Cast Away stars Tom Hanks as Chuck, a FedEx employee who travels worldwide to check in on FedEx’s global facilities. During one of his business trips, Chuck’s plane crashes and he must survive alone on a deserted island.
Chuck lives by the motto “never lose track of time”. Time rules his life and governs his every decision. It is the reason for the success of his business, and his job is to make sure everyone in the company is using their time effectively and efficiently. The importance of time in Chuck’s life is stressed during his Christmas holidays when he is called away to work. The look of dread that crosses the face of Chuck and his girlfriend Kelly when his pager goes off during Christmas dinner signifies time’s role in Chuck’s life. The gifts exchanged by Chuck and Kelly reflect this; Chuck receives a pocket watch and Kelly a pager. After he is stranded on the island, time becomes less important and is made secondary to survival. However, time is still shown to have an impact on Chuck’s life with Chuck’s calendar. This calendar is essential to Chuck’s departure from the island as he is able to plot the patterns of the tides and winds and discover the optimal time to plan his escape. Even after he is rescued, Chuck finds that his life is no longer the same. His girlfriend has moved on, his friend’s wife has died and his life has become a victim to the passing time. The role of time is stressed throughout the film, and emphasizes that people are all slaves to time.
The scene that stood out the most to me was the airplane crash scene. The film doesn’t simply cut from the start of the crash to the aftermath; rather, the audience is given a full view of the events that transpire. The dangers continue to build up throughout the scene, from the falling luggage to the watery crash itself. The life-raft is then caught on plane fuselage, and once it is free it is steered into the path of a plane propeller. Chuck survives danger after danger, and by the end he can barely keep consciousness. My favourite moment of the film was the transition from the storm to the morning after. Chuck is safe from the immediate danger of the crash, and is laying exhausted in the life-raft. The scene transitions with blinking black screens to signify Chuck’s eyes as he slowly loses consciousness due to exhaustion. As he slowly passes out, the black screens become more frequent until they finally overtake the scene, and suddenly it is the morning after.
I will admit that I am torn with the last quarter of the film that depicts the events after Chuck’s escape from the island. The film goes an unusual route after the emotional high of the film, and delves into the events that transpire after Chuck’s rescue. Chuck has been rescued and is back in civilization, but that does not mean his story ends. I like that the film continued after his rescue, showing how Chuck’s disappearance affected his friends and family, and how things can’t simply go back to how they were before the accident. This unique look differs from most films; typically the protagonist is given a happy ending after his emotional ordeal, and the movie ends. This would have culminated with Chuck’s rescue and his re-connection with Kelly. However, the film takes a different turn by showing Chuck will not simply experience his expected happy ending. While I applaud the film for going this route, I did find myself somewhat bored near the ending. The film slows down considerably after Chuck’s rescue, and after experiencing his emotional journey it is difficult to stay invested in the film at this point.
I will say that Tom Hanks puts on a fantastic performance as Chuck in Cast Away. For the majority of the film, Chuck is the only character on screen, which prevents Hanks from working off of other characters. The introduction of Wilson the volleyball helps showcase Chuck’s descent from rational manager to crazy island hermit, but Hanks excels in his solitary role. He manages to turn a crazy man yelling at a forest into a fine acting display, and the film is all the better for it.
Cody – 8/10