Cast Away

7 out of 10


The longest commercial in history

A unique film where the top supporting actor is a volleyball called "Wilson," Cast Away is the story of a workaholic executive who is stranded on an otherwise deserted island in what has been described as the longest Fed Ex commercial in history.

With an opening shot from the perspective of a Muscovite boy's bicycle, a true treat of excellent cinematography that will include a realistic plane crash will back a fascinating story. Conceived to be a clockwatching Fed Ex executive by both Hanks and screenwriter William Broyles Jr., Chuck Noland is permanently lecturing his tardy Russian employees as he looks forward to Christmas with his girlfriend in Memphis, Texas, in a scene shot at Fed Ex's Moscow facility. Following his proposal to long time girlfriend Kelly (p[ayed by Helen Hunt) Noland decides they should marry following his business trip to Asia, but with a cruel twist of fate doesn't make it or return to the US, caught in airplane crash off course in the South Pacific ocean.

Giving a powerful performance as a character whose name was cheekily designed to sound as "see no land," often with expressions that speak a thousand words, Hanks is forced to adapt to life stranded on a deserted island with little more than a pile of Fed Ex packages containing a volleyball, a dress and a pair of ice skates. Perfectly capturing the psychological and spiritual anguish of being stranded without the hope of rescue and eerily resembling a glimpse of life of prehistoric man, he learns how to find water, to fish and to build a boat in a setting as beautiful as a National Geographic documentary. Heart wrenching and at the same time gripping, his adjustment away from his fast-paced but civilized world is impressive and treated realistically.

Despite the company initially "having a heart attack", Peter over the plane crash scene, Fed Ex gave its full support. Although they did not pay for what has to be one of the greatest product placements in the history of cinema, they were happy to supply international and North American locations, extras (including FedEx CEO Fred Smith in a cameo role), goods, packing materials and uniforms, giving it an extra air of authenticity.

With a screenplay by William Broyles Jr. ("Apollo 13") and direction by filmmaker Robert Zemeckis, known for his popular but sometimes failed efforts such as "Forrest Gump" and "Ghost Ship," they are rejoined in Cast Away by Hanks who has worked closely with both on previous films. Largely failing at the box office, possibly due to a trailer which revealed too much of the plot too early, the picture still has both a solid script and story which made it worthy of the Oscar nominations it received in 2001. Although containing a somewhat comedic beginning and moving ending, it's true strength lies in Hank's experience on the island, which transcend and overshadow many of the supporting performances and scenes, even surprisingly that of Helen Hunt.

Similar to "Lord of the Flies," but more closely examining man'sconnection to nature, Cast Away is a mesmerizing story of the will to survive, although a largely underrated film.

One to discover

Film Critic: Jennifer M Lillies