All Is Lost
|All Is Lost|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||J. C. Chandor|
|Written by||J. C. Chandor|
|Music by||Alex Ebert|
|Cinematography||Frank G. DeMarco|
|Edited by||Pete Beaudreau|
|Running time||105 minutes|
All Is Lost is a 2013 survival film written and directed by J. C. Chandor. The film stars Robert Redford as a man lost at sea.[A] Redford is the only cast member, and the film has almost no dialogue. All Is Lost is Chandor's second feature film, following his 2011 debut Margin Call. It screened out of competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
Somewhere in the Indian Ocean ("1700 nautical miles from the Sumatra Straits"), the main character (Robert Redford) narrates, "I'm sorry. I know that means little at this point, but I am. I tried. I think you would all agree that I tried. To be true, to be strong, to be kind, to love, to be right, but I wasn't." He declares, "All is lost."
The film cuts to eight days earlier, as he wakes up and sees that water has started to flood his boat, the Virginia Jean, a Cal 39.[B] He goes out onto the deck and sees that his boat has collided with a wayward shipping container which has ripped a hole in the hull. He goes below to get a sea anchor and ties it to the container.[C] He then steers the boat away from the container and eventually gets it to dislodge. He goes to work patching up the hole in his boat and then uses a knife to carve a piece of wood until it can fit in the manual- or hand-bilge pump hole, as he has lost the lever for it. After the cleanup, he finds that the boat’s navigational and communications systems have been damaged from the collision. He pulls out the radio equipment and pours fresh water on the interior of the devices to remove conductive sea salt from them. Then, using one of the yacht's service batteries, he connects power to the radio and attempts to get it working. This fails at first but when he returns to the cabin and begins to read a book on celestial navigation, the radio suddenly starts to work. He hurries to it and tries to transmit a distress call, but eventually the radio's battery power fails and the radio becomes useless once more. Despite this difficulty, the seafarer later climbs the mast and discovers a disconnected antenna lead. He reattaches the lead but, while at the top of the mast, sees an oncoming tropical storm. He immediately descends to make preparations for it.
The storm quickly reaches his position, and he runs before the wind under bare poles for a while, until he feels this storm tactic becomes too tiresome and dangerous. He intends to bring the boat into a hove-to position, but when crawling to the bow to hoist the storm jib, he is thrown overboard and only just regains the deck after a long struggle. The boat capsizes and turtles, and after a further 180-degree roll, is dismasted, and most of the equipment on board destroyed. With the boat badly holed and sinking, he decides to abandon ship in an inflatable life raft, salvaging whatever he can to survive.
As he learns how to operate a sextant he recovered from the boat, he discovers he is near one of the major shipping lanes and, a day or two later, finds that he is being pulled towards it by ocean currents. During the journey, his supplies dwindle, and he learns too late that his drinking water has been contaminated with sea water. He improvises, using condensation from plastic bags to get fresh water.
He reaches the shipping lanes and is passed by two container ships. They do not notice him and continue on, despite his use of signaling flares. He eventually drifts out of the shipping lanes and back to open ocean. However, he is out of food and water and cannot hope to survive much longer. On the eighth day, he writes a letter, puts it in a jar, and throws it in the water as a message in a bottle for anyone to find.
Later that night, he sees a light in the distance, possibly another ship. He is out of signaling devices, but tears pages from his journal along with charts to create a signal fire. After he loses control of the fire and the fire consumes his raft, he falls into the water, struggling to swim. He stops swimming and lets himself sink. As he sinks, he sees the hull of a boat with a search light approaching his burning raft.
He swims up towards the light and the surface to grasp an outstretched hand, and the final shot dissolves to white.
All Is Lost is written and directed by J. C. Chandor, following his 2011 feature film debut Margin Call. During his time commuting from Providence, Rhode Island to New York, Chandor developed the idea for All Is Lost. After meeting Robert Redford at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival where Margin Call premiered, Chandor asked the veteran actor to be in the film. On February 9, 2012, Redford's casting was confirmed for All Is Lost as its only cast member. In addition to there being only one actor in the film, Redford also stated that the film has no dialogue, however there are a few spoken lines. Because of these aspects, the shooting script was only 31 pages long.
