WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Although, if you haven't already seen All is Lost by now, you're probably never going to see it, or at least you're not going to feel too broken up by my spoilers, I hope?
I think there are probably at least two reasonable "readings" of the marvelous Robert Redford movie, All is Lost.
A straightforward reading is to see it as an adventure story, with the setting for the adventure being "solo sailing on the open ocean":
- What would you do if your boat was suddenly and unexpectedly damaged?
- How would you keep yourself alive as long as possible?
- What actions could you take to increase your likelihood of being discovered/found/rescued?
- How would you keep your mental health and motivation high under a time of great stress?
And so forth.
Another reading, perhaps equally valid, and perhaps equally interesting, is to see the movie in a more spiritual way, as a metaphor for your life and existence. You'll think this is a stretch, but consider:
- At the beginning of the movie, Redford is sleeping, comfortably secure and at rest in the "womb" of his sailboat.
- He is awoken by a fierce and terrifying event (the mid-ocean collision with the submerged shipping container) which pulls him out of his simple and trivial existence and immediately poses immediate and life-threatening problems for him to solve.
- As he goes, he solves one problem after another, adapting to his surroundings, using what he has been given at "birth", learning from his experiences, exploring his world.
- At the end, when all is, in fact, lost, and Redford is sinking below the waves, looking up, he sees first a halo (the doughnut-shaped life raft, on fire), then a bright light, then, as he reaches out, there is a disembodied hand that reaches down from above, to pull him up to his next life.
I'm sure there are other readings as well, but these are two that occurred to me.
Honestly, we aren't given an awful lot of information about how to choose a reading for this movie, which makes it very similar to another lovely-but-odd-movie-set-aboard-a-boat-with-much-symbolism, Life of Pi.
But, getting back to All is Lost, the most important input into the reading of the movie, I think, is the short speech that is delivered at the start of the movie, in a flash-forward (see, I told you this was nothing but spoilers), which goes as follows:
I'm sorry. I know that means little at this point, but I am. I tried, I think you would all agree that I tried. To be true, to be strong, to be kind, to love, to be right. But I wasn't. And I know you knew this. In each of your ways. And I am sorry. All is lost here, except for soul and body, that is, what's left of them, and a half day's ration. It's inexcusable really, I know that now. How it could have taken this long to admit that I'm not sure, but it did. I fought till the end. I'm not sure what that is worth, but know that I did. I have always hoped for more for you all. I will miss you. I'm sorry.From the reference to 'soul and body', to the topics of being 'true' and 'right' and 'hoping for more', to the overall framing of this speech as something that might occur on Judgement Day, it's quite hard to see this speech as being included in the movie for any reason other than to promote the "spiritual" reading of the movie.
The "this movie tells the story of the life of a human" reading.
I don't have much more to say about any of this (not even sure this much was worth saying), but there it is.
And, of course, this wasn't a very challenging reading: plenty of others noticed this the first time they saw it
And, of course of course, it wasn't really the best movie to learn about sailing.
But anyway: Robert Redford! Sailing! Movie!
I enjoyed watching it.