Hanks' sojourn on the island is the centrepiece, but this is no tropical island idyll: following a terrifying plane crash (the one sequence in the film where Zemeckis shows off his uncanny ability to choreograph action), life on the island is seen to be a depressing and bitter experience filled with disappointment, danger and suicidal despair. Having lost all hope of rescue, ultimately Noland's greatest test is not to survive, but to find a reason to survive. He has no Man Friday for company, just a volleyball named "Wilson" that is both a narrative device allowing Hanks to deliver dialogue and an intriguingly pagan personification of the island's spirit under whose protection Noland is finally able to summon fire (significantly, and heartbreakingly, Wilson leaves him as he regains contact with the world). In an era of MTV-style film editing, Zemeckis and Hanks fearlessly take their time establishing with total conviction the grim realities of Noland's situation, his devastating loss of hope and the means by which he achieves his escape. Like Contact before it, Cast Away is a refreshingly thoughtful piece of mainstream cinema that explores weighty existential issues but retains a warm human intimacy.
On the DVD: The luminous anamorphic print with vivid Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is accompanied on the first disc by a technical commentary from Zemeckis and key crew personnel. It's plenty insightful for budding filmmakers, although for pure listening pleasure one might have preferred a more relaxed piece with just the director and Tom Hanks. The second disc includes a 30-minute making-of documentary in which the director sums up the moral of the movie--"Surviving is easy but living is difficult". This draws on material from the three other mini-documentaries about survival skills, Wilson the volleyball and the Fijian island location of Monu Riki respectively. There's also a section on the sometimes surprising use of CGI effects and a storyboard-to-film comparison sequence. Tom Hanks chats with American TV host Charlie Rose about this movie and his career in the extensive 50-minute interview. Trailers, artwork and stills round out a valuable two-disc set. --Mark Walker
The whole scene of the plane crashing is terrifyingly real. You'll be holding your breath for a while.... The style used to make the island part of the movie is very effective at making the viewer uncomfortable. No music score whatsoever until very near the end which is very noticeable when it happens, like a breath of fresh air. You can feel though out the film, conscious decisions to not use tools like voice-overs to fill the silence. This I feel, keeps the viewer more at a distance from Chuck's feelings, but ultimately drags the viewer deeper into the miserable situation he is in, making the whole film more interactive in a way. Which is probably why the film has not been to everyone's tastes.
Castaway has left me with a similar feeling as when I saw new version of 'The Thin Red Line' Although almost in opposite ways, its very spiritual, like staring death in the face. Keep breathing, remind yourself who you used to be. Chuck has a picture of his girl. That old light at the end of the cave. And let's not forget Wilson, the best friend guy could have. :-)
The DVD is worth every penny. Quality is what you'd expect. There is also a massive interview with Tom Hanks, which he not only talks about Castaway, but Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and That thing you do. Ever since my all time favourite movie "Joe versus the volcano" Tom has just got a bigger and bigger star, and this film shows us why.
Cast Away is a bold, brave and risky film, yet Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis were nicely rewarded at the box office (if not the Oscars!) in the latter stages of 2000, and the early parts of 2001, and indeed right throughout its cinematic release.
On DVD, the Cast Away package is enhanced by the decent features on the bonus disc: there are lots of documentaries and featurettes, plus an informative audio commentary from Zemeckis and his production team.
The film itself is fantastic. It starts slowly and ends slowly, but I suppose most viewers will be most eager to catch the middle section of the movie, where Chuck (Hanks) and Wilson are stranded on the island - for a full 4 years!
For much of the movie, think 'silence'. It is basically a silent movie for an hour or so, for being stranded on a desert island is obviously a very lonely experience. It will become clear very quickly to Chuck that he has no immediate means of food, water, shelter, nor fire. His hopes of survival are constantly tempered by bouts of depression, exhaustion and a series of physical injuries. He resigns himself to the fact that he will probably die on that island. Very touching.
How on earth Tom Hanks didn't win his 3rd Oscar for that awesome performance I'll never know! It's a performance that will be very difficult to supersede. Hanks even had to repeat his infamous 'Philadelphia' weight-loss to make his food-deprived stay on the island all the more realistic.
In my opinion, this film has wonderful scenery (filmed on a remote island in the Pacific Ocean), very good cinematography, a decent score from Alan Silvestri (although we hear no music for the middle section of the film), but it really is Tom Hanks as Fed-Ex worker, Chuck Nolan, who steals the show with an exceptional demonstration of why he is considered the best actor in the world today.
At the Oscars in 2001, Gladiator swept the board, leaving Cast Away with virtually nothing. Sometimes there is just no justice at awards ceremonies.
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