All Is Lost (2013)

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Gary Cooper once said that he loved doing Westerns, in fact he preferred doing them, because they were so grounded in reality. You couldn’t fake mounting a horse, you had to really do it. You couldn’t fake riding, you had to really do it. It stripped away the sometimes phony ballast of acting, leaving you, the actor, in a position where you HAD to deal with reality, almost like an athlete has to deal with reality. There’s no faking swinging a baseball bat.

Robert Redford’s non-movie-star performance in All is Lost reminded me of Gary Cooper’s comment. It’s not that he’s not acting: of course he is. He is reacting to fake stimuli, and imaginary circumstances. But the performance is based around doing, not feeling. There are a couple of moments of sheer feeling, but that’s it. Everything else is problem-solving, surviving, and improvising his way out of one disaster after another. He’s the only human being in the movie. There are no flashbacks to what his life was before. There are not inner-monologues, no voiceovers (except for the opening, which is a Farewell letter, so no spoilers), not even a slow pan across the yacht below-decks area, showing family photographs and memorabilia from his life. None of that. He is completely unconnected from his past. Of course he has a past. We just are not privy to it. Unlike Gravity, which gives the heroine a back story (something I did not have a problem with, although I can see why others did), All is Lost unmoors itself from traditional storytelling arcs, and has faith that one man’s struggle against the elements will hold our interest, without giving us a hook via character/motivation/back story to keep us invested.

It was a risk (I would love to see what the screenplay actually looked like on the page), and it paid off. I know nothing about yachting or sailing. I do not know if he is a good problem-solver or a poor one. I saw a comment on some review of the film where a seasoned yachter sneered at how “incompetent” the character was on basic yachting skills, and how that made the film unbelievable. I actually found that comment unbelievable. Because maybe he wasn’t supposed to be Mr. Yacht Expert. We have no way of knowing. Maybe he WAS incompetent. Your guess is as good as mine. And since I know nothing about boating, I didn’t even know if I was asking the proper questions as I watched the film. My main question was: “Why the hell is he in the middle of the Indian Ocean?” Maybe yachting aficionados could weigh in. Is that considered to be a dangerous foolhardy thing to do? Or is it par for the course for retired millionaires who love being out on the water? No idea. None of these questions meant I had to “suspend disbelief” – because there are no answers in the film anyway. And if he WAS incompetent … then why wouldn’t that be a valid thing to put onscreen, Mr. Yachting Expert commenter? I know, I know, the commenter just wanted to show his knowledge, I get it. But the information we are given in All is Lost is completely sparse. He is out in the middle of the Indian Ocean, by himself. When things start to go south (almost immediately), he has to improvise his way out of it. When his instrumentation is damaged, he pulls out a book called NAVIGATING BY THE STARS and starts to teach it to himself. He has a sextant on board, but it’s still in the box and wrapped in plastic. So, you know, I put that together and think, Well maybe this was just an expensive hobby, and he liked the outward aspects of it (having a boat, having the freedom) but was a novice in the more elemental facts of navigation. Seems like that would be true of a lot of boaters today, technology being what it is.

All of this is neither here nor there, although it is interesting and I kept thinking about it after the film. I kept wondering about that guy. Because he is played by Robert Redford, we already come to him with all kinds of associations, powerful, resonant. Half of the film is us projecting all of our stuff onto him. The great movie stars all may be talented charismatic individuals but what they all do best is act as projector screens for our associations/dreams. That was what was going on for me watching Redford in this film. I kept seeing him in Butch Cassidy and The Way We Were and The Sting and all the rest, but he is old now, and his skin shows the wear and tear of too much sun, and he’s got age spots, and creaky knees, but he’s still Robert Redford, a powerful compelling onscreen presence.

The film starts out with the disastrous event (not to mention the film’s totally discouraging title), and then we back into how he got to that point. I have a tremendous fear of drowning, and being lost at sea in bad weather, so the film worked on a primal level that was uncomfortable in the extreme. The first storm that hits was filmed so perfectly (and you barely see any of the storm itself, you just HEAR it), that I felt like I was on that boat and I felt terror. This was done through suggestion mostly. You didn’t get CGI landscapes of mountainous waves. You just heard the shrieking of the wind, the blast of the spray, and the sound of the wood of the boat cracking and splitting apart. It went on forever.

