Cast Away

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Cast Away
Cast away film poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Zemeckis
Written byWilliam Broyles Jr.
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyDon Burgess
Edited byArthur Schmidt
Music byAlan Silvestri
Production
companies
Distributed by
Release date
  • December 22, 2000 (2000-12-22)
Running time
143 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$90 million[1]
Box office$429.6 million[1]

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 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.

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' 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.[2]

Plot[edit]

In 1995, Chuck Noland, a systems analyst executive, travels the world resolving productivity problems at FedEx depots. He lives with his girlfriend, Kelly Frears, in Memphis, Tennessee. During a family Christmas dinner, Chuck is summoned to resolve a work problem in Malaysia. The FedEx cargo plane he is on gets caught in a storm and crashes into the Pacific Ocean. Chuck is the only survivor and escapes with an inflatable life raft. The next day, he washes up on an uninhabited island.

Over the next few days, several FedEx packages wash ashore, as well as the corpse of one of the FedEx pilots, whom Chuck buries. Chuck tries to signal a passing ship and escape in the damaged life raft, but the incoming surf tosses him onto a coral reef, injuring his leg. He is able to find sufficient food, water, and shelter. Chuck opens most of the FedEx packages, finding several useful items, but does not open a package with a pair of golden angel wings painted on it. While attempting to start a fire, Chuck cuts his hand. He furiously throws several objects from the packages, including a Wilson Sporting Goods volleyball, leaving a bloodstained imprint. After calming down, Chuck draws a face into the smeared blood, names the ball Wilson, and begins talking to it. He continues to talk to it regularly during the rest of his time on the island.

Four years later in 1999, a long-haired and a bearded Chuck has moved into a cave. After a large section from a portable toilet enclosure washes up on the island, he builds a raft, using the plastic as a sail. Chuck successfully launches the raft that he has stocked with water and the unopened FedEx package. Chuck and the raft survive a storm, but afterward, Wilson falls off the raft and floats away. Chuck awakens and futilely attempts to rescue Wilson but is left to grieve over his loss. Soon after, he is rescued by a passing container ship.

Upon returning to civilization, Chuck learns that he was declared dead by his family and friends. Later, a spruced-up and a clean-shaven Chuck returned to a hero’s welcome home party at the FedEx Headquarters in Memphis. Kelly has since married and has a daughter. Chuck goes to Kelly's house and reunites with her. They are both still in love with each other, but both know that Kelly cannot abandon her family. On a rainy night, she gives Chuck his old Jeep, and they sadly part ways. Chuck drives to Texas to return the unopened FedEx package to its sender. Finding no one home, he leaves the package at the door with a note saying that the package saved his life. He departs in his truck (where he has bought another Wilson volleyball and put it in the passenger seat) 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 an angel wing painted on the tailgate of her truck, identical to the one on the parcel. He looks down each road, trying to decide which way to go. In the end, Chuck then stares down the road the woman took and smiles.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

In a 2017 Actor Roundtable with The Hollywood Reporter, Tom Hanks stated[3]

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[3]

Filming[edit]

The island of Monuriki

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.[2][4] 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.[5]

Cast Away was filmed on Monuriki, one of the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji.[6] 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 begins and ends in the same location, on the Arrington Ranch in the Texas Panhandle south of the city of Canadian, Texas.[7]

Music[edit]

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.[8] 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.[9]

The Cast Away soundtrack consists of 10 tracks, with performers including Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, and Charles Brown.[10]

FedEx[edit]

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.[11] 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,[12] saw an increase in brand awareness in Asia and Europe following the film's release.[13]

Wilson the volleyball[edit]

Wilson the volleyball

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.[14][15][16] 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 one-person-only situation.[17][18]

It is rumored, but not true,[19] 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.[20]

Release[edit]

Home media[edit]

