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Cast Away A Film Critique

Updated on July 14, 2012

Casting Away An Entertainment Critique

By Eric J. Specht

Film production is the mainstream to hands free entertainment that can either correlate with daily norms or disconnect from them entirely by offering a completely different realms to enter. There is a variety of film genres for all types: western, mysteries, horror, comedy, fantasy, musical, and more that lure its viewers, but how do these illusions gain and sustain the audience’s attention? In order to produce a film there must be a story, a visual interpreter, actors, and various designers that must collaborate to place all the essential elements that go in making a movie fit well together. In general, people often sift through movies like those that pan for gold by merely observing the most pronounce elements such as genre, actors, and picture quality, but overlook the small bits that contribute to the whole value. In order to conclude upon an analysis about a film production it may be ideal to analyze its content, its technique, its form, or all three.

Cast Away

To be a better film critique, I will provide an example analysis of the movie Cast Away written by Williams Broyles Jr. and directed by Robert Zemeckis. The story is about Chuck, a devoted businessperson and dedicated spouse who depicts how a survivor attempts to endure isolation after his plane crashed on an uninhabited island, played by actor/producer Tom Hanks ("Full Cast and Crew," 2000). My evaluation of this film production will cover the genre of Cast Away , its storytelling, acting, cinematography,sound, directing and style, and editing. Following the contents that make a film production, I will discuss the societal impact the film has contributed to society and then discuss film criticism and analysis.

Genre

A film’s genre is a type of movie categorized by characteristics shared by other film types: fantasy film, horror film, musicals, and more, which may lead to expectations of what a film story is about and what plots may occur before watching the motion picture (Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P, 2011, chapter 8). Cast Away is a drama film based on a potentially real life event that involves strong emotions, tension, excitement, sorrow, with a bit of comedy. The movie is also a genre film, meaning that the film may trigger a personal reflection to reevaluate life ("Full Cast and Crew," 2000). A films genre is important because in general, it may determine the size of the film’s audience. For example, if an individual prefers horror films, he or she is most likely not going to be as interested in the storytelling of Cast Away before Nightmare on Elm Street.

Silent Story

Storytelling is simply a form of communication expressed through dialogue, song, and writing, so the film must start with an author and then the screenwriter(s) put the story in his or her own version into words in the most compelling way (Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P, 2011, chapter 2, pg. 3). William Broyles Jr. is the Cast Away screenwriter who develops a compelling narrative story by creating the storyline, plots, characters, events, settings, and so on. He determines that his character Chuck is a dedicated FedEx employee whose profession was to travel by plane to resolve any productivity problems ("Full Cast and Crew," 2000), thus establishing the crash plot and the beginning of survival story that behold universal truths, human survival. William Broyles Jr. chose an uninhabited island as the setting to accentuate loneliness and the slim probability of rescue. The screenwriter also had the challenge of creating internal and external conflict of events that his character would have to endure and overcome, such as hunger, thirst, shelter, fire, tooth aches, and insanity to maintain a compelling drama, if the writer had not, the story may not have been made into a film production.

The Actor

Perhaps the director Robert Zemeckis feared that the story’s contents were not compelling enough; after all, the film’s base was on one character with the supporting character of the Wilson volleyball. Robert Zemeckis decided to choose Tom Hanks as the lead actor because he is a wild card actor or a versatile actor and publicly viewed as an icon (Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P, 2011, chapter 3, pg. 12). Tom Hanks’ reputation makes him the primary candidate to enhance the compelling events that his character, Chuck endures. Tom Hanks is an actor that brings the character to life whether the film is a comedy, such as Big that he acted in 1988 or an actor in an action film in 1995, Appolo 13 . In the movie Cast Away released in the year 2000 ("Full Cast and Crew," 2000), he devoted himself to portraying the characters role by gaining a significant amount of weight just so he could lose the weight during his time stranded on the island. Tom Hanks also relied on the method acting, which is where he utilizes his own personal feelings from experience to draw out emotions (2011 pg. 22). This kind of devotion from an actor helps accentuate the contents of a realistic story.

