Cast Away

A movie starring Oscar winning Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland, a Federal Express higher-up whose sole purpose in life is to beat the clock. He is obsessed with time to the point that he once stole a crippled boy's bike in order to make a delivery on time. His love interest, Kelly Frears (played by Helen Hunt, another Oscar winner), is reluctant to marry another man whose life is ruled by his pager.

Both their lives are changed forever when a FedEx plane carrying Noland across the Pacific goes off course and crashes into the sea. Noland washes ashore a tiny, remote island where he spends the next four years, isolated from humanity and civilization save for a few items that link him to the world he once knew: A picture of Kelly, a volleyball named Wilson and a FedEx package with a butterfly painted on it.

Only an actor of Hanks's caliber could pull off this role, that of a man torn by a desire to end his own life in the face of desperate loneliness, and by a strong will to live driven by the hope that he may someday be rescued.

The employment of Wilson is absolutely ingenius. Not only does it provide the writers with a convenient way to enter speech into what would have been a predominantly silent movie, Wilson also offers the viewer a glimpse into Noland's alter-ego, the part of him that needs to continue living. The moving scene in which Noland ultimately loses Wilson marks the point in the movie where the character gives up totally, throwing himself to the mercy of the sea.

The remainder of the film tells the story of the second, more profound loss that Noland experiences. It is only Noland's drive to deliver the butterfly-painted package, now four plus years old, that hints at his possible future life.

This movie is destined to be one of the greats.
A phenomenon I recently noticed while viewing in a Corporate Theater in Phoenix, Arizona:

Hoi polloi of the world think they are smarter than this movie. There I am, sitting in the second row (damn those crowds!) trying as I might to enjoy the movie and forget about the building pain in my neck, and about this time our loveable hero, Chuck Noland arrives on his desert island. Enter the phenomenon.

Fat white people all around me, sitting in their reclined cushioned seats, suddenly become experts on survival. These people have never been out of their car in a national park, but once camped in the city park with their Boy Scout troop when they were 11. Apparently while driving their Cadillac Escalades and eating Easy Cheese, they picked up on how to survive on a desert island. Loudly to everyone around them, stranger or not, these people attempt to show off their wide array of knowledge.

"Ya gotta drill a hole in the coconut!"

”Well yuh better put on shoes before yuh go walkin’ in the water.”

Dont-chya-no yer flashlight is on?”


Now don’t get me wrong, I felt the temptation myself. As a SAS Survival Guide-toting outdoorsman, I know my way ‘round a punji stick or two. I noticed the stuff that our Mr. Noland could have done better, but did I let everyone and their mother around me know about it? Hell no!

So beware this phenomenon and these people when you go out and see the latest Hanks Academy Award machine. And whatever you do, don’t become one of them.

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