by Paromita Datta
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Released Year: 2000
Cast: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt and Paul Sanchez
Creation of society has always been argued. Some sociologists say society has been created by man but other say man by society. But it is true that both of these concepts are overlapping each other and most importantly inseparable. When we watch the film ‘Cast Away’ generally the question that comes to our mind is some crucial existential question like what does it mean to be human? Why do we need society? What are the coping strategies for loss, hopelessness and isolation and still find the courage to face the next day? What makes us desperate to fight against the nature? Is it strong will power or promises or something else?
The story starts in 1995. Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) is an extremely dedicated FedEx (federal express) employee who flies around the world to help the company’s branch offices improve their operations and solve their problems. Chuck is a man who lives by the clock, as nothing is more important than getting his customers package to their destination on time. He tells his employee that time is a relentless enemy that they should never turn their backs on.
The movie starts with the road which signifies life. The person first driving the car knew his destination and delivered the package as directed. But when chuck came to the same road at the last scene of the movie he didn’t know which turn to take. He just believed in one motto of survival that he learned by staying in the isolated island for four years, that is, ‘Tomorrow the sun will rise and who knows what the tide will bring.’ This also gives the cause for our living and survival.
Humans always need to form society and among that survive as an individual. The thing which may appear very insignificant plays a very crucial role in our life. The same we find in the movie. The utter of having a friend made the protagonist adopt volleyball (Wilson). In his imagination he has brought the abstract ball into life which has accompanied him throughout. He used to share all his ideas, happiness and grief with his friend. He even drew lots of other faces assuming them to be his friend, beloved girl friend and even dentist.
The intensity of finding a friend even drags him down from the mountain when he saw the inert body of his colleague in the water. Even after being alone in the island he performs the funeral rituals for him. He writes epitaph in his remembrance. This shows the ethos of our society and its necessity. We even find him highly enthusiastic when for the first time he was able to light fire. This reflects the initiation of our civilization. Every individual of this civilization live by their own code of conduct. By unification of such codes the society prospers. The code Chuck lives by is time. He when alone in the island even maintained the calendar. According to Chuck, time is that emperor which rules over all; American-Russian, Nazis or Marx; we live and die by clock.
As the time passes by the loneliness made him suicidal. He attempted to commit but could not because of the love of his life. When he comes back after four years to modern civilization and tries to pick up the pieces of his life after a long absence he finds himself ‘Cast Away’ by society. He explains why- ‘so that’s what I did. I know somehow I have to stay alive and keep breathing even though there is no reason to hope and all my logic ended that I will never see this place again. I stayed alive, I kept breathing and one day that logic was proven all wrong because the tide came in and gave me a sail. Now here I am… and I have lost her all over again. I am so sad that I don’t have Kelly. But I’m so grateful that she was there with me in the island. I know what I have to do now.’
Lastly I do admit that I did not understand how the box with the symbol saved his life and why he does not open it till the end. But surely it depicts his sincerity, devotion and responsibility towards his work. He became disheartened by not getting his girl-friend back in his life but he did not give up with life. He have learnt many things and come back to his old occupation. The starting and ending of the movie at the same place signifies that life ends where it starts, teaching us the way of living, surviving and hoping for a better future, which is how the society was, is and will always be formed.