Cast Away is a 2000 American survival drama film directed and produced by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, and Nick Searcy. Hanks plays a FedEx troubleshooter who is stranded on an uninhabited island after his plane crashes in the South Pacific, and the plot focuses on his desperate attempts to survive and return home. Initial filming took place from January to March 1999 before resuming in April 2000 and concluding that May.
|Directed by||Robert Zemeckis|
|Written by||William Broyles Jr.|
|Edited by||Arthur Schmidt|
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Box office||$429.6 million|
Cast Away was released on December 22, 2000, by 20th Century Fox in North America and DreamWorks Pictures in its international markets. It grossed $429 million worldwide, making it the third-highest-grossing film of 2000. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised its screenplay and Hanks's performance, for which he won Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama at the 58th Golden Globe Awards and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the 73rd Academy Awards.
In December 1995, Chuck Noland is a FedEx systems analyst who travels the world resolving productivity problems. He lives with his girlfriend, Kelly Frears in Memphis, Tennessee. During a Christmas dinner, Chuck is summoned to resolve a problem in Malaysia. Before leaving, Kelly gives Chuck her grandfather’s pocket watch with a photo of her in it. Chuck gives her a small box, saying she can wait to open it on New Year's Eve when he returns, implying it is an engagement ring. However, the FedEx cargo plane he is on gets caught in a violent storm, loses control and crashes into the Pacific Ocean. Chuck is the only survivor and escapes on an inflatable life raft, losing the emergency locator transmitter in the process. The next day, he washes up on an uninhabited island.
As FedEx packages begin to wash ashore, he gathers and sorts them but leaves them unopened. The body of one of the pilots, Albert Miller, washes up on the coast; Chuck buries him and writes an epitaph on the rock above the burial site. In the following days, Chuck struggles to locate food and water. After seeing the lights of a passing ship in the distance, Chuck tries to escape in the life raft, but the strong tide tosses him onto a coral reef which pierces and badly cuts Chuck’s leg.
Realizing it is unlikely he will be rescued, Chuck opens most of the packages, finding useful items he uses to improve his living conditions. However, he does not open a package with golden angel wings printed on it. While attempting to start a fire, Chuck cuts his hand and furiously throws several objects including a Wilson volleyball, leaving a bloodstained handprint. After calming down himself, Chuck draws a face into the blood, names the ball "Wilson" and begins talking to it. Chuck realizes that the chances of ever being found are extremely low as the search area is equal to twice the size of Texas. After enduring a constant toothache, Chuck is forced to extract his own tooth using a rock and an ice skate from one of the packages.
Four years later, in 1999, Chuck, now bearded and disheveled, has adapted to life alone on the island. After a section from a portable toilet enclosure washes up on the island, Chuck begins construction on a raft, using the plastic as a sail. While making a rope from tree fibers, aided by the enclosure sail, which he has painted with golden angel wings, Chuck launches a raft stocked with his belongings, as well as the unopened package. Chuck survives a storm, but afterward, Wilson falls off the raft and floats away. Chuck unsuccessfully attempts to rescue Wilson but is left to grieve its loss. Soon after, he is rescued by a passing cargo ship.
Four weeks later, Chuck is cleaned up and returned to the mainland, where he learns he was declared dead by his family and friends. He is given a hero’s welcome home party at the FedEx Headquarters in Memphis, where he learns that Kelly has since married and has a daughter. One night, he visits Kelly, where they bond for the last time; the two share a passionate kiss and confess their love for each other, but Chuck reminds Kelly of her responsibilities for her new family before they part ways.
Chuck drives to Texas to return the angel-winged package to its sender. Finding no one home, he leaves it at the door with a note saying the package saved his life. He departs in his truck and stops at a remote crossroads. A woman in a pickup truck stops and gives information about where each road leads. As she drives away, Chuck notices two angel wings painted on the tailgate of her truck. He looks down each road, trying to decide which way to go. He then stares down the road the woman took and smiles.
- Tom Hanks as Charles "Chuck" Noland, a FedEx systems analyst.
- Helen Hunt as Kelly Frears Lovett, Chuck's girlfriend.