Cast Away was released on DVD and VHS on June 12, 2001. The DVD version of the film is a THX certified two-disc Special Edition release that features a DTS 5.1 audio track and several bonus features, including galleries, special effects vignettes, audio commentary, trailers, TV spots, behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, featurettes and more.[21] 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.[22] Cast Away would go on to hold this record until 2002 when it was taken by The Fast and the Furious.[23] 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, making it the third-highest home video rentals of any film, behind Meet the Parents and The Sixth Sense.[22]

Reception[edit]

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.[24] For the four-day Christmas long holiday weekend, it took in a total of $39.9 million.[25] The film 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.[1]

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."[26] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 73 out of 100 based on reviews from 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[27] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B" on an A+ to F scale.[28]

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."[29]

Accolades[edit]

Organizations Category Nominee Result
2001 Academy Awards[30] Best Actor Tom Hanks Nominated
Best Sound Randy Thom, Tom Johnson, Dennis S. Sands and William B. Kaplan Nominated
2001 BAFTA Awards[31] Best Film Actor in a Leading Role Tom Hanks Nominated
2001 Critics' Choice Awards[32] Best Inanimate Object Wilson Won
2001 Golden Globe Awards[33] 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[34] 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

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."[35]

Media executive Lloyd Braun of ABC Studios first suggested the idea of a Cast Away–type television series at a dinner party in 2003.[36] Thom Sherman later pitched the idea for Cast Away – The Series, but never developed the idea.[36] The concept was later developed and pitched with the title Nowhere, which later turned into the ABC show Lost.[36]

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' character losing a volleyball he named "Wilson."[37]

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.[38][39]

