Cast Away Marks 20th Anniversary

Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Courtesy of Fox.

Cast Away, which landed Tom Hanks another nomination for Best Actor, is the most 2020 film to be celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020.

Think about it.  FedEx systems analyst executive Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) finds himself in the most 2020 position possible: stranded on a deserted island.  The film takes place in 1995 and Noland is in the worst possible position with no food, water, shelter, or company.  His only food comes by whatever he can catch and kill.  Sure, he has access to Pacific Ocean but the salt water is unfiltered.  And when it comes to shelter, Noland has to build it himself.

Noland’s December holiday started off like any other: having dinner with partner Kelly Frears (Helen Hunt) in Memphis, Tennessee.  You can look at the entire film as a commercial for FedEx so taking advantage of the Memphis locations make the perfect sense.  In any event, Noland is called into work because of a problem in Malaysia.  What should be a simple trip ends up going badly when the plane crashes during a violent storm.  While Noland escapes via the life raft, the emergency locator transmitter rips off.  I know what you’re think.  If Chuck Noland were Jewish, they would be able to find him because of not paying his synagogue membership dues.  Instead, Noland must wait four years to be rescued.  I guess it could be worse because Oliver Queen needed five years.

But even though he is eventually rescued, life isn’t going to be the same.  Friends and family held a funeral believing he was dead.  Kelly marries Jerry Lovett (Chris Noth) and they have a child together.  The only thing keeping Noland going is delivering a single FedEx package.  Where life takes him after this–we simply don’t know because the film comes to an end.

Tom Hanks is the perfect actor for the role.  With two Oscars for Best Actor under his belt, the film needed someone that could carry the film.  This is especially true when Hanks is acting opposite scene-stealing volleyball Wilson.  With Robert Zemeckis’s pedigree in comedy, Wilson also could have been treated like a joke.  Thankfully, this isn’t the case in Cast Away.

Zemeckis is also the final piece of the puzzle that was necessary to make this film.  Tom Hanks wanted to explore the “wanted to examine the concept of four years of hopelessness, in which you have none of the requirements for living — food, water, shelter, fire and company.”  It would take a few years because neither Hanks nor screenwriter William Broyles Jr. could figure it out.  Finally, Zemeckis comes aboard and suggests the FedEx scenario.  Wilson, for what it’s worth, was Broyles Jr.’s creation.  Film lovers are all the better because of this.

Alan Silvestri’s score is reaches the necessary sentimental points.  The score doesn’t really come into play until after Chuck leaves the island.  Without even realizing it, Silvestri’s score at times reminded me of the most emotional moments in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

A few years following its theatrical release, Cast Away would inspire the hit ABC series Lost.

DIRECTOR:  Robert Zemeckis
SCREENWRITER:  William Broyles Jr.
CAST:  Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Nick Searcy, Jenifer Lewis, Geoffrey Blake, Peter Von Berg, Chris Noth, Lari White

20th Century Fox opened Cast Away in theaters on December 22, 2000. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.