- Nick Searcy as Stan, Chuck's best friend and co-worker
- Chris Noth as Gerald "Jerry" Lovett, later Kelly's husband
- Lari White as Bettina Peterson, the woman who sent the unopened FedEx package
- Vince Martin as Pilot Albert 'Al' Miller, a FedEx pilot who is buried by Chuck on the island
- Michael Forest as Pilot Jack
- Jay Acovone as Pilot Peter
- Garret Davis as Pilot Blaine
- Viveka Davis as Pilot Gwen
- Jenifer Lewis as Becca Twig
- Geoffrey Blake as Maynard Graham
- Nan Martin as Kelly's Mother
- Dennis Letts as Dennis Larson
- Valerie Wildman as Virginia Larson
- Steve Monroe as Steve Larson
- Elden Henson as Elden Madden
- Timothy Stack as Morgan Stockton
- Joe Conley as Joe Wally
- Frederick W. Smith as himself
I made Cast Away because I wanted to examine the concept of four years of hopelessness, in which you have none of the requirements for living—food, water, shelter, fire and company. But it took us six years to put together the alliance that would actually examine that. I only had a third of it, and Bill Broyles only had a third of it, until Bob Zemeckis comes along and provided that other third. I had that original idea. I was reading an article about FedEx, and I realized that 747s filled with packages fly across the Pacific three times a day. And I just thought, "What happens if that goes down?"— Tom Hanks in 2017
The film was not shot chronologically. It began on January 18, 1999 before halting two months later. Filming resumed on April 3, 2000, and finished the following month. Hanks gained 50 pounds (23 kg) during pre-production, for the purpose of making his transformation more dramatic. After most of the film was shot, production was paused so he could lose the weight and grow his hair and beard to look like he had been living on the island for years. Another four-month production halt preceded the filming of the return scenes. During the year-long hiatus, Zemeckis used the same film crew to make another film, What Lies Beneath. While the film was in production, Hanks nearly died when he suffered an infected cut on his leg. He was rushed to a local hospital to undergo surgery and stayed there for three days. Filming of Cast Away was suspended for three weeks to allow Hanks to recover from the injury.
Cast Away was filmed on Monuriki, one of the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji. It is in a subgroup of the Mamanuca archipelago, which is sited off the coast of Viti Levu, Fiji's largest island. The island became a tourist attraction after the film's release. After Chuck's return, it is identified by Kelly as being "about 600 miles [970 km] south of the Cook Islands," but there is no land between the southernmost Cook Islands of Mangaia and Antarctica.
The film's minimal score was composed and conducted by Alan Silvestri for which he won a Grammy Award in 2002. The film's soundtrack is most notable for its lack of score and creature sound effects (such as bird song or insect sounds) while Chuck is on the island, which is intended to reinforce the feeling of isolation. Cast Away contains no original musical score until Chuck escapes the island. However, there is a Russian choral piece heard near the start of the film that was not composed or even recorded by Silvestri, so it does not appear on the film's soundtrack list. It is a traditional Russian song written by Lev Knipper called "Oh, My Field" ("Polyushko, Polye") and it is available on various collections of Red Army hymns.
The official soundtrack CD is an anthology of musical pieces from all the films up to that point that were both directed by Zemeckis and scored by Silvestri. The only track from Cast Away itself is the theme from the end credits.
FedEx provided access to their facilities (Memphis, Los Angeles, and Moscow) as well as airplanes, trucks, uniforms, and logistical support. A team of FedEx marketers oversaw production through more than two years of filming. FedEx CEO Fred Smith made an appearance as himself for the scene where Chuck is welcomed back, which was filmed on location at FedEx's home facilities in Memphis, Tennessee. The idea of a story based on a FedEx plane crashing gave the company "a heart attack at first," but the overall story was seen as positive. FedEx, which paid no money for product placement in the film, saw an increase in brand awareness in Asia and Europe following the film's release.
Wilson the volleyball edit
In the film, Wilson the volleyball serves as Chuck Noland's personified friend and only companion during the four years that Noland spends alone on a deserted island. Named after the volleyball's manufacturer, Wilson Sporting Goods, the character was created by screenwriter William Broyles Jr. While researching for the film, he consulted with professional survival experts, and then chose to deliberately strand himself for one week on an isolated beach in the Gulf of California, to force himself to search for water and food, and obtain his own shelter. During this time, a volleyball washed up on shore, providing the inspiration for the film's inanimate companion. From a screenwriting point of view, Wilson also serves to realistically allow dialogue to take place in a solitary scenario.
It is rumored, but not confirmed, that one of the original volleyball props was sold at auction for $18,500 to the ex-CEO of FedEx Office, Ken May. At the time of the film's release, Wilson launched its own joint promotion centered on its products "co-starring" with Tom Hanks. Wilson manufactured a volleyball with a reproduction of the bloodied handprint face on one side. It was sold for a limited time during the film's initial release and continues to be offered on the company's website.
