Time is relative. Chuck is taken from a clock oriented world to a nature oriented world. Relationship proves to be more important than time. But it too is relative. Chuck is left at the cross roads of life.
-Review by David Bruce
Hollywood Jesus


This page was created on December 29, 2000
This page was last updated on April 24, 2003

Click here to enlargeDirected by Robert Zemeckis
Written by William Broyles Jr.

Tom Hanks .... Chuck Noland (=No Land)
Helen Hunt .... Kelly Frears (=Kelly Girl temps)
Christopher Noth
Nick Searcy
Lauren Birkell
Viveka Davis
Ashley Edner (voice)
Fred Smith .... Himself
Lari White .... Bettina Peterson
Valerie Wildman

Produced by Steven J. Boyd (associate), Joan Bradshaw (executive), Tom Hanks, Jack Rapke, Steven Spielberg (uncredited executive), Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis
Original music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography by Don Burgess
Film Editing by Arthur Schmidt

Rated PG for some intense images and action sequences.

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At the edge of the world, his journey begins.

Hanks stars as Chuck Noland, a FedEx systems engineer whose personal and professional life are ruled by the clock. His fast-paced career takes him, often at a moment's notice, to far-flung locales -- and away from his girlfriend Kelly, played by Helen Hunt.

Chuck's manic existence abruptly ends when, after a plane crash, he becomes isolated on a remote island -- cast away into the most desolate environment imaginable. Stripped of the conveniences of everyday life, he first must meet the basic needs of survival, including water, food and shelter. Chuck, the consummate problem solver, eventually figures out how to sustain himself physically. But then what? Chuck begins his true personal journey.

After four years, fate gives Chuck a chance to fight his way back to civilization, only to find an unexpected emotional challenge greater than all the earlier physical ones. His ability to persevere and to hope are a product of his life-changing experience. Though the conclusion of Chuck's story may not be a conventional Hollywood ending, it is, like life, full of truth, pain and promise.
? 2000 20th Century Fox

-The Tyranny of Time.

Click here to enlargeEVERYTHING CHANGES
Aw, romance.
Love forever, right?
Human relationship -powerful -awesome!
Eternal? No!
Heartache happens.

Click here to enlargeTHE TYRANNY OF TIME
See the clock on the wall?
Chuck's world is run by the clock.
Even his relationship with Kelly.

The illusoriness or unreality of time, in respect of our spiritual life, is not always very firmly grasped.

Click here to enlargeKELLY'S GIFT TO CHUCK
A timeless relationship set in relationship to time. This is the symbol that drives the whole story. It is a reminder that everything is only temporary. Everything is time related and passing away. Nothing in the material universe is eternal -not even human relationships. The message in this film is chilling, and frightening.

Click here to enlargeLIVING IN A FED EX WORLD
I love the FED EX connection in this film.
It is a continuing reminder of our time scheduled existence.

Eternity is best conceived, not in the merely negative form of the non-temporal, or immeasurable time, but positively, as the mode of the timeless self-existence of the Absolute Ground of the universe. The flux of time grows first intelligible to us, only when we take in the thought of God as eternal?exalted above time. Timeless existence?being or entity without change?is what we here mean by eternity, and not mere everlastingness or permanence through time. God, in His internal being, is raised above time; in His eternal absoluteness, He is throned above temporal development, and knows, as the Scriptures say, no changeableness. The conception of eternity, as without beginning or ending, leaves us with but a negation badly in need of filling out with reality. Eternity is not a mere negative idea; to make of eternity merely a blank and irrelevant negation of temporality would not satisfy any proper theory of being; it functions as the positive relation to time of that eternal God, who is King of all the eons.

Chuck yells out to Kelly, "I'll be right back."
We all know he won't be "right back."
Things change. Things happen.

Chuck's distorted face
is a face in the midst of a plane crash,
in the midst of one of life's greatest lessons.
It is a face facing the truth that we are not in total control.
--And, thank God, neither is the clock.

There is an existence beyond clock time.

The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.
-Isaiah 40:8

Eternity might, no doubt, be taken as just time no longer measured by the succession of events, as in the finite universe. But, on a strict view, there is something absurd in an eternity that includes time, and an eternity apart from time is a vain and impossible conception. Eternity, as a discharge from all time limits, is purely negative, though not without importance. Eternity, absolutely taken, must be pronounced incommensurable with time. Eternity would lose its character as eternal in the very entering into relations with the changeful or becoming. Eternity, as in God, has, since the time of Augustine and the Middle Ages, been frequently conceived as an eternal Now. There is a maxim that says ?in eternity is one only instant always present and persistent.? This is but a way of describing eternity in a manner characteristic of succession in time; but eternal Deity, rather than an eternal Now, is a conception far more full of meaning for us.

