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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Cast Away (2000)

#2 - 2000 Box Office: Gross $233,632,142

At the edge of the world, his journey begins
Robert Zemeckis brings us the tale of Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks), a FedEx Systems Analyst who will absolutely, positively do anything to get your package there overnight.  In fact, he often flies around the world to assist other FedEx hubs, leaving his girlfriend (Helen Hunt) at home to deal with dinner parties and holidays on her own.  One Christmas, he's called off to Malaysia but leaves a ring box with Kelly, promising he'll be back to officially present it to her on New Year's Eve.  Unfortunately, his plane approaches a violent storm, tries to fly around it, but crashes hundreds of miles off course.  Chuck is the only one to survive and floats to an uninhabited island where several packages have washed up on shore.  He opens most of the packages, finding some make-shift tools and a volleyball who becomes his only companion—Wilson—but leaves one, with a pair of wings stamped on it, unopened.  After a few failed attempts to signal other planes or ships, he makes fire, sets up a camp and tries to build a raft to escape.  But the tides prove too strong, so he settles into life as a castaway.  Four years pass—he becomes an excellent spear fisherman and has frequent conversations with Wilson.  But when something washes up on shore that might help him get past the tides, will Chuck leave his island home to deliver the one last package?  Will Kelly still be waiting with the unopened engagement ring? Will Chuck remember how to hold conversations with people who talk back?

Trivia (mostly courtesy of the IMDb)
  • To make himself look like an average, out-of-shape, middle-aged man, Tom Hanks didn't exercise and allowed himself to grow pudgy for the first half of shooting. Production was then halted for a year so he could lose fifty pounds and grow out his hair for his time spent on the deserted island. During this hiatus, Robert Zemeckis used the same crew to film What Lies Beneath 
  • The license plate on Chuck's car reads: KAZ 2AY (which sounds similar to Cast Away)
  • Virtually all sound, including dialog, in the scenes on the island (about an hour and a half of screen time) had to be replaced in post-production. The nearby surf made it impossible to get usable sound while filming
  • Actual lines of dialogue were written for Wilson the Volleyball, to help Hanks have a more natural interaction with the inanimate object
  • Robert Zemeckis was asked at a USC Q&A session what was in the unopened packaged. He jokingly replied, that it contained a waterproof, solar-powered, satellite phone
  • Fred Smith, founder and owner of FedEx, makes a cameo appearance in the film
  • Chuck draws several pictures, including a few of his girlfriend Kelly (Helen Hunt) on the wall of a cave. In the movie As Good as It Gets, Simon Bishop tells Carol Connelly (also played by Hunt) "You're the reason cavemen chiseled on walls"
  • To see the island that Cast Away was filmed on, put -17.609277,177.0397 into Google Maps. The beach that Tom Hanks writes HELP on and sees from the peak is the eastern most part of Monuriki, Fiji
You wouldn't have a match by any chance would you?
Had no idea Helen Hunt was in this film as well... Interesting pairing along with Twister.  I knew the basic set-up of this film—FedEx worker stranded on an island—but had no idea there was so much story before and after the island.  It makes sense though; watching Chuck survive alone for two hours would be pretty boring probably.  I really enjoyed the final act of this film after Chuck gets home.  I don't want to spoil the film more than I already have, but Hanks' one scene (a 3-minute long take monologue in front of a fireplace) is an amazing bit of acting, as is his solo stuff on island.  Hunt does well too as the ever-suffering girlfriend, but it's Hanks who owns this film.  Besides his Da Vinci Code films, I wondered where this Hanks had disappeared to.  Then a friend pointed me toward the trailer for Larry Crowne.  I thought Charlie Wilson's War was pretty decent at the time but have since forgotten a lot of it.  Let's hope this new collaboration between Hanks and Julia Roberts will succeed!

Ponch's Rating:

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