Box office edit
Cast Away opened in 2,774 theaters in North America and grossed $28.9 million (an average of $10,412 per theater) in its opening weekend. For the four-day Christmas long holiday weekend, it took in a total of $39.9 million. At that point, it had the highest Christmas opening weekend of any film, surpassing Patch Adams. Upon opening, Cast Away reached the number one spot at the box office, beating another Helen Hunt film, What Women Want. It would also compete against How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which was released the previous month. With a total gross of $8.5 million, Cast Away held the record for having the biggest New Year's Eve gross until Meet the Fockers took it in 2004. The film remained at the top of the box office for three weeks until it was overtaken by Save the Last Dance. Cast Away kept performing well and ended up earning $233.6 million domestically and $196 million internationally, for a total of $429.6 million, against its production budget of $90 million. It became the third-highest-grossing film of 2000, behind Mission: Impossible 2 and Gladiator.
Critical response edit
On Rotten Tomatoes, Cast Away holds an approval rating of 89% based on 158 reviews, with an average rating of 7.40/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Flawed but fascinating, Cast Away offers an intelligent script, some of Robert Zemeckis' most mature directing, and a showcase performance from Tom Hanks." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 73 out of 100 based on reviews from 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars out of four. In his review, he praised Hanks for doing "a superb job of carrying Cast Away all by himself for about two-thirds of its running time" by "never straining for effect, always persuasive even in this unlikely situation, winning our sympathy with his eyes and his body language when there's no one else on the screen." However, he also mentioned how he felt that the film is "a strong and simple story surrounded by needless complications, and flawed by a last act that disappoints us and then ends on a note of forced whimsy."
|2001 Academy Awards||Best Actor||Tom Hanks||Nominated|
|Best Sound||Randy Thom, Tom Johnson, Dennis S. Sands and William B. Kaplan||Nominated|
|2001 BAFTA Awards||Best Film Actor in a Leading Role||Tom Hanks||Nominated|
|2001 Critics' Choice Awards||Best Inanimate Object||Wilson||Won|
|2001 Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama||Tom Hanks||Won|
|2001 MTV Movie Awards||Best Action Sequence in a Movie||Plane crash||Nominated|
|Best Kiss in a Movie||Tom Hanks and Helen Hunt||Nominated|
|Best On-Screen Duo or Team in a Movie||Tom Hanks and Wilson||Nominated|
|Best Performance in a Movie||Tom Hanks||Nominated|
|2001 Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role in a Motion Picture||Tom Hanks||Nominated|
|2002 Grammy Awards||Best Instrumental Composition||Alan Silvestri (for "Cast Away End Credits")||Won|
Home media edit
Cast Away was released on VHS and DVD on June 12, 2001. The DVD version of the film is a THX certified two-disc Special Edition release that features a DTS 6.1 ES audio track and several bonus features, including galleries, special effects vignettes, audio commentary, trailers, TV spots, behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, featurettes and more. It became the fastest-selling DVD release in 20th Century Fox history, selling 1.8 million copies and surpassing X-Men. Additionally, the film generated $5.5 million in rentals, which broke Traffic's record for having the highest DVD rentals. Cast Away would go on to hold this record until 2002 when it was taken by The Fast and the Furious. In total, the film made $57 million in home video sales and $20.6 million in home video rentals during its first week of release, with the latter becoming the third-highest home video rentals of any film, behind Meet the Parents and The Sixth Sense.
In popular culture edit
A FedEx commercial during Super Bowl XXXVII parodied the final scene of the film, in which Chuck Noland returns a package to its sender. In this version, the woman answers the door, and when Noland asks what was in the box, the woman replies: "Just a satellite phone, GPS locator, fishing rod, water purifier, and some seeds. Just silly stuff."
Media executive Lloyd Braun of ABC Studios first suggested the idea of a Cast Away–type television series at a dinner party in 2003. Thom Sherman later pitched the idea for Cast Away – The Series, but never developed the idea. The concept was later developed and pitched with the title Nowhere, which later turned into the ABC show Lost.
The second episode of the seventh season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore" refers to a Cast Away scene. When Frank loses his "rum ham" while floating on a raft in the Atlantic Ocean, his anguish resembles that of Tom Hanks's character losing a volleyball he named "Wilson."
On December 31, 2002, at Madison Square Garden, Phish played a clip from the film on the jumbotron to introduce their song "Wilson" during their concert. They later introduced "Tom Hanks" during the song onstage, but it was later revealed to be keyboardist Page McConnell's brother Steve.
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