The accident that prompts all of the problems is the yacht, in a dead-calm, drifting, rams into an abandoned cargo container that obviously had fallen off of Captain Phillips’ cargo ship earlier that week. The collision rips a hole in the side of the yacht and water pours through. This is the first 5 minutes of the film. I scanned Redford’s face for news of how bad it was, was this fix-able, was this The End? He gave no answers. He was too busy trying to handle the damn problem, no time for expressive emoting. That slightly mysterious aspect to his performance is one of the reasons why the film feels so real. People in the midst of disasters do not take time out of the disaster to cry or rage. More often than not they band together to try to fix the problem, their faces serious and focused. Any catharsis will come later. So All is Lost works on that level for the audience: I yearned for a catharsis, I yearned for a moment when I could relax, when he could relax, when he could let go of his hyper-vigilance and allow himself some feelings about it. The fact that the film denies me that is one of its aces in the hole. There are times when the tension actually became unbearable. Literally. I was uncomfortable in my seat, I wanted to get up and flee, I wanted the whole thing to fucking END.

I’m thinking, again, of my experience watching the documentary Touching the Void, which I mentioned when I discussed Gravity. Touching the Void touched off a similar series of thoughts: How would I do in such a situation? Would I hold it together? Would I be able to keep improvising? Would I crumble under the pressure?

Another bold choice in the film has to do with its spare and effective use of the score. The score is barely there. There is no rousing underscoring, letting us know the stakes, or the fact that he is almost finished with such-and-such task and it’s a real nail-biter and will he succeed?? None of that. We just hear the wind, the slapping of the waves. It’s brutal. So the couple of times the score comes in it is usually when the camera suddenly takes a more omniscient view of events: the liferaft seen from below, for example, with schools of fish flowing by, and sharks circling in the deep (incredible shot). Or the sudden long-shot of thunderclouds gathering on the horizon. These are moments where we are removed, suddenly, from the totally subjective experience of seeing the film through Redford’s eyes, and given a glimpse of his small-ness in the face of events, his fragility and vulnerability. The score is not emotional so much as it is an ominous heartbeat. It sounds like the dread that he has been trying to keep at bay, suddenly rising up from below.

The ending of All is Lost, when it comes, is a stunner. I staggered out of the theatre, an emotional wreck.

Hats off.

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40 Responses to All Is Lost (2013)

  1. Craig Simpson says:

    Ah, great write-up. I’ve been half-joking that ALL IS LOST is GRAVITY without George Clooney bopping around saying, “Hey, baby, we’re in outer space!” I like both films, but there’s something elemental about Redford’s plight that you convey very well.

    • sheila says:

      Thanks, Craig!

      Yeah, it really is just Man Against Nature here, Man Against Himself. Nothing extraneous. Pretty amazing they pulled it off!

  2. Paul says:

    Sounds like a good movie. I’m not an expert, but it is far from unusual for people to do solo around-the-world voyages. One enjoyable book on the topic is ‘Maiden Voyage’ – about a 16 year old girl who sails around the world on her own – and I believe she had very little sailing experience when she started.

    The biggest risk in general on these trips is getting smashed apart by a container ship in your sleep – as there is no way to be on watch 24-7 (radar helps but only to an extent). My biggest specific concern with the Indian ocean would probably be piracy – the area is known for that (at least along the African coast). There are a number of places in the world with far worse weather.

    • sheila says:

      Paul – there’s a doc coming out soon about that 16 year old girl! I can’t remember the name – maybe it is Maiden Voyage. I’ll check.

      Thanks for the perspective. What you describe as the biggest risk is exactly what happens. He’s sleeping and then CRASH. Dead calm. Really alarming.

      One of the ways he uses the sextant is to get himself into the more crowded shipping lane where he could possibly get rescued. No threat of pirates – at least that threat is not named. He’s far off the coast of Sumatra, if I recall correctly. The danger is really more about the hole in the boat, patching it up, and making it through the intermittent storms intact.

