ⓘ Cast Away


ⓘ Cast Away

Cast Away is a 2000 American survival drama film directed and co-produced by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, and Nick Searcy. The film depicts a FedEx employee stranded on an uninhabited island after his plane crashes in the South Pacific and his desperate attempts to survive on the island using remnants of his planes cargo.

The film was released on December 22, 2000. It grossed $429 million worldwide, with Hanks being nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the 73rd Academy Awards.


1. Plot

In 1995, Chuck Noland Tom Hanks is a time-obsessed systems analyst, who travels worldwide resolving productivity problems at FedEx depots. He is in a long-term relationship with Kelly Frears Helen Hunt, with whom he lives in Memphis, Tennessee. Although the couple wants to get married, Chucks busy schedule interferes with their relationship.

A Christmas with relatives is interrupted by Chuck being summoned to resolve a problem in Malaysia. Flying through a violent storm, his airplane crashes into the Pacific Ocean. Chuck is able to escape the sinking plane and is saved by an inflatable life-raft, but in the process loses the rafts emergency locator transmitter. He clings to the life-raft, loses consciousness, and floats all night before being washed up on an island.

After he awakens, he explores the island and soon discovers that it is uninhabited. Several FedEx packages from the crashed plane wash up on the shore, as well as the corpse of one of the pilots, whom he buries. He initially tries to signal for rescue and makes an escape attempt with the remnants of his life-raft, but he cannot pass the powerful surf. He searches for food, water, shelter, and opens the packages, finding a number of potentially useful items. He leaves one package, with a pair of wings painted on it, unopened.

During a first attempt to make fire, Chuck receives a deep wound to his hand. In anger he throws several objects, including a Wilson Sporting Goods volleyball from one of the packages. A short time later he draws a face in the bloody hand print on the ball, names it Wilson and begins talking to it.

In the course of the next four years, Chuck manages to eke out a meager existence on the island, and also has regular conversations and arguments with Wilson. After a large section from a portable toilet washes up on the island, Chuck uses it as a sail in the construction of a raft. After spending some time building and stocking the raft and deciding when the weather conditions will be optimal using an analemma he has created in his cave to monitor the time of year, he launches, using the sail to overcome the powerful surf. After some time on the ocean, a storm nearly tears his raft apart. The following day, Wilson falls from the raft and is lost, leaving Chuck overwhelmed by loneliness. Later, he is found drifting by a passing cargo ship.

Upon returning to civilization, Chuck learns that he has long been given up for dead; his family and friends held a funeral, and Kelly has since married Chucks dentist and has a daughter. After reuniting with Kelly, the pair profess their love for each other but, realizing a future together would be impossible due to her commitment to her family, they part. Kelly gives Chuck the keys to the car they once shared.

Chuck then travels out into the country to return the unopened FedEx package to its sender. The house at the address is empty, so he leaves the package at the door with a note saying that the package saved his life. He then departs and stops at a remote crossroads. A woman passing by in a pickup truck stops to explain where each road leads. As she drives away, Chuck notices the illustration on her truck is similar to the one on the parcel. He looks down each road, then back to the road the woman took, and smiles.


2. Cast

  • Helen Hunt as Kelly Frears
  • Jay Acovone as Pilot Peter
  • Jenifer Lewis as Becca Twig
  • Geoffrey Blake as Maynard Graham
  • Nick Searcy as Stan
  • Chris Noth as Jerry Lovett
  • Vince Martin as Albert Miller
  • Lari White as Bettina Peterson
  • Michael Forest as Jack
  • Tom Hanks as Chuck Noland

3.1. Production Development

In a 2017 Actor Roundtable with The Hollywood Reporter, Tom Hanks stated

I made Cast Away because I wanted to examine the concept of four years of hopelessness, in which you have none of the requirements for living - food, water, shelter, fire and company. But it took us six years to put together the alliance that would actually examine that. I only had a third of it, and Bill Broyles only had a third of it, until Bob Zemeckis comes along and provided that other third. I had that original idea. I was reading an article about FedEx, and I realized that 747s filled with packages fly across the Pacific three times a day. And I just thought, "What happens if that goes down?"


3.2. Production Filming

The films shooting occurred between 1998 and 2000, but was not shot consecutively. Hanks gained 50 pounds 23 kg during pre-production, for the purpose of making his transformation more dramatic. After a majority of the film was shot, production was halted for a year so that he could lose the weight and grow his hair and beard to look like he had been living on the island for years. Another four-month production halt preceded the filming of the final return scenes. During the year-long hiatus, Zemeckis used the same film crew to make another film, What Lies Beneath.

