Thoughts on Cast Away

I was about to go berserk on twitter about how I was overwhelmed by the movie Cast Away when I realized 140 characters per tweet cannot hold back these million thoughts outflowing. Thus, I came here and poured them out as fast as my fingers could type.

From yesterday my obsession with Marvel’s heroes came back. I re-watched the Avengers’ series and determined to re-watch the Matrix trilogy although it does not have anything to do with Marvel (it is categorized in the heroic genre, by me). Suddenly, I scanned through this fact tweet about how the screen writer for the movie Cast Away did desolate himself on to a lonely island to find inspiration. Duong gave me a push later, recommending it on twitter (which she rarely, or more precisely never, did).

The movie was very long, to be honest. I normally do not watch movies that span more than 90 minutes. However, Cast Away kept my eyes glued to the screen its whole time. Even after finishing it, I rewinded several impressive scenes to re-taste its wonderful seconds. I could easily recall how the golden dusk cast it marvelous light over Chuck’s silhouette when he spent the last of his first day on the island. I could still feel the tremble as if I was on the same life-boat with Chuck trying to row against the massive waves cascading down. The deep dark night on the sea surface dimly moonlit struck me with both fear and anxiety, culminating with a whale moaning. It seemed like I was in the movie, not just watching it.

Beside its gorgeous cinematography, Tom Hanks’ acting was beyond my limited vocabulary to describe. It was diverse as he subtly transformed from a jovial exuberant guy to one who succumbed to the vanity of his stranded life, to a self-sufficient survivor, and then turned into this composed heartbroken struggling to fit in. Tom acted persuasive and sophisticated. I could read his melancholic eyes and shared the character’s pain at the same time as I dived in the sea of Chuck’s vigorous will to live. Apparently, such a character would finally find the way home; I knew it from the beginning – or sensed it because it was fiction and fiction is obliged to possibilities (quoted). Nevertheless, after sharing his hurtful cry over Wilson’s drift-away, I got super contented watching Chuck raising his hand to the ship for rescue.

I bet most people would compare Cast Away with Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. I did, too. An accident happened, isolating the only survivor on an island in the middle of nowhere; the survivor, as the word suggests, survived by gradually managed to gather foods, to make clothes, to create fire, and finally set sail on a hand-made raft. Both Robinson and Chuck found their friends, Friday – a man with a non-human name and Wilson – a human-named volleyball. The two works, however, led different approaches to the same storyline. To me, Robinson stood out as a heroic fighter who overcame all natural hardships, while Chuck appeared as a realistic emotional modern person. Defoe focused more on how his character survived with his smartness, while Cast Away portrayed its Chuck in his most realistic form: determined at one point, fragile at another. Perhaps, it has been so long since I last read Robinson Crusoe that my impression does not reflect the novel’s true value. Yet, I felt, the novel told the plot while the movie triggered emotional thoughts.

I lost a friend of mine recently, abrupt as Chuck’s flight accident, hopeless as his first days on the island, and lost as his days back home. The movie told a totally different story, but I felt connected. After a horrible event, everyone has to suffer. Regardless, we still have to live on, as Chuck said “tomorrow the sun will rise; no one knows what the tide would bring”. Hopefully, a sail.


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