Wouldn’t you like to be a castaway?

I watched it again for fun, but it is quite a telling perspective on how we “long for paradise” and wish we could escape stress. This is the subject of my current book writing project.

Re-posted 2000 blog post, see below

Castaway – A film Review

 This is an unexpectedly enjoyable film.

Tom Hanks deserves an Oscar for carrying the script almost single-handedly.   He plays an ambitious Federal Express Agent jetting round the world chivvying the boys at international depots to perform their best.  His drivenness is having disastrous consequences in his personal life, though.  Just before he is marooned on a beautiful paradise island he seems to make a promise that he will return to ‘do right by that girl’!

When we meet him, the biggest disaster he could envisage would be his Palm Pilot crashing!  But, as the title of the movie hints, it’s a lot more than that that comes crashing to the ground.

When the Fed Ex plane goes down in the Pacific Ocean (and quite dramatically portrayed on the big screen) we find Hanks struggling to make his way to a beautiful sun-drenched, palm-lined shore.  Some of his colleagues wash up dead on the beach along with other apparently useless bits of cargo which never make their destination.  Of course all come in handy, even the ice skates!

As I said, Hanks makes the film stay very much alive as we share with him in his fear, isolation, resignation and determination.  The filming is very well done and apparently all the sound was recorded in the studio afterwards.

In case you haven’t seen it I won’t tell you about the eventual escape and what happens on his return!   Well, you knew he was going to escape eventually didn’t you!

However, there are a couple of themes which resonate very well, I think.

First, like most of the audience I’m sure, I sat there thinking: ‘Wow!   I could manage a few months marooned there – no phone, no traffic, no email, no palm pilot’!!  I have recently written elsewhere about the human longing for Paradise.  Ever since we were first kicked out of the Garden (in Genesis 3) human kind has longed for intimate re-engagement with God’s beautiful creation.   But as Hanks soon finds out, life is tough there and far from being an escape, he longs for human company.

Secondly, this film reminded me of how attached we get to the routine and ritual of our western way of life.   When all the things we think we can’t do without are taken away from us, we survive!  Hanks finds himself reflecting on human relationships which have gone wrong.  And, though not really portrayed in the film, surely it is also a time to come face to face with who we really are in the sight of God.  When everything else is stripped away from us what is it like to be spiritually naked before the Almighty?

Well, it is all a bit corny!  But there is some good stuff in this film.  It also reminded me afresh that Paradise will not be found until heaven!  I hope it won’t take a shipwreck before we wake up to that!


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