St. Augustine said, ?Join thyself to the eternal God, and thou wilt be eternal.?

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Time is relative.
Chuck is taken from a clock oriented world
to a nature oriented world.

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We have an inborn need to survive.
We want to flourish.
We want to live --forever!
We are incredibly resourceful.
We are extremely creative.
Guess whose image we reflect?

Then God said, ?Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.? So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
- Genesis 1:26-27

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Scriptures declare that humans are created in the image of God. This ?image? does not consist in bodily form; it can only reside in spiritual qualities, in our mental and moral attributes as a self-conscious, rational, personal agent, capable of self-determination and obedience to moral law. This gives us position of lordship in creation, and invests our being with the sanctity of personality. The image of God, defaced, but not entirely lost through sin, is restored in yet more perfect form in the redemption of Christ.
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This is blood of my blood.
Meet Wilson, my friend.

Then the LORD God said, ?It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.? -Genesis 2:18

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Click here to enlargeFIRE IN THE MODERN WORLD
I liked the image of fire in this film.
It symbolizes how much we take for granted.

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The production of this film stopped for one year while Tom Hanks lost 40 pounds and grew his hair long.
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Chuck sets off to in an attempt to find home.
He misses Kelly. But, 4 years have passed.
He is about to re-enter the world of the clock.
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Things have changed.
Kelly is now married.
She believed Chuck had died in the crash.

Click here to enlargeTHE CROSSROADS OF LIFE.
Relationship proves to be more important than time. But it too is relative.

Chuck is left at the cross roads of life wondering which way to go.

He has lost everything.
His only direction is a pair of angel wings drawn on a FED EX box.
I took this symbol to mean the Divine presence that is at work behind the scene in all our our lives.

Have you ever been at the cross roads of life?
Have you ever been stripped of everything you have?
Have you ever wondered which way to go?
Have you ever been friend-less.
Have you ever had romance disappear?
This film is about that.

Remember: God is there with you.

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision!
For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.
-Joel 3:14


When peace like a river,
attendeth my way,
When sorrows like the sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot,
Thou hast taught me to say,
?It is well with my soul.?

-Horatio G. Spafford

Some months prior to the Chicago Fire of 1871, Horatio Spafford had invested heavily in real estate on the shore of Lake Michigan, and his holdings were wiped out by this disaster. Just before this, he had experienced the death of his son. Desiring a rest for his wife and four daughters as well as wishing to join and assist his friends D. L. Moody and Ira Sankey in one of their religious campaigns in Great Britain, Spafford planned a European trip for his family in 1873. In November of that year, due to unexpected last-minute business developments, he had to remain in Chicago; but he sent his wife and four daughters on ahead as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Havre. He expected to follow in a few days. On November 22 the ship was struck by the Lochearn, an English vessel, and sank in twelve minutes. Several days later the survivors were finally landed at Cardiff, Wales, and Mrs. Spafford cabled her husband, "Saved alone."

Shortly afterward Spafford left by ship to join his bereaved wife. It is speculated that on the sea near the area where it was thought his four daughters had drowned, Spafford penned this text with words so significantly describing his own personal grief,

When sorrows like the sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot,
Thou hast taught me to say,
?It is well with my soul.?

It is noteworthy, however, that Spafford does not dwell on the theme of life's sorrows and trials but focuses attention in the third stanza on the redemptive work of Christ and in the fourth verse anticipates His glorious second coming. Humanly speaking, it is amazing that one could experience such personal tragedies and sorrows as did Horatio Spafford and still be able to say with such convincing clarity, "It is well with my soul."

Subject: Cast_Away
Date: Fri, 4 May 2001
From: Susan

I was really struck by the images of the whale. I was reminded of Jonah and his story of redemption. Chuck changed his whole life because he became a better man. The grasping for "hope" through the whole movie, his relationship with "Wilson" and his rebirth on the outhouse raft complete with resurrection symbol painted on the thing! What a great conversation starter of a movie - can't wait to use it and your notes next month!!

Date: Wed, 25 Apr 2001
From: Avon Lady

I thought this was a fascinating. Although I did think that it was unusual that he didn't pray once -- many of his personal feelings were not voiced. Only when Hanks tried cheering himself up in "dialogue" with Wilson did he verbalize any feelings.

"Let's not commit the sin of abusing time," was repeated throughout the film. First in militant enthusiasm; lastly in irony.

This film made me think about 'to do" lists, and the exaggerated feeling of accomplishment I have when I cross them all off. There is something more important than accomplishment of man-made goals. We can be a slave to time; or we can cherish the gift. Hanks, as a FedEx manager, enslaved everyone to beating the clock in order to get the job done. His job carried over into his personal life and clouded his own judgments about relationships.

