An Inspiring Story: Cast Away (2000)
is a 2000 drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks (Chuck) as a man marooned on an island after his plane crashes into the ocean. Far away from home, his girlfriend, and any human contact, he engages in a battle of wits with himself as he is tested mentally, physically, and emotionally in order to survive.
Let’s lift the mask off Chuck’s daring raft escape from the island and expose a beautiful allegory of one man’s spiritual journey to escape an oppressive, limiting situation.
At night on the beach, Chuck sees the lights of a ship, traveling across the ocean. He is suddenly infused with hope that he can escape the island and reclaim his life. Using a small flashlight he recovered from the body of the pilot, he tries to signal the ship but is unsuccessful. Chuck refuses to give up. He believes that he can be saved and must try again.
The next morning, he attempts to leave the island in the rubber raft that he inflated as his plane was sinking. Owing to the high breakers on the coral reef surrounding the island, his raft is washed back onto the reef and gets punctured, leaving him with no means to escape the island. He is also badly injured by the sharp coral.
The Space In Between
Chuck would have to wait another four years before he would challenge the turbulence of the ocean to make his great escape. Instead of four years breaking his spirit, it strengthened his resolve. And with a steely resolve, he was able to have the right mindset and inquisitive eyes to seize the next opportunity.
The winds of fortune change and Chuck happens upon two plastic walls of a broken port-a-potty recently washed ashore. Next, Chuck demonstrates the power of interpreting signs. Remembering the wings on the FedEx parcel, Chuck develops a plan for a raft with the port-a-potty's walls acting as a makeshift sail.
With new-found hope and confidence, he chops down trees and ties them together with rope made from tree bark and videotape he found in one of the FedEx parcels. Chuck has a master plan and the quality of mind to see it come to fruition.
Seizing The Opportunity
He plans his escape when the prevailing winds change from southwest to northeast. He is in a unique space where he is determined that the universe wants him to succeed. He has also become one with his environment.
While biding his time for the proper weather, Chuck begins to prepare food, water, and other necessities for his escape. Chuck is fully living out that when preparation meets opportunity, success is bound to happen.
Owing to the direction of the winds, with the aid of his sail and a pair of makeshift oars, he makes his daring escape over a major psychological barrier – the unwieldy coral reef. This time he has girded up his loins and learned from past mistakes to clear a major obstacle in his path to freedom.
Escaping Our Own Islands
Chuck’s raft escape from the island provides a glimpse into our own lives. What islands are we stranded on? What islands are we stranded on emotionally, mentally or spiritually? We have settled on that island, seeing our window of opportunity shutting?
The initial spark that catalyzed Chuck was seeing a ship’s light (as Bruce in The Dark Knight Rises). That sign of life and beacon of hope set off a chain of events. If there are signs among us, showing us the path to freedom, do we have the courage and resolve to go after it?
Chuck experienced a major setback on his path to freedom. Not only did his raft and body get punctured but also his spirit. It took Chuck four years to heal. How many of us in our paths to freedom have run into a wall? How many of us have been so hurt and dispirited in our path to freedom we’ve given up past the healing stage?
The Calm After The Storm
Chuck had no real idea of where he was headed but figured that he would rather die at sea than spend the rest of his life alone on that island. He had to do something bold to bust through that retentive circle (Steve in Captain America). When the turbulent waters crashed down on him, threatening to knock him off his raft and into the sea, he held on tightly – with all his might.
And when the violent waters could not break him and he busted through the final wall, everything went perfectly still around him. It was the calm after the storm. This is the space where Chuck received a new inheritance. He received his blessing for an indefatigable faith that refused to wither away.
This allegory of one man’s spiritual journey begs the question: what is waiting for us on the other side of life’s seemingly insurmountable barriers?
The Great Escape
Is this movie in your Top Ten All Time?
© 2013 Oswalda Purcell