called 9-1-1 for assistance.  Arriving at the hospital where Bethany’s father was preparing for knee surgery, Dr. Rovinsky, his surgeon, immediately turned his attention on Bethany, saving her life after she lost 60% of her blood.

Story line

Film director, Sean McNamara cast Anna Sophia Robb in the role of Bethany Hamilton, and Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt as her parents:  Tom and Cheri Hamilton.

The film is narrated through the voice of Bethany and it takes the audience from her toddler days splashing in the water to Halloween Eve, when she and best friend, Alana Blanchard, sneak out for midnight surf with a group of boys. 

The film reveals a strong faith as a Christian family that plays an important part in Bethany’s recovery after the loss of her left arm.  It includes several outdoor worship scenes and the relationship that Bethany had with her church youth leader, played by Carrie Underwood in her film debut.

At one point, the emphasis of the movie reflected Bethany’s passion for surfing, as well as her frustration and disappointment in not being able to adequately compete again.  Discouraged, she gives up surfing and joins the mission to Thailand, following the 2004 tsunami that devastated the villages there. 

While in Thailand she realizes that her problems are minuscule in comparison to those who lost more than one arm.  She attaches herself to a little boy who is afraid to go back into the water, after the horror of the tsunami, and is motivated to show him, and the other Thai children, that there is nothing to fear.  Her success in teaching him how to use the surf boards that were sent along with the group from Hawaii reveals to her a higher purpose and excites her to return to her passion. 

On her return to the United States, Bethany discovers that her father has devised a special handle on her surf board that will enable her to dive through the waves without getting pushed off.  Bethany is now in a position to re-enter the surfing competition and does so.

Final Critique

Soul Surfer is the movie based on Bethany’s autobiographical account of the events that turned her world upside down, tested her faith, and motivated her to get on with her life-despite her missing limb.

Inspirational is the one word for this movie.  This is a reflection of a courageous young teen that fought to put some normalcy back into her life, and succeeded in doing so.

This movie shows the remarkable tenacity and courage of this young teen who lost her arm in October 31, 2003 and was back riding the waves in January, 2004.  It is an exciting and emotional film that brought more than one tear to my eye during the course of the movie. 

Veteran actors Quaid and Hunt do well without overtaking the position of where the focus of the film is.  Robb plays the part of Bethany Hamilton sublimely; and Underwood had a role that was well suited for her.

The cinematography is breathtaking.  Filming took place both in Hawaii and Thailand.  The excitement of watching the young women compete was an added bonus.  The final wave at the end of the film was remarkable.

All in all, I enjoyed this film and would highly recommend this movie as an inspirational film for older elementary and above.  The crisis of the shark attack and frantic rush to the hospital might be too much for very young children. 

Soul Surfing

passion for surfing:
passion for surfing: | Source

Soul Surfer: The story behind the film

Trailer: Soul Surfer

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    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Stessily, this is definitely a movie I would see again. I'm glad you enjoyed it as much as I did. Thanks for your comments.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Denise, Having seen this film, I can say that you have provided a fine review. Bethany's story is inspirational. She played herself in all the surfing scenes after the loss of her arm in the movie; she moved with such amazing grace, and her passion for her favourite sport comes through clearly and beautifully.

      Kind regards, Stessily

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      8 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Sunshine-thanks for stopping by and giving me some feedback. I appreciate it. Wow, what fun to go to a free screening for a movie. It's too bad about having to leave b/c of the shark attack scene. :(

      Rastamermaid-I agree about Bethany being an inspiration. She has chutzpah! Thanks for your comments.

    • Rastamermaid profile image


      8 years ago from Universe

      Awesome hub about an awesome movie!

      This is a very inspiring movie,I will be watching it again with my son.

      Bethany is truly an inspiration.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      8 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Hi Denise, I went to a free screening of this movie and we left halfway through. You were correct about the shark attack not being good for granddaughter freaked out and still remembers the scene. She's 4yrs old. I didn't think the scene would be the most dramatic part of the movie since the rest of the movie was soooooo slow. Nice review! Voted UP!!!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank YOU, Jo for being the first to comment. LOL Sometimes things get missed but when one puts the effort into the writing it is nice to get the feedback. I know you will enjoy the flick. It was quite enjoyable and I would see it again.

    • Jo_Goldsmith11 profile image


      9 years ago

      Really cool! I will have to check this movie out. This is a great story that shows the courage and the determination of spirit! Thank you for sharing! voted up and shared! :-)


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