      Have you seen Captain Phillips yet?

  3. Jason Bellamy says:

    I think Mr. Yachting Expert misses Roger.

    • sheila says:

      hahahahahaha Hi Jason!!

      I was so happy that one of my last reviews over there for The Motel Life didn’t cause ANY one to say “I miss Roger.” A minor triumph.

  4. Fiddlin Bill says:

    It strikes me that the question of whether the Redford character is a duffer or an expert sailor would surely speak to the overall meaning of the story. A duffer who goes out beyond his depth (literally!) is a kind of fool, and the story then would be a story of folly. But an expert dealing with things at the peak of his competence would be a different sort of story. Here’s an example of the expert: when Chuck Yeager loses control of the rocket plane at 100,000 feet (as accounted in “The Right Stuff” I think), and then systematically deals with each dimension of the problem as he hurtles to the ground–in his case actually succeeding in not crashing, although the chance of crashing is high. Anyways… not saying the commenter wasn’t perhaps too arch, or that this aspect of the Redford character is not the primary one in the film. But this sort of “issue” can be a problem in movies where other more or less expert viewers are watching. (I’m often bothered by the fake fiddling in many movies, as it’s easy to spot of you actually do it.) :-)

    • sheila says:

      Bill – I agree with you. The fact that it is not made clear (was he a good sailor or a dumb one) was kind of interesting, and I do think an “expert” viewpoint would be good. The problem with said expert viewpoint is that it seemed to feel that we were supposed to ADMIRE Redford’s character as opposed to judge him. But I don’t feel that that opinion is supportable: we are given no indication that this is a guy in over his head, OR that this is a guy brilliant at yachting. That information simply is not present.

      It’s been kind of fun to watch people fact-check GRAVITY – astronauts, etc. – but many of them say, in the end, it doesn’t matter, it’s a good picture anyway. I’d love to read an analysis of ALL IS LOST by an experienced yachtsman and hear the viewpoint. I just don’t have enough information!

      But I agree that knowing a bit more about the topic would make the story look different. Even have a different meaning!

      As a baseball fan, I am often dismayed by actors playing baseball players. They just don’t look right, often. Ray Liotta in Field of Dreams is an exception. He looked like he had been BORN with a glove on his hand. :)

  5. bybee says:

    I came out of this movie so exhausted from concentrating so hard. I want to see it again, but it was hard work.

    The Korean movie poster for All is Lost just shows the expanse of the sea and the little reddish orange lifeboat with the top zipped floating in the foreground. No Redford.

    • sheila says:

      Wow! I’m going to look up that poster – sounds stunning.

      I know what you mean – it is not in any way an easy movie. Very uncomfortable!!

  6. Fiddlin Bill says:

    Two good reads: there’s a book somewhere’s called “Total Loss,” which contains about 50 short, true accounts of sailing events in which the ship is lost. Some of these stories are remarkable, and they have the rather nice aspect that they are all told by the captains–that is, the folks survive. There’s also somewhere a really amazing story of a WW II German vet who single-handedly sails across the Atlantic to (eventually) some small Caribbean island in a kayak. He believed, correctly, that survival in such circumstances was a matter among other things of enormous mental discipline, and he’d prepared himself in that regard as well as being in very very good physical shape. My favorite part of this book is when he paddles up onto shore–he gets a great welcome once people realize where he comes from and what he’s done. This solo crossing happened in the mid-’50s I think.

