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Survival Skills ~ Hollywood Style

Updated on October 2, 2014
MBurgess profile image

Preparedness has been a passion of mine since I endured Hurricane Andrew in Florida. It is my second favorite topic to write about.

Survival Skills In Hollywood Movies

Naturally, The Hunger Games is on the top 10 of everyone's list of survival skills in Hollywood. Films demonstrate in dramatic ways how solid survival skills can get a person through disasters, calamity, or uncertain times. These scenes and plots are useful for surviving in various scenarios and give us some great ideas for creating survival plans. While they may be fictional, they still represent courageous, ingenious people and their valiant efforts in extreme hardships.

These Hollywood survival movies are great mental exercises for the *what if* of emergency planning.

You should be ready for anything if you are serious about preparedness. While it is not possible to examine and plan for every imagined situation, having some idea of what to do in various events is important. In some of the following cases I believe the plot is very similar to what life would be like in a total social and economic collapse. When society is wrought sideways and the foundations of our world are destroyed every waking hour is a battle for daily existence. Food, water, shelter, energy, safety, and defense are a 24 hour struggle.

Events featured in survival movies range from post-apocalyptic times and fatal plagues, to man against nature, or man against man, even man against aliens. While some of the events in these movies are over-dramatized they can give us ideas of what may occur where social foundations are collapsed completely. I will be doing something different here in reviewing not the films but the skill sets that I found important within these plots.

Survival skills are applied in many different plot lines in this list of Top Hollywood survival movies. From these films come fantastic examples of great heroes with incredible courage and examples of master survivors. They include many important tips we can apply to our contingency planning.

A common theme is scavenging for food and goods. Anything that will help give another mile, another meal. They are searching though society's wreckage for anything that would help their journey.

The exception for this is the movie, The Edge. I posted it here because of the skills it shows. Still, this movie demonstrates the basic concepts of building a fire, finding water, searching for foods, and setting up a safe shelter. All of these are important to individual survival.

Reviews are G-rated thought the films may not be.

The Hunger Games - Movie Poster - Amazon

The information about the movie release dates, ratings, and running times are from links in Wikipedia and Yahoo movies

Vote For Your Favorite! - Survival Movies

These are my personal favorite Top 10 Survival Movies. Vote on your favorites here. Maybe we can take this to a top 20 or 30 or even higher! Vote on the ten here and add one of your own below! Your additions will be added to the list with credit to you for suggesting it as well as your comments.

What is your favorite in this Top 10 Survival Movie List?

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Soylent Green Movie Poster - Amazon
Soylent Green Movie Poster - Amazon

Soylent Green

Starring Charlton Heston and Edward G. Robinson

My Hollywood Survival movie list begins with Soylent Green .

Starring: Charlton Heston and Anthony Zerbe

Released: 1973

Rated: PG

Length: 97 min

Soylent Green addresses the problem of over population. In the movie food rationing and riots are among the trouble dealt out to Charlton Heston who plays a cop searching for clues in an awful murder. Where the clues lead him is even more heinous then the crime he is investigating.

Soylent Green also addresses a host of environmental issues that rend Earth an over crowded mess. The foods they can get are too expensive to buy and the food they can have access to is heavily rationed. Water is scarce and so is personal space.

The survival skill idea I was most impressed me here in Soylent Green was the bicycle generator used in one section of the film. Being able to produce power when the electrical grid collapses is a great survival skill! It requires a few basic mechanical skills and an understanding of how electricity works.

The Omega Man Movie Poster - Amazon
The Omega Man Movie Poster - Amazon

The Omega Man

Starring: Charlton Heston and Anthony Zerbe

The Omega Man

Starring: Charlton Heston and Anthony Zerbe

Released: 1971

Rated: PG

Length: 98 min

The Omega Man was one of the first of the zombie type films to be released and the second adaptation of Richard Matheson's novel, The Last Man on Earth. Though the zombies in this movie are not flesh eaters which are so popular in plots today there is a need to be extremely cautious. Surviving hour to hour in a post plague scenario, Robert Neville, is apparently the only normal human left in this post-plague movie. Chosen in the list for it's demonstration of defense tactics and the way the world would look if this kind of a devastation truly happened. It's a view of what the world might be like in a fatal pandemic. The movie is the prequel to "I am Legend".

The Day After Tomorrow Movie Poster (27 x 40) - Amazon $16.95
The Day After Tomorrow Movie Poster (27 x 40) - Amazon $16.95

The Day After Tomorrow

Starring: Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal

The Day After Tomorrow

Starring: Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal

Released: May 2004

Rated: PG-13

Length: 124 minutes

In The Day After Tomorrow cataclysmic weather changes cause the temperatures to drop to sub-zero and fatal. Improvising shelter and protection against deadly storms is told in this tale of survival and a father's drive to find and rescue his son.

It is also a reminder of what happens when warnings go unheeded.

The information on surviving in Arctic conditions and the possibility of weather changing in dramatic fashion are related in this story adapted from the book: The Coming Global Superstorm, a book co-authored by Coast to Coast AM talk radio host Art Bell and Whitley Strieber.

(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_After_Tomorro...

Image: Amazon

The Edge Starring Anthony Hopkins - Movie Poster Amazon
The Edge Starring Anthony Hopkins - Movie Poster Amazon

The Edge

Starring: Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin

The Edge

Starring: Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin

Released: September 1997

Rated: R

Length:1 hrs. 57 min.

Sometimes the survival situation isn't a major natural disaster it is one on one. Man against nature or man against man. In the movie The Edge the plot shows how some basic wilderness skills can overcome treachery in the wild and in the heart.

