by Gary Johnson
Robert Zemeckis' Cast Away is marvelously crafted and acted. It's a big two-and-a-half-hour adventure about isolation, love, and desperation. But do we really need another movie about being stranded on an island? Zemeckis' answer is to explore the learning process that allows the sole survivor of a plane crash to find food and shelter on an isolated South Pacific island. We see this process as Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks), a gung-ho American systems engineer for a major package delivery company, discovers how to smash open coconuts; how to swim/sail beyond the island's crashing waves; how to build a fire; how to build rope; etc. This is quite possibly the most convincing portrayal ever committed to celluloid of what it means to be isolated on a South Seas island with no human contact. Most importantly, however, Zemeckis is interested in the emotional devastation that accompanies Noland's separation from the woman he loves.
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