We all see things differently.
When I watched ALL is Lost
, I saw a story of a man faced with survival conditions and a "man against the sea" type of plot.
In the film ALL IS LOST
, I see a story about an active man who must save himself and survive until the point where he comes in contact with another boat.
I think ALL is LOST is a much better film than several other recent Hollywood "sea story" movies (e.g. "Captain Phillips," "The Perfect Storm") for any sailor to see and a much better story (even if the person watching is not a sailor).
The film's title "All is Lost" is also a key to understanding the point of the film. As I see it, the film's message is that even when all appears lost, one must try to survive and never give up. I think THAT message is much better for people to see, rather than "call the Navy
in to rescue
I also recognize that ALL IS LOST is a daring movie in the sense that it has only ONE character and almost no spoken words (i.e. no dialog) and no narration. That presents a challenge to the viewer. And, the action is slower paced. For these reasons and others, it is a film that is very different from the usual Hollywood action movie. I am surprised it was even made. But I admire the courage of the film maker for making it and can understand why it is admired by many film critics.
Some sailors complain about the perceived mistakes
seen in All is Lost. From my point of view, that is part of the story and part of what makes it more interesting and "real." Real people make mistakes
. Even highly experienced sailors make mistakes. Then some sailors have to deal with the consequences alone. I say "some" as many simply buy their way out of the consequences (e.g. by repairing or replacing broken gear
, or by having insurance
pay for the damages or loss) or they simply ignore the mistakes they make or blame others with "Did you see what that fool did?"
For those that complain about the "seamanship" mistakes made by the character, I think it should be clear that this is not a film about how to sail. It is a story, and one that uses a situation at sea as a context.
I have seen forum comments about All is Lost where sailors complain that they would never do some of the things Redford does in the movie. I find that understandable and also laughable. For we all respond to challenges differently and I know that every sailor makes mistakes, but usually they do not admit them (if they even recognize them). IF there were a camera
following each of us, I have no doubt that almost anything we do in our lives would be subject to harsh criticism if viewed in closeup detail by an audience who can freely criticize it based on their own rules, experience, or habits.
Part of the success of any drama is to get the audience to question what they would do IF they were in the same situation as the characters/actors. Put another way, getting the audience to ask themselves, "What would I do" or to reach some conclusion such as "I would have done it differently" is all part of making a drama and good story telling or film making. So, I think ALL IS LOST is a much better drama.
Redford's character is defined by his actions (and slower pacing is still a form of action and even "inaction" is still a matter of choice of action or not) rather than by dialog with another actor. And there is no other character in the film from which to judge the MAN (Redford's character) and no other characters to help the audience to feel "loss."
Compare that with typical Hollywood films that have a love interest that is used in the movie to tug at our heart strings or have time devoted to sentimentality or love relationships. For example, in Tom Hanks' "Castaway" movie, he longed for his woman (and later his lost Wilson) when he felt he lost her (and she was presented as his love in the early part of the movie). Those plot devices are used to get the audience to like the character. In All is Lost, there is no use of those plot devices to get us to like the Man/Redford. This is another challenge this filmmaker took on and I admire that too.
All is Lost does not use another character to portray "loss" and the Man/Redford is not seemingly distressed, even by his loss of his boat (something that would probably seem to be a great loss to most forum members). His stoic responses are definitely more challenging to the audience, compared to a film character going hysterical or angry. Redford's character is also surviving for reasons other than to get back to his wife or kids
or girlfriend. There is no sentimentality as was shown in the Castaway movie or the Capt Phillips movie or the Perfect Storm movie.
Most importantly, the film's audience is forced to try to understand the MAN and what he is thinking (without any narration) and what he will do to survive. This requires a more active imagination (or more work) on the part of the audience. That is what the filmmaker creates with his scenario. Some will like that, some will not.
I have a question for everyone:
Considering how each man responded to the challenges he faced (one fictional, one based on some documented account), "Which sailor (Redford/Man or Hanks/CaptPhillips) would you rather sail with on a two-handed voyage across a sea?"