  7. Fiddlin Bill says:

    PS– Hans Lindemann, “Alone at Sea”: “While he wasn’t the first to cross the Atlantic by kayak, the German’s expedition has gained the greatest notoriety among contemporary paddlers because he published a written record of his epic crossing (2), Alone at Sea. Lasting over 72 days, from Oct. 20 to Dec. 30, 1956, he traveled between Las Palmas in the Canary Islands and St. Martin’s, the Bahamas, in a 17’1″ folding Klepper, the Liberia III.” http://www.expeditionkayak.com/chronology-of-sea-kayaking/

  8. tracey says:

    I just watched this today, Sheila, and I had to pause it numerous times to calm myself down, telling myself, “Oh, I think I need to go to the bathroom,” even if I didn’t. I went to the bathroom, like, 5 times in less than 2 hours simply because I had to calm my damn self down. Redford’s amazing. I was totally engrossed in what he was doing even if I — as a non-boating person too — didn’t understand what he was really doing or why he was doing it. In a way, for me, asking myself questions about what he was doing lessened the stress of the experience. I also found myself obsessed with his rings. Since there was zero backstory to this man, which I loved, actually, I loved him being a blank kind of Everyman, I found myself laser focused on those rings and wondering what they might mean — a turquoise ring on his left hand, a wedding-type band on his right hand. I wondered about that a lot, that wedding band on the wrong hand. The ending — almost unendurable, those last 5-10 minutes. I thought I was going to burst.

    I don’t know why I’m drawn to seafaring disaster stories since it’s such a phobia of mine. I’d like to say it’s “confronting my fears” but it’s not so noble since I’m doing literally nothing when I’m watching a movie like this or reading about that loony-toons/genius Magellan. Maybe it’s more like taking my fears out for a play date and letting them run wild for a while. I don’t even know if it’s healthy and I don’t care — not after a stunning movie like this. Nightmares be damned!

  9. tracey says:

    I meant to add something else: I believe he wore a watch and there was also a braided leather bracelet and another “friendship-type” woven bracelet on the same wrist. I noticed the bracelets more than the watch because watches for a lot of men tend to be utilitarian, something they need, not something super personal, necessarily. The rings and the bracelets, though, were the only things that suggested to me any sort of backstory to this man. He wore more jewelry than most men, but of a certain kind, a bohemian kind, which suggests more of a hippie or vagabond soul. (I don’t know. I’m just musing aloud here.) I found myself wondering if the boat was actually his or if he’d borrowed the boat from a friend, if he knew what he was doing, if he didn’t. But that jewelry. That jewelry was saying something. A different kind of man wears a big silver and turquoise ring. He wasn’t some Wall Street millionaire, not to me, anyway.

  10. tracey says:

    Okay, my God, I’m still blathering on here. Can you tell I JUST saw it?? I’m thinking about your point about this being a movie about doing, not feeling, and I’m realizing that I think I saw Redford’s HANDS as much as I saw his face in this movie. His hands were doing, doing, doing. His whole person was, yes, but I can’t help but believe the embellishments on those hands were very deliberate. Even though we didn’t know who the character was, it seems clear to me that Redford knew exactly who this guy was.

    Sorry for all the disjointed comments. Just mulling it over.

    • sheila says:

      Never apologize!! This was AMAZING to read. I’m with you – the last 5 minutes of the film I thought my heart would burst too. And that final shot. I was a wreck!!

      The rings! Now I need to see the film again immediately. I LOVE your observations, Tracey. Dare I say, even if I didn’t know you were an actress, I could TELL that you were from such observations – that is an actress’ eye for character and subtext and detail.

      Yes, the hands. So important.

      The doing. All about the doing. The feelings left entirely for us out in the darkness. So powerful.

  11. tracey says:

    /The doing. All about the doing. The feelings left entirely for us out in the darkness. So powerful./

    YES!

    “Don’t hog all the emotion,” as my beloved college director said. “Don’t be an emotional pickpocket.”

    • sheila says:

      I love that!

      and the fact that the film was all about the doing made the last 5 minutes – and hell, the very last shot – so powerful. Feeling just EXPLODED in me when I saw that last image.

      • tracey says:

        Yes, that last shot. I had to go back and watch it again just to make sure that I saw what I saw, you know? I was girding my loins for something else entirely. I was SO invested at that point, so desperate for it to go a certain way that I was literally yelling at the screen in the moments before that last shot, just PISSED, so PISSED.

        • sheila says:

          I know – up until the very last second I thought “all was lost” as the title says.

          And just the WAY it was filmed – that hand reaching out …

          Have goosebumps all over again.

