The Survivor (1981 film)

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The Survivor
Survivor Film Movie Poster.jpg
Theatrical film poster
Directed by David Hemmings
Produced by Antony I. Ginnane
Screenplay by David Ambrose
Based on Novel by
James Herbert
Starring Robert Powell
Jenny Agutter
Joseph Cotten
Music by Brian May
Cinematography John Seale
Edited by Tony Paterson
Distributed by Greater Union Organization Umbrella Entertainment (AUS)
Warner Bros. Pictures (US/International)
Release date
  • 9 July 1981 (1981-07-09) (Australia)
Running time
100 minutes
Country Australia
Language English
Budget A$1,200,000[1]
Box office US$700,000 (international) (est.)[1]

The Survivor is a 1981 Australian horror thriller film directed by David Hemmings and starring Robert Powell and Jenny Agutter, based on a novel of the same name by James Herbert. It saw the final film appearance of actor Joseph Cotten.


A pilot survives the crash of his airplane, unhurt despite all of its 300 passengers dying in the accident. With no memories of the accident, he starts to suffer strange supernatural visions, guiding him to suspect that something happened in the crash and that the accident maybe wasn't an accident.



$350,000 of the budget was invested by the South Australian Film Corporation, with a similar amount coming from English investors. The rest came from Greater Union, a TV sale and private investment.[1]

Prior to filming David Hemmings and Antony I Ginnane discussed whether to make the film gory or more cerebral in the vein of The Innocents (1961). They chose the latter, a decision Ginnane later said was a mistake.[1]

Ginnane asked Brian Trenchard-Smith to cut a ten-minute trailer to promote the film to potential buyers before it had been finished. This meant he had to shoot some shots of Jenny Agutter. He later cut the trailer for the actual film when it was released.[2]


James Herbert, who wrote the novel upon which the film was based, described the film as "terrible ... absolute rubbish."[3]


Award Category Subject Result
AACTA Awards
(1981 AFI Awards)
Best Actress Jenny Agutter Nominated
Best Cinematography John Seale Nominated
Best Sound Peter Fenton Nominated
Tim Lloyd Nominated
Best Production Design Bernard Hides Nominated
Sitges Film Festival Medalla Sitges for Best Screenplay David Ambrose Won
Prize of the International Critics' Jury David Hemmings Won

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p299-300
  2. ^ Brian Trenchard Smith on The Survivor at Trailers From Hell
  3. ^ "James Herbert Interview (Others)". David J. Howe. 

External links[edit]