On April 15, 2022, at Progressive Field, Tom Hanks threw the ceremonial first pitch at the Cleveland Guardians home opener, accompanied by a replica of Wilson from the movie.[40][41]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Cast Away (2000)". Box Office Mojo. January 1, 2001. Archived from the original on September 10, 2019. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  2. ^ a b Kehr, Dave (December 17, 2000). "'Cast Away' Director Defies Categorizing". The New York Times. Archived from the original on June 22, 2018. Retrieved October 18, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Galloway, Stephen (November 30, 2017). "Actor Roundtable: Tom Hanks, James Franco and More on 'Predators Everywhere' and Secrets of 'Legends'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on October 4, 2018. Retrieved December 8, 2017.
  4. ^ "Cast Away". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on September 14, 2021. Retrieved March 26, 2021.
  5. ^ "Tom Hanks said he almost died while making 'Cast Away'".
  6. ^ Miller, Korina; Jones, Robyn; Pinheiro, Leonardo (December 2003). Fiji (paperback) (Sixth ed.). Lonely Planet. p. 54. ISBN 1-74059-134-8.
  7. ^ Carlson, Paul (August 2007). "Cast Away and the Texas Panhandle" (PDF). The Cyclone. Vol. XIV, no. 2. West Texas Historical Association. pp. 1–2. Archived (PDF) from the original on December 19, 2015. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  8. ^ Cast Away DVD director's commentary
  9. ^ "Cast Away: The Films of Robert Zemeckis and the Music of Alan Silvestri". allmusic. Retrieved June 2, 2009.
  10. ^ Cast Away (2000) - IMDb, archived from the original on November 25, 2021, retrieved November 18, 2021
  11. ^ "'Cast Away' Delivers Goods For Fedex". Chicago Tribune. 2001. Archived from the original on February 24, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  12. ^ "Stranded: Behind-the-Scenes of Cast Away, A comprehensive behind-the-scenes look at Cast Away". Stumped Magazine. 2004. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved December 27, 2009.
  13. ^ "A look at some of the biggest hits in film and TV product placement". The Hollywood Reporter. April 28, 2005. Archived from the original on September 3, 2006. Retrieved November 25, 2007.
  14. ^ "Cast Away lets Hanks fend for himself". Detroit News. December 22, 2000. Archived from the original on June 8, 2011. Retrieved November 26, 2008.
  15. ^ Nate Smith (January 7, 2001). "Cast Away proves great films still exist". Daily Gazette. Archived from the original on June 8, 2011. Retrieved November 26, 2008.
  16. ^ Vanneman, Alan. "The Volleyball in the Void". Bright Lights Film Journal. Archived from the original on January 18, 2013. Retrieved November 26, 2008.
  17. ^ Hepola, Sarah (December 29, 2000). "Lost at Sea and Back Again". The Austin Chronicle. Archived from the original on May 3, 2012. Retrieved September 28, 2012.
  18. ^ Natale, Richard (December 20, 2000). "Casting About". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on April 18, 2015. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  19. ^ VanHooker, Brian (April 17, 2020). "What Would Have Happened to Wilson After". Archived from the original on May 1, 2021. Retrieved April 29, 2021.
  20. ^ "Wilson Cast Away Volleyball". Wilson Sporting Goods. Archived from the original on April 28, 2014. Retrieved April 27, 2014.
  21. ^ "Cast Away (2000) - DVD Movie Guide".
  22. ^ a b Gray, Brandon (June 24, 2001). "'Cast Away' DVD washes up with record business". The Journal News. p. 55. Archived from the original on August 2, 2022. Retrieved August 2, 2022 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  23. ^ Gray, Brandon (January 18, 2002). "'The Fast and the Furious' accelerates DVD sales". Argus Leader. p. 37. Archived from the original on August 2, 2022. Retrieved August 2, 2022 – via Newspapers.com. open access
  24. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for December 22-24, 2000". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on June 20, 2019. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  25. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for December 22-25, 2000". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  26. ^ "Cast Away (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on December 24, 2020. Retrieved January 8, 2021.
  27. ^ "Cast Away". Metacritic. Archived from the original on December 8, 2020. Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  28. ^ "Find CinemaScore" (Type "Cast Away" in the search box). CinemaScore. Archived from the original on January 2, 2018. Retrieved July 25, 2020.
  29. ^ Cast Away movie review and film summary (Roger Ebert), archived from the original on May 10, 2021, retrieved June 14, 2021
  30. ^ "The 73rd Academy Awards (2001) Nominees and Winners". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Archived from the original on April 14, 2012. Retrieved November 19, 2011.
  31. ^ Wolf, Matt (February 26, 2001). "'Gladiator' Gets 5 British Awards". Topeka Capital-Journal. Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 9, 2017. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  32. ^ "The 6th Critics' Choice Movie Awards Winners and Nominees". Broadcast Film Critics Association. Archived from the original on January 4, 2012.
  33. ^ Breznican, Anthony (January 22, 2001). "A 'Gladiator's' Triumph; 'Famous,' Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts Also Win Golden Globes". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on November 5, 2013. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  34. ^ Schaefer, Stephen (January 31, 2001). "SAG might shake up Oscar field". The Boston Herald. Archived from the original on November 11, 2013. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
  35. ^ "Why no matches in the FedEx box?: FedEx parody commercial makes deliberate decision not to help provide fire to its own castaway". CNN. January 27, 2003. Archived from the original on July 28, 2012. Retrieved March 4, 2012.
  36. ^ a b c "Cast Away". Chicago. August 2007. Archived from the original on October 29, 2012. Retrieved December 27, 2008.
  37. ^ IASIP - Rum Ham - The whole Story, archived from the original on December 11, 2021, retrieved March 22, 2021
  38. ^ "Tom Hanks joins reunited Phish on stage". EW.com. Archived from the original on November 25, 2020. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  39. ^ "How Phish Phooled with a Phake Hanks". people.com. Archived from the original on January 1, 2021. Retrieved September 23, 2021.
  40. ^ "Watch: Tom Hanks throws first pitch at Guardians home opener". Fox 8 Cleveland WJW. April 15, 2022. Retrieved April 16, 2022.
  41. ^ Rice, Nicholas (April 16, 2022). "Tom Hanks Brings Out Cast Away Costar Wilson for First Pitch at Cleveland Guardians Game". people.com. Retrieved April 16, 2022.

External links[edit]