  12. tracey says:

    Apropos of nothing, I suppose, but I thought that lifeboat of his was pretty nifty — the way it zipped and all. Although it lulled me into a false sense of security for a bit: “Oh, look at that. He’s got a roof over his head. Everything’s fine!”

    • sheila says:

      I know! Kinda cozy.

      When he realizes that he has no water, that that bucket had a leak, or spilled ….

      devastating. Death.

      • tracey says:

        Yeah. It took me a bit to figure out what he was doing with that condensation thing with the plastic, etc. Didn’t pay attention in science, I guess.

        (I would so die on, like, Day 1.)

        • sheila says:

          Oh I would so be dead. I remember watching the condensation moment and thinking, “Well. Keep that in the back of your mind should you ever need it, Sheila.” Jeepers.

  13. sheila says:

    Tracey – have you seen Captain Phillips yet?

  14. tracey says:

    No, I haven’t, but that’s just out on Amazon, too, so I’m planning on catching it this week. It was between Captain Phillips and All is Lost and I went with Redford first. I mean, come on, he’s REDFORD.

    Sorry, Tom Hanks. I went with my shallow shallow gut, but you’re up next.

    • sheila says:

      Wait until you see the last 10 minutes of THAT film. The best work of Hanks’ career, certainly, and the best acting moment I’ve seen all year, and that’s saying something. I have no other words ….

      It’s unclassifiable. It’s not a big cathartic moment, it’s not a teary-eyed hug or anything – it is something else entirely, something I have never seen on film before, at least not in that way.

      The second you see it you’ll know what I mean.

  15. Rory says:

    THIS COMMENT CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS!

    I have been thinking a lot about All Is Lost since I watched it last week. I was very taken with the film.

    For me, it helped greatly to see the film as allegorical. (This is only my musings afterwards, mind.) It meant I wasn’t so bothered about whether there was any accuracy in the technique involved. Perhaps he wasn’t an expert – most likely he wasn’t. The point is that we are all sailing our little boat alone. We all have to navigate through this life. Yes we have friends and family, but ultimately we are alone, and have to deal with circumstances in our own way. Storms come and kick us around, and we struggle to survive, one way or another. Perhaps “our man” is even out there in an attempt to get away from whatever problems vex him in life. He certainly seemed to be dealing with problems in a calm and quiet way – dealing with them as they arose rather than worrying about them in advance. Every man’s life is a quest to find some sort of truth. Perhaps his rings and wrist bands hint at a new-agey, bohemian leaning in this quest of his. His introductory voice-over suggests there are certain regrets.

    Eventually his vessel is buffeted so brutally by the storm that he is forced to downsize. He grabs only the essentials and escapes in a life-raft before his vessel goes down. He cobbles together a water supply, he navigates by the stars, he is still relying very much on his own wits, though things are fast slipping away from him

    The initial damage to his vessel is done by a container – capitalism, consumerism, commercialism, whatever. A container full of running shoes, useless out on the open seas, (unless someone can walk on water…). Once he manages to drift into the shipping lanes he finds that his tiny vessel is completely missed by the huge container ships that pass him by. He doesn’t exist. Above him the commercial giants ignore him, and below him are the sharks.

    As another night descends upon him, and hope has all but faded, he suddenly becomes aware of a flicker of light in the distance. In his effort to make his existence known, all he has left goes up in flames. Now he has lost everything, and he resigns himself to his fate – he looks at peace as he floats down.

    And (only) when all is lost…

    I’m not necessarily talking about God – depending on what one’s definition of “God” might be – but the message seemed to be a spiritual one, that it is only when we have let go of everything that we will find what we didn’t know we were looking for.

    I haven’t said everything in the way that it is going on in my head, but I’m sure you get the sense of what I am meaning. I mean, anyone who tries to pick it apart with literalism is missing the point entirely.

    Finally, I have only just discovered your writings, Sheila, and I think I shall enjoy them immensely. I shall certainly add you to my RSS feed.

