As human beings, we tend to have a fascination with other individuals who have overcome difficult circumstances a made a name for themselves. We want to know that even in our darkest hours, there is still possibility for greatness. So many books have been released on these areas of life, and some have even been turned into films. Three of the most famous films are Erin Brockovich, The Pursuit of Happyness, and We Bought a Zoo.
2000 saw the release of the film Erin Brockovich, with Julia Roberts playing the lead. The film was based upon the life of Erin herself, and was incredibly inspirational. Twice divorced and a mother of three, Erin took a job at Masry & Vititoe after they took on her car crash case in which she was seriously injured. She contacted them on numerous times asking for work within their firm as a file clerk, and they eventually offered her a position.
After uncovering medical records from a pro bono real estate case, she was given permission to investigate further; it turned out that the people living in Hinkley, California, had all been exposed to the toxic gas Chromium 6 between the 1960s and 1980s. This led to the biggest law suit of its kind, with Erin and Masry winning the case, and the company in question having to pay out an estimated $330 million to more than 600 of the Hinkley residents. It was the largest legal settlement in US history, and one undertaken by a seemingly average woman.
The 2006 film The Pursuit of Happyness was based on the life of Chris Gardner. He served 4 years in the Navy and afterwards supported his wife and his newborn son in San Francisco by selling medical equipment. In the early 1980’s however, after a chance meeting with Robert Bridges, an employee of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, he discovered the world of investment management and found he could qualify for a brokerage training program. Soon after joining an internship at Dean Witter Reynolds, he became homeless and a single father after his wife left. Determined to make it, he pushed through, using the money he earned during his training on daycare for his son, and sleeping in homeless shelters and visiting soup kitchens to survive. After completing his training he was offered a position at Bear Sterns and launched his own firm Gardner Rich & Co. in 1987.
In 2011 'We Bought a Zoo' satrring Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson was released, which was based on the story of Benjamin Mee and his family. He started a career as a bricklayer and decorator at a young age, but decided that he wanted to follow his passions in life. He began to study and write about animal intelligence, studied Psychology at UCL, and gained an MSc in Science Journalism from Imperial College.
When a zoo came up for sale, he managed to convince his wife and their two young children to join his cause and purchase the dilapidated Dartmoor Zoological Park in 2006. Whilst mourning the death of his wife the following Easter, he still managed to muddle through and the zoo opened in summer 2007.