Cast Away was filmed on Monuriki, one of the Mamanuca Islands in Fiji. It is in a subgroup of the Mamanuca archipelago, which is sited off the coast of Viti Levu, Fijis largest island. The island became a tourist attraction following the films release. After Chucks return, it is identified by Kelly as being "about 600 miles south of the Cook Islands," but there is actually no land between the southernmost Cook Islands of Mangaia and Antarctica.

The film essentially begins and ends in the same location, on the Arrington Ranch in the Texas Panhandle south of the city of Canadian, Texas.


3.3. Production Music

The films minimal score was composed and conducted by Alan Silvestri for which he won a Grammy Award in 2002. The films soundtrack is most notable for its lack of score and creature sound effects such as bird song or insect sounds while Chuck is on the island, which is intended to reinforce the feeling of isolation. Cast Away contains no original musical score until Chuck escapes the island. However, there is a Russian choral piece heard near the start of the film that was not composed or even recorded by Silvestri, so it does not appear on the films soundtrack list. It is a traditional Russian song written by Lev Knipper called "Oh, My Field" "Polyushko, Polye" and it is available on various collections of Red Army hymns.

The official soundtrack CD is an anthology of musical pieces from all films up to that point directed by Zemeckis and scored by Silvestri. The only track from Cast Away itself is the theme from the end credits.


3.4. Production FedEx

FedEx provided access to their facilities as well as airplanes, trucks, uniforms, and logistical support. A team of FedEx marketers oversaw production through more than two years of filming. FedEx CEO Fred Smith made an appearance as himself for the scene where Chuck is welcomed back, which was filmed on location at FedExs home facilities in Memphis, Tennessee. The idea of a story based on a FedEx plane crashing gave the company "a heart attack at first," but the overall story was seen as positive. FedEx, which paid no money for product placement in the film, saw an increase in brand awareness in Asia and Europe following the films release.


3.5. Production Wilson the volleyball

In the film, Wilson the volleyball serves as Chuck Nolands personified friend and only companion during the four years that Noland spends alone on a deserted island. Named after the volleyballs manufacturer, Wilson Sporting Goods, the character was created by screenwriter William Broyles, Jr. While researching for the film, he consulted with professional survival experts, and then chose to deliberately strand himself for one week on an isolated beach in the Gulf of California, to force himself to search for water and food, and obtain his own shelter. During this time, a volleyball washed up on shore. This was the inspiration for the films inanimate companion. From a screenwriting point of view, Wilson also serves to realistically allow dialogue in a one-person-only situation.

One of the original volleyball props was sold at auction for $18.500 to the ex-CEO of FedEx Office, Ken May. At the time of the films release, Wilson launched its own joint promotion centered on the fact that one of its products was "co-starring" with Tom Hanks. Wilson manufactured a volleyball with a reproduction of the bloodied handprint face on one side. It was sold for a limited time during the films initial release and continues to be offered on the companys website.

A comic reference to Wilsons name being derived from the volleyball manufacturers is made in the movie, when Chuck tells Wilson "A funny thing" - his dentists name happens to be Spalding referring to sporting goods manufacturer Spalding, a competitor of Wilsons.


4. Reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, Cast Away has an approval rating of 88% based on 155 reviews, with an average rating of 7.36/10. The sites critical consensus reads, "Flawed but fascinating, Cast Away offers an intelligent script, some of Robert Zemeckis most mature directing, and a showcase performance from Tom Hanks." On Metacritic the film has a score of 73 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".

Cast Away opened in 2.774 theaters in North America and grossed $28.883.406 with an average of $10.412 per theater on its opening weekend. For the four-day Christmas long holiday weekend, it took in a total of $39.852.075. The film kept performing well and ended up earning $233.632.142 domestically and $196.000.000 internationally for a total of $429.632.142, well above its production budget of $90 million.


5. In popular culture

A FedEx commercial during the 2003 Super Bowl parodied the final scene of the film, in which Chuck returns a package to its sender. In this version, the woman answers the door, and when Chuck asks what was in the box, the woman replies: "Just a satellite phone, GPS locator, fishing rod, water purifier, and some seeds. Just silly stuff."

Media executive Lloyd Braun of ABC Studios first suggested the idea of a Cast Away –type television series at a dinner party in 2003. Thom Sherman later pitched the idea for Cast Away – The Series, but never developed the idea. The concept was later developed and pitched with the title Nowhere, which later turned into the ABC show Lost.