Principal photography began in mid-2012 at Baja Studios in Rosarito Beach in Mexico. Baja Studios was originally built for the 1997 film Titanic. Filming took place for two months in the location's water tank. At a press conference after the film's screening at Cannes 2013, Redford revealed that his ear was damaged during the production.
Being filmed on the water and largely within the confines of a sailboat and liferaft, the film was technically difficult. It joined ranks with other water-plagued films: Alfred Hitchcock's Lifeboat; Roman Polanski's Knife in the Water; Kevin Costner's Waterworld; James Cameron's Titanic; Robert Zemeckis's Cast Away and Steven Spielberg's Jaws.
The film score to All Is Lost is composed by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ frontman Alex Ebert, who signed on to the film in November 2012. Speaking of the experience of working on the film, Ebert said, "This project was a dream—an open space to play in but also space to listen to the elements—wind, water, rain, sun, are the story's other characters to me. I knew I had quite a task ahead of me: to at once allow the elements to sing and to give Redford a voice with which to, once in a while, respond." The "extra features" of the Blu-ray Disc explicate on the unique development of the sound track, music, script and other production considerations.
A soundtrack album featuring ten original compositions and one new song all written, composed, and produced by Ebert was released on October 1, 2013 by Community Music. On September 12, 2013, the song "Amen" from the soundtrack was made available for streaming.
All Is Lost screened out of competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival on May 22. The film was distributed theatrically by Lionsgate and by Roadside Attractions in the United States. FilmNation Entertainment handled foreign sales for the film. In February 2012, Universal Pictures purchased distribution of the film in 19 international territories (U.K., France, Italy, Spain, Hong Kong, South Korea, Russia, Portugal and Australia). Other deals were made with HGC in China, Square One in Germany, Sun Distribution in Latin America and Pony Canyon in Japan. It began a limited release in the United States on October 18, 2013.
All Is Lost has received critical acclaim. Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 93% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 194 reviews, with an average score of 7.9/10. The site's consensus states: "Anchored by another tremendous performance in a career full of them, All Is Lost offers a moving, eminently worthwhile testament to Robert Redford's ability to hold the screen." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 based on reviews from critics, the film has a score of 87 based on 45 reviews, considered to be "universal acclaim".
After the screening of the film at the Cannes Film Festival, Redford received a standing ovation. Writing for The Independent, Geoffrey Macnab said the film was "utterly compelling viewing". Andrew Pulver, writing for The Guardian, said that "Redford delivers a tour de force performance: holding the screen effortlessly with no acting support whatsoever." Justin Chang of Variety said of Redford's performance that he "holds the viewer’s attention merely by wincing, scowling, troubleshooting and yelling the occasional expletive". Robbie Collin of The Telegraph said, "The film's scope is limited, but as far as it goes, All Is Lost is very good indeed: a neat idea, very nimbly executed."
Peter Bradshaw writing also for The Guardian says the "near-mute performance as a mysterious old man of the sea" to be "a bold, gripping thriller." Being an ambiguous and challenging metaphor, he concludes: “What a strikingly bold and thoughtful film.”
Alan Scherstuhl of The Village Voice writes that the film is "a genuine nail-biter, scrupulously made and fully involving, elemental in its simplicity." David Morgan of CBS News gave the film a positive review, stating, "Four decades ago Redford demonstrated a similar capacity for survival skills as the mountain man Jeremiah Johnson. Today, at age 77, without a supporting cast and performing virtually all of his water stunts himself, Redford proves he is still up to the task, shining in what is an extremely physical but also an intellectually demanding role."
Steve Pulaski of Influx Magazine gave the film an A-, commenting, "All is Lost is a strong film in terms of mood and score. I have no idea what audiences will think of it. Some will hail it[...]and others will loathe it for not getting more to the bottom of things and leaving each scene with some element of ambiguity."
- Survival film, about the film genre, with a list of related films
- Redford is credited as "Our Man", but the character is not named in the film.
- Three boats of this type were used during production.
- The emblazoned container—painted "好運" in Chinese and "Ho Wan" in English—meant "Good Luck."
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- All Is Lost at the Internet Movie Database
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- All Is Lost at Rotten Tomatoes
- All Is Lost at Metacritic