    Thank you for a lovely review of All Is Lost

    • sheila says:

      Rory – thank you so much for your beautiful comment and analysis. I think the film definitely works in an allegorical way – partly because we don’t know anything about him and so we can project all kinds of stuff onto him. And that final shot – of the hand reaching down through the water – I know that my initial reaction to it (I felt like my heart would burst from joy) had something very primal in it, something that, yes, had to do with this character being saved – but it felt PERSONAL.

      Thank you for reading and commenting!!

  16. Jessie says:

    Sheila, I just got done watching this. Actually what I JUST got done doing was crying and shaking. Thing is my dad and his partner left a few weeks ago on their years-long cruising trip around the country. Watching this I felt like I was doing a pretty good job of divorcing myself from the situation but in retrospect — well I’ve just realised that when he pulls out that sextant with its gift card I entirely and completely assumed it was a gift from his daughter. So I guess I wasn’t as clever as I thought I was. The second the screen went black I lost it. I lost ALL of it!

    But I raced here because I remembered you wrote you had a strong emotional reaction to the end. I love what you write about projection. How tightly contained the information and emotion was and you just invest your whole self in trying to read and understand it — and you don’t realise you’re as tightly strapped down until the end when you have permission to let go. What an extraordinary gambit but it pays off beautifully. Amazing work by all professionals involved.

    As for his expertise, we didn’t really get a chance to see him do a lot of sailing — it was all responding to crises. As a non-expert but boatie-adjacent person I thought his major mistake was putting the storm jib up way too late. Trying to swap them in that weather would have been nigh impossible, and because he failed halfway through he couldn’t heave to, which is a way of kind of balancing yourself against the wind, and which he didn’t need the storm jib for anyway. Had he heaved to he might never have rolled, might never have snapped his mast. And I thought it odd that he didn’t have a smoke flare to use during the day, much more effective. But on the whole & right from the start — I thought he was clever and resourceful. Seeing Redford’s eyes dart around — evaluate, prioritise, decide — that was magnificent.

    • sheila says:

      // How tightly contained the information and emotion was and you just invest your whole self in trying to read and understand it — and you don’t realise you’re as tightly strapped down until the end when you have permission to let go. What an extraordinary gambit but it pays off beautifully. //

      Totally! The whole film is like this coiled fist of tension and then in those final moments, the final shot, really, the tension is released and I was like you – I just sobbed! i still have goosebumps thinking about it. That hand reaching down through the darkness – BAH!

  17. Todd Restler says:

    Finally got to this, late to the party as usual.

    Absolutely riveting film. Ebert used to say that one of the most interesting things in cinema is to stand back and actually watch someone problem solve. To quote his review of Cast Away, regarding Hanks’ time on the island:

    “I find it fascinating when a movie just watches somebody doing something. Actual work is more interesting than most plots. ”

    Watching Redford respond to one calamity after another was spellbinding. The movie created a real sense of claustraphobia in me, which is strange considering that it takes place in the vast expanse of the Ocean.

    It’s a risk, one actor, no dialogue, no backstory. It works because the filmmaking puts US, the VIEWER, into his fate, so that it feels like we are on the boat with him. We only see what he see, only know what he knows, so in a way we BECOME Redford, and the events seem to be happening to US. This is a tricky feat, and much easier said then done. Great job.

    I have one minor complaint, and a thought. My complaint has to do with the very end of the film. (SPOILER) The “rescue”, while stunningly filmed, seemed to me to be quite unlikely, given that he had passsed through the shippping lanes and was in a really remote area. Sure enough, in reading more about the film, both Redford and the Director basically said it’s an “open to interpretation” ending.

    Did he really get rescued? Was that final boat a mirage, the last wishful thinking images of a drowning man? I first took it at face value, but now I think he drowned. I wish the movie was definitive. The reality is that the last shot of the movie should have been Redord sinking into oblivion, but it’s almost like the filmmakers thought the audience couldn’t handle it, so they tacken on a “Hollywood” ending. “Choose your own Ending” movies can often work, but here it felt like a cop out to me. Doesn’t ruin a great film, but I have a problem with it. It should have ended like Open Water, a movie that shook me up deeply.

