Our Survival on Screen series will look at survival and field craft practices in movies and TV. Some are great, others not so much. We break down what’s happening on screen and what viewers should or shouldn’t take away from the production.
A riveting performance from Robert Redford anchors the nautical man vs. nature epic All is Lost. The movie contains no dialogue, but it doesn’t need any as we watch Redford’s character battle the wrath of the sea and its creatures with increasing vigor and desperation.
The movie starts with Redford’s character waking up to find that a stray shipping container in the Indian Ocean has hit his boat. The collision is only the start of a chain of events testing the sailor’s know-how and his ability to adapt in an ever-changing emergency.
After he frees his boat and repairs the leak, he is beset by tropical storm. With his radio rendered useless from water damage, he makes an attempt to sail his way out of it, but eventually must abandon ship as the boat capsizes and loses its mast.
The sailor must survive at sea against constant hardship and what seems like an increasingly hopeless situation. He is pushed to his limits as plans fail, supplies are lost and the ocean constantly acts against him. A scene where he realizes his supply of fresh water sinks the viewer’s spirits just as much as the sailor’s. You really never know throughout the entirety of the movie whether he will live or die.
The blazing message in All is Lost is to improvise, improvise, improvise when it seems like you’re out of options. When your new plan fails, keep improvising and try to make what you have work for you. The sailor’s increasingly clever tactics allow him to last another day, only to be challenged and put into peril again by another subtle or brute force of nature.
All is Lost will have you glued to your screen. As you watch, you’ll wonder again and again whether you could make your way out of the same situations. You won’t be surprised if you end up answering no.
Image credit: Fandango Trailer