Missing Scene

The mise en scène is French for the spatial and temporal elements in film’s settings: props, costumes, make up, hairstyle, colors, lighting, and even the actors placements and movements (Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C.P, 2011, chapter 3, pg. 4) that assist the films storyline and plots.Don Burgess, the cinematographer of the motion picture profession concerns camera placement, lens, and the lighting elements (2011, chapter 4). In the scene Escape to sea provided by movieclips.com, Chuck attempts to escape the island in hope for rescue. The cinematographer places his camera below Chuck’s eye level to achieve the appearance of bigger waves as they crash down on him and the floating device he constructed. In the same scene, the suspense heightens also because of the cinematographer’s efforts, as he allows the camera to move with the motion of the sea. Although the movie was shot mainly using an objective camera, to establish an outside observer’s viewpoint (Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P, 2011, chapter 4, pg. 23), the movie lures its’ audience in as if they were part of the film, seeing and feeling all of what the character is experiencing. The cinematographer needs to be brilliant in connecting his elements with one another as well as the rest of the elements in the mise en scène to sustain and/or enhance Cast Away ’s content and realism.

Distant Sound

Sound is also an essential part of the films content, which can simply be dialogue, sound effects, and or music (Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C.P, 2011, chapter 6, pg. 13). Sound is important because it is informative to maintaining a films mood or tone. In Cast Away, the prominent sound is dialogue and because the story is primarily based upon one character andWilson the volleyball, the mood and tones are crucial in supporting the plots. For example, when Tom Hanks, Chuck, finally is able to make fire he excitingly expresses himself, which indicates that he is pleased with himself and his tone of voice not only sets the mood of joy in the scene, but also sustains the audience’s attentiveness by boosting their morale. However, we can also tell and feel through dialogue whenChuck is feeling not so positive. In his attempt to escape the isolated island on his makeshift raft, he loses his best friendWilson the volleyball and judging by the tone of voice accentuated by background waves softly breaking, he is worried and upset with himself for letting this happen (Movieclips, 2000). In this movie, dialogue is very important to the story’s content because it helps establish the characters’ various moods throughout the film, the movie’s characters, important information, assisting the audience to develop ideas about possible plots, and more importantly contributing to how the audience should feel.

Editing

Editing is probably the most crucial part in contributing a compelling film. An editor(s) has to piece together all the movie frames and sounds to enhance the films script (Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P, 2011, chapter 5, pg. 2). Not only is the editor piecing together a motion picture jigsaw puzzle, he or she is creating the picture as the pieces are being matched. Arthur Schmidt, the editor in collaboration with the director chooses what frames to use, discard, connect, and the transitions used to create the motion picture Cast Away . For instance, Arthur Schmidt had to sift through several frames shot from different camera angles and choose which ones fit together the best without a negative jarring effect. For example, before the plane makes impact with the sea there are a few direct eyeline match cuts, meaning that the film transitions from the character to the image he or she is viewing (2011, pg. 17-18), from Chuck to the view Chuck sees out the planes window back to Chuck again (Movieclips, 2000). Although this transition is abrupt, it correlates with the plot quite well by using multiple cameras and camera angles, yet maintaining the illusion that everything is hap­pening in a continuous time and space without disorientating the audience during the transition or also known as continuity editing (2011, pg. 16). Editors have a variety of techniques to create a well-structured film in order to bring it to life.

Final Cuts

Visually interpreting a potentially realistic story such as Cast Away takes efforts of collaboration from the screenwriter, cinematographer, designers, actors, and more, but most importantly the director because he makes the final cut (Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P, 2011, chapter 7, pg. 2-3). Generally, the public may portray the director as the man or woman who screams action and cut, but his or her style and directing techniques may pave the road to a successful film. The director of Cast Away, Robert Zemeckis ("Full Cast and Crew," 2000) tells the story in chronological order, beginning, middle, and end. Additionally, the plots also correlate with one another as one event of the story leads to another event, similar to a cause and effect. For example, Tom Hank’s character appears to be developing a toothache and tries to endure the pain through a good portion of the movie; however, as the agony becomes intolerable, he decides later in the film to extract the tooth using a prehistoric method. The director is ultimately responsible for deciding or agreeing with the overall film: the mise en scène, sound, special effects, the linear or non-linear order, and film production techniques and if one of these elements do not sustain or accentuate the story’s contents, it will ultimately be his or her reputation in jeopardy.