    My other thought while watching it was that the whole movie could have been filmed in a Point of View shot, with NO actors, so that the experience would be even more visceral. I’m not sure if anything like that has ever been done, if anyone has even tried it, and if it’s even possible to market a movie like that, but I thought it would have been appropiate for this film, because that’s how it was working on me anyway.

    Excellent film, and I am excited by the originality and daring, which seem to SLOWLY be making a cinematic comeback.

    • sheila says:

      // It’s a risk, one actor, no dialogue, no backstory. It works because the filmmaking puts US, the VIEWER, into his fate, so that it feels like we are on the boat with him. We only see what he see, only know what he knows, so in a way we BECOME Redford, and the events seem to be happening to US. This is a tricky feat, and much easier said then done. Great job. //

      I totally agree.

      Any sort of problem-solving survivalist story brings up really strong feelings in me – in any viewer – How would I fare in this situation? Would I think to do that? Would I be one of the ones who crumpled up helplessly or do I have reserves of strength that I don’t even know about? What would break me? How would I handle that level of stress and fear?

      I think because I am not a sailor in any way, and know nothing about boats – I found All Is Lost even more stressful.

      I went to a press screening last night of Unbroken and had similar feelings. There’s a guy on their life-raft who caves the first night – and eats up all the chocolate that they have. The only food on the life-raft. Obviously everyone hopes that you would not be “that guy” who would act like that – but these types of stories really suggest that you honestly don’t know who you “would be” in such moments until you are tested.

  18. Sheila says:

    Todd- many more thoughts later on your observations! Great stuff! But quickly: Dark Passage was mostly POV- bandaged Bogart, see most of film only thru his eyes. Bold!! To have a film starring Bogart and you barely see him??

    More later!

  19. Todd Restler says:

    Ooooh, so it has been done. I am not familiar with that one, maybe I will check it out. I wonder how it was received? It’s an interesting concept to me.

    • sheila says:

      Yeah, it’s really weird because it’s a Bogart and Bacall movie, right? so Bogart is a huge huge star and the first half (maybe more?) of the movie – you never see him. It’s all from his point of view, his “eyes” are the camera. It’s really quite abstract.

      Wonderful film – filmed on location in San Francisco. Definitely check it out, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it so I should see it again too.

      Todd – and in re: All Is Lost’s ending – if I recall, you actually don’t see their hands touch in the final moment. Am I remembering it right? A hand reaches out to him, and then blackness?

      I did feel that it was open to interpretation – although in the moment, my sense was that help had indeed come. But since you don’t actually see the rescue – just the hands reaching out – but never touching (like God and Adam in the Sistine Chapel) – it could go either way.

      And holy shit, Open Water. That movie freaked me OUT. I thought about it last night at the screening of Unbroken I went to!

      I had read LZ’s book – and of all the things that happened to Louie Zamperini, the one thing that struck me the most was that he punched a shark in the nose. He had the balls to see a shark coming at him, and to punch it. In the face. After 30 days in a life raft. Mind blowing.

      But yeah. Open Water. That final moment. Shivers.

  20. Todd Restler says:

    I just watched the end again, and you actually do see Redford’s hand grasp another hand (actually it’s one of those wrist-on-wrist grabs) and then as he starts to get pulled out of the water the screen goes orangey-white.

    It’s clearly not meant to say for sure what happens. Maybe they didn’t want to crush the audience too much by having him die. Conversely, if they made the rescue more obviously real, like with news footage of Redford reuniting with his family or something, it would have sucked a lot of that “this is happening to me” feeling out of the movie, and make it about that specific guy instead of “everyman”.

    I get it all, this stuff is not easy, I think they made a great movie, I’m just having a hard time deciding how I feel about the end.

    Unlike Open Water, where I know exactly how I felt. Holy Shit indeed. That movie was crazy. I really felt for some reason they were going to make it. I was NOT prepared for that. And the fact that they were really not polished actors made the whole thing seem very very real. I guess I need to accept that All is Lost was not trying to be Open Water or say the same things.

    Dark Passage sounds like something I need to see just on the novelty alone. Funny having Bogart, my thinking is you could save money by NOT hiring stars for POV roles!

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