I am interested in the various techniques Hopkins character uses in the film. Being able to use the second hand of his watch to create a compass is definitely unique.

Having the skills of an Eagle Scout can be very handy!

Independence Day Movie Poster (27 x 40) - Amazon $16.95
Independence Day Movie Poster (27 x 40) - Amazon $16.95

Independence Day

Starring: Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum

Independence Day

Starring: Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum

Released: July 2, 1996

Rated: PG-13

Length: 145 minutes

The families and the struggles they face, the sacrifices they make, and the challenges they endure are part of what I think make a great survivor. In Independence Day these families face many such situations. With this movie the survivors of human race has to pull it together or we are all lost. Binding together to carry on in the midst of a major disaster is why I chose this movie.

Reign of Fire (dragon) - Movie Poster (27x40) Amazon &16.36
Reign of Fire (dragon) - Movie Poster (27x40) Amazon &16.36

Reign of Fire

Starring: Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey

Reign Of Fire

Starring: Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey

Released: July 2002

Rated: PG 13

Length: 101 minutes

In yet another post-war movie, Reign Of Fire, the war isn't man made but it was mankind triggered. The way these people put together a safe shelter and do their best to survive and rebuild while still trying to protect their resources is great. The movie had more than one hero in it and that's one of the many things I liked about it. That and I love dragons!

The other item of interest in this film is the focused attention on protecting and training the children left behind.

Image: Amazon

The Stand starring Gary Sinese - DVD - Amazon
The Stand starring Gary Sinese - DVD - Amazon

The Stand

Starring: Gary Sinise and Molly Ringwald

The Stand ~ T.V. Mini-Series

Starring: Gary Sinise and Molly Ringwald (and a host of other great stars!)

Released: May 1994

Rated: PG

Length: 366 minutes

A pandemic of mass proportion wipes out 99% of the population. What is left is a journey to safe meeting places with other survivors and the rebuilding of a social structure for the preservation of humans that are still alive.

In The Stand, skills such as foraging, seeking and setting up safe shelter, personal defense and escaping marauders, adapting to new environments are unfolded. The remnants assemble for leadership and delegate social responsibilities with in the gathered survivors base camp. Skills learned in normal life are valuable life-saving skills in survival mode.

The Road Movie Poster (27 x 40) Amazon - $16.95
The Road Movie Poster (27 x 40) Amazon - $16.95

The Road

Starring: Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee

The Road

Starring: Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee

Released: November 2009

Rated: R (language and violence)

Length: 113 minutes

Viggo Mortensen of Lord Of The Rings stars as The Road, a father trying to survive in a world that is brutal and harsh. The world is a journey of searching out safe shelter, food gathering, and avoiding trouble.This film views a father's struggle with survival in a modern dark age.

I recently read this story in paperback. The images depicted in sad tale are in my opinion, frighteningly accurate. The labor of the day is scavenging for any morsel of food, water, and staying dry and warm. This would be tough enough for an adult let alone having a child to protect in the meantime. If you choose to read the book or watch the movie be aware it is very graphic. but from my beliefs a real portrayal of life in post-apocalyptic times.

The plot describes possibilities in a world that is no longer safe for man, woman, or child.

THE BOOK OF ELI MOVIE POSTER 2 Sided ORIGINAL 27x40 - Amazon
THE BOOK OF ELI MOVIE POSTER 2 Sided ORIGINAL 27x40 - Amazon

The Book Of Eli

Starring: Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman

The Book Of Eli

Starring: Denzel Washington and Gary Oldman

Released: January 2010

Rating: R (violence and language)

Length: 1 hr 58 min

Eli is on a quest to reach his destination and isn't about to let ANYTHING stop him.

Demonstrating excellent survival skills, our character rolls through extreme challenges in The Book of Eli from battling bands of marauders to foraging for food and finding safe shelter.

His defense skills are top notch and the conclusion to this plot is inspirational. Situations he faces are frightening and this would be a great outline for the what if's of society facing a complete breakdown.

I Am Legend - Starring Will Smith - Movie Poster (27 x 40) Amazon - $15.25
I Am Legend - Starring Will Smith - Movie Poster (27 x 40) Amazon - $15.25

My #1 Favorite Survival Movie?

I Am Legend

My #1 pick for Survival Movies is:

I am Legend

Starring: Will Smith and Alice Braga

Released: December 2007

Rated: PG-13 (violence)

Length: 100 minutes

In the film I Am Legend Dr. Robert Neville, played by Will Smith, is the movie's central character.

Surviving a massive deadly virus, his new life and daily routine is spent scavenging for new food sources and setting up a secure perimeter to guard against certain mortal threat. It is a powerful story about personal tests and survival.

A list of the survival skills shown in this film include: long term food storage, foraging, hunting, evacuation, living off the grid, sheltering at home

personal defense, perimeter defense.

I Am Legend - Official Trailer - Movie Trailer

I Am Legend is one of the best movies of survival against great odds. View the movie trailer here:

Though I have listed only a few of my favorite survival movies here I am certain there are many other films out there that demonstrate the strength of the human spirit. These are fictional tales of people facing near-impossible barriers and in their own battles have won a victory or overcome incredible odds with their efforts.

What is Your Favorite Survival Movie?

Add it to the list here...

Also: What skills do you think it takes to be a true survivor?

Comments - Review

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    • MBurgess profile image
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      Maria Burgess 4 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      @anonymous: Thanks for dropping by and taking time to comment!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      You need patience and true grit. Very cool lens. Excellent selection of movies.