Surreal or Reality

I believe Cast Away had and presumably still maintains an important societal impact. The story is about a potential threatening event that could happen to anyone. However, it does not have to happen according to the movies storyline because there is potential for anyone to be maroon on familiar territory, injured and unable to reach society for help, or any other circumstances could make someone fall victim in a similar relation to the film production Cast Away . The film portrays realism and establishes that the fight for survival is human instinct. I believe the film assist everyone who watched it that life is worth fighting for, whether it is a simple struggle through mere daily activities, physical or psychological illness, financial instability, martial issues, fighting a life threatening disease, or old age, most people battle to their limits to survive. Those who endure less than the character Chuck did in Cast Away are probably grateful that they did not experience such drama and for those that can relate a life experience to that of Chucks’ are most likely proud of achieving such a feat. The story’s content overall made me feel that I escaped my life, but it also enlighten me about all the daily aspects I take for granted in my realm.

Judgements

As far as film criticism and analysis, one should consider a few aspects before leaping to judgments. One being explicit content, did the movie directly communicate to you, did you understand the message the director was trying to convey with dialogue and obvious visuals (Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P, 2011, chapter 10, pg. 8 ). For example, Wilson the volleyball symbolizes Chuck’s loneliness, losing his sanity, and ironically establishing companionship with the inanimate object to gain a sense of security, similar to a child with his or her teddy bear (Bobbi Stonskas, 2011). Look for implicit content as well, which means that themes, ideas, and attitudes are implied however not explicitly stated, but the audience can still establish this understanding through the characters acts, reactions, and growth throughout the story and plots (2011, pg. 8). Thinking outside of the box is also serves as good evaluation. Symptomatic content refers to observing the film as an indication of something other than the film itself, the plots, characters, techniques, forms, and so on (2011pg. 9). An example of a symptomatic content in Cast Away would be the scene where Chuck is attempting to start a fire. He is determined to succeed even after he repetitively fails and injures his hand, but the morale boost gave him the will to endure when he achieved success. A good film critique must not only watch the entire film for entertainment, but also picked apart scene for scene to evaluate all of its contents.

Cast it Again

The film Cast Away appeared brilliantly executed by the director, cinematographer, editor, other players, their associates, and their collaborative efforts. The director’s style and techniques kept my attentiveness, the cinematographer captured astounding photography, and the editor, the most important coworker, in my opinion, pieced together a flawless piece of art that inspired, intrigued, and enlightened its audience. All of the films contents worked well together to bring the screenwriter’s story to life. Although I have not gone through any dramatic experiences as those revealed in the movie, I can say I felt Chuck’s emotions. Most importantly, the film relayed a message that life is priceless and every aspect of it is worth living no matter how demoralizing one may feel.


References

Bobbi Stonskas (2011). A Critique Casted Away Retrieved from from Online Adjunct

Teaching Assistant at Ashford University, 2011. View your marked-up document.

Goodykoontz, B., & Jacobs, C. P. (Bridgepoint Education, Inc.). Ashford University


Discovery Series: Film: From Watching to Seeing . (Original work published

2011) Retrieved from Film: From Watching to Seeing Chapters 3 & 4.

Full cast and crew for Cast Away (2010). The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) .

RetrievedFebruary 6, 2011, from IMDb database. Cast and crew information.

Movieclips. (2010, December 10). Escape to Sea [Video file]. Retrieved from

http://movieclips.com/.

Movieclips. (2000, December 10). Plane Crash [Video file]. Retrieved from

http://movieclips.com/.

Movieclips. (2000, December 10). Im Sorry, Wilson [Video file]. Retrieved from

http://movieclips.com/.

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