As has been the trend the last few years, this movie worked very hard to portray the situation very realistically. They do make allowances for the story, but in general I approve. I find that these realistic movies have a much stronger emotional impact on me than similar older movies do.
A castaway movie usually follows a formula. We see a little of the victim's life. The accident happens and we see how he makes it to the desert island. We see him learning to survive on the island. Then he's rescued and we see him trying to reenter his life. This movie followed that formula.
We see Hanks making mistakes early in his time on the island. But he's an intelligent and resourceful person and he learns quickly. We see him sustain some injuries that in the civilized world would be fairly minor, but in his situation are potentially life-threatening. The circumstances where they happen are very believable. Again, the trend toward realism.
One technique they used in this movie was changing Hanks' weight. Prior to filming he let himself get heavy and a little out of shape. After filming the early portions of the movie they took a few months off so that Hanks could lose a lot of weight. They did a cut with a title stating, "Four years later," and he really did look a lot different.
Also, you could hear the audience respond to the concept of spending four years alone on an island. Obviously, the idea really hit home.
Early in the movie they make a big deal about how Hanks' character, a manager for Federal Express, is so preoccupied with time. At the beginning of the movie he puts up a clock that counts down the seconds until shipping time each day. On the island they show him figuring out how long it'll take him to build his raft, and it'll take weeks. The contrast in the time scales is striking.
Once he's rescued they show him back in the US. There were a few symbolic elements that I missed but which were obvious when my roommate pointed them out. He spends a lot of time being left alone by his friends and colleagues, when in fact he's probably craving any kind of human contact. They give him a huge smorgasbord of seafood, again, probably exactly the wrong choice. And at the very end of the movie they show him at a crossroads in the middle of the plains, with nothing in every direction, and him having to make a choice on where to go.
Overall, I liked this movie. I can only imagine how poorly I'd fare in his situation. On my brother's Total Movie Value Scale, Matinee with Dinner.
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