There is an incredible true story behind Penguin Bloom, which arrives on Netflix this week.
Hollywood actress Naomi Watts stars as Samantha, a woman whose life is turned upside down when she suffers paralysis after an accident.
Read on to find out more about the remarkable real-life events that inspired the movie.
What is the true story behind Penguin Bloom?
Samantha Bloom was on holiday in Thailand with her husband, Cameron, and their children in 2013 when her life changed forever.
While there, she was enjoying the view from a seemingly safe balcony and leaning against the rail when it broke, causing her to fall six metres.
She broke her back in two places and the injury paralysed her from the chest down.
After the accident, Sam seemed a completely different person. Before, she had been fond of the Great Outdoors, as she was a keen surfer and loved to travel.
But her paralysis plunged her into depression and left her questioning her role not just in the world, but within her own family, too.
When we found Penguin, I realised that I actually could look after something.
A year after the fall, Sam’s kids brought an injured magpie home. It was just a chick and they decided to care for it, giving it the name ‘Penguin’.
Unexpectedly, Sam bonded with Penguin and the bird became a pivotal part of her recovery.
Netflix’s description of the film reads: “Penguin Bloom tells the amazing true story of renewal that occurred when a woman whose life seemed shattered found hope and purpose in her family’s love – and in a bird on its own journey of recovery.”
Walking Dead actor Andrew Lincoln plays Sam’s husband Cameron.
Is there a book of Penguin Bloom?
Yes, the story of Samantha’s accident and recovery was the subject of the best-selling book Penguin Bloom: The Odd Little Bird Who Saved a Family.
Her husband, Cameron, penned the book with Australian author Bradley Trevor Greive.
It was released in 2016.
Where is Sam Bloom today?
Sam is now a champion para surfer – and credits Penguin with giving her the confidence to get back on the waves.
She told RedBull.com in September last year: “I think [Penguin] actually gave me back my confidence. Before that, I thought I was the worst mum, the worst wife, the worst friend – everything.
“When we found Penguin, I realised that I actually could look after something, and I wasn’t as useless as [I] thought I was. She did give me hope in that way – as odd as it is. Penguin’s recovery gave me a sense of purpose.”
Sam got onto the Australian Adaptive Surf Team in 2018. And she went on to win two World Para Surfing Championships, that same year and again last year, in the ‘prone-assist’ category.
She also has her own book, a follow-up to Penguin Bloom, called Sam Bloom: Heartache & Birdsong.
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