I think that the director of this movie wanted everyone to realize how difficult it is to slow down in these times by forcing them to sit through over an hour of viewing Hanks personal struggles. It was a superb dynamic, in my opinion. I was very restless as Hanks seemed to get nowhere, until I slipped into a deeper way of relating to his journey. Sometimes when it seems we are getting nowhere; we are actually covering more ground spiritually.

Although the movie ended sadly, I thought the twist was crisp as Hanks stood at the crossroads and was suddenly given directions by a young lady without his asking. There was no question that Hanks could have found his way wherever he was going after navigating his way back home from an unknown island. He knew how to get anywhere -- but this time he stood a changed man; where his directions would take on a new course. He had befriended time.

I am reminded of the scripture in Joshua 10:13 where time stood still for Joshua when he was fighting the Amorites. I think that God saw a man who was making the most of his moment and he made it bigger. That's how I walked away from the movie; hoping that my moments are lived that way.

Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001
From: "Jon Brisbin"

Overall, informative reviews of Castaway, but I have to address a few nit-picks to the responses/reviews by readers :-)

1) An atheist/agnostic will undoubtedly bypass references to any form of supernatural power that would appear to be higher than Man. Even if they're an atheist by choice and know better, you have to expect someone like Robert Zemeckis to avoid spiritual quandries. If you'd like to change that, then by all means, WITNESS ;-)

2) The screenwriter may very well have put "spiritual-journey" scenes into the purchased screenplay, but the producers and directors and re-writers yanked them out. Don't be so quick to blame the screenwriter since they almost never have significant control over the screenplay unless they're rewriting and/or directing (I'm sympathetic to screenwriters since I aspire/feel-called to be one ;-).

3) Hollywood execs DO HAVE a liberally-slanted misconception of the moral beliefs of the true "moral majority". Deal with it! :-) Unless you are an unsaved agnostic that's been raised in a spiritually-devoid family/culture and do not have the benefit of guidance from the Holy Spirit, then consider that they don't know any better unless YOU tell them ;-)

4) Castaway is just plain, good 'ol, WONDERFUL FILM-MAKING.
Jon Brisbin

Subject: Cast_Away
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2001
From: Rev Kat

I strongly urge all of you out there who think that Cast Away has not redemptive themes to look at this film and think about HOPE. At every turn, Noland is faced with a hopeless situation--and at every turn hopelessness is transformed into a victory. "The sun still rises." In the midst of the darkest and most overwhelming odds, Noland understood that hope never dies. That constant hope is what we saw symbolically expressed in the angel wings on the Fed Ex package. And Nolan kept it with him always.
Rev Kat

Date: Tue, 6 Feb 2001
From: Gil

After the basic things in life ( shelter, food, clothing ) are taken care of, what do we do with our time? What is it that we treasure the most in life? Companion-ship? Things? The experiment that Cast-Away is conducting seems to be - Isolate a man from people, friends, love ones, his normal everyday environment, put him in an semi-hospitable island and see what he does. What would we do? Could a woman survive equally as well? Noland was too busy to develop meaningful relationships while "living" in civilization. Now that he is literally all alone, he is slowly going insane not having a single soul to commune with.

99.9% of the population are involved in "reactive" relationships, that is, by the very nature of our needs we have to involve ourselves with others; grocer, mailman, waiters and waitresses etc. But what about hermits, those who have left civilization to live on their own whatever the reason might be. I suppose with them it's a personal decision to ostracize themselves from their community. Nolan's predicament was thrust upon him, therefore his growing need to communicate with someone. His attempt at "creating" someone to commune with (The Wilson soccer ball) was a sad one. Thinking about it, I'm not surprised that Chuck didn't reach out for G-d, due to the fact that the director is an atheist. This revelation was made public when his movie Contact came out.

Some of us would probably reach out to G-d in extreme dire circumstances and some of us would not. Cast-away is painfully humanistic at its core. The message seems to be that life is "open" to us and we are "free" to create from it what we wish. Existentialism seemed to be the dish of the day. When our life-patterns are disturbed and thrown for a loop we are put in a difficult situation to make difficult choices. It was saddening to see Chuck Noland confused at the end, I'm sure ever questioning but not knowing why this had happened to him. No one seriously to take his questions, fears, confusion to. Yes, life is open to him but it seems to be a cold start. Noland at the crossroads - what will he do next? what would we do? does it matter? Do we not occupy a place in this world? Is there not a reason for us being here? According to Cast-away, I guess not!

Date: Wed, 10 Jan 2001
From: Dods Pengra Houston, Tx

"Let's not commit the sin of turning our back on time." I think that was the line. This movie touched me very deeply. With such a wonderful score by Alan Silvestri and great direction from Robert Zemeckis, it's no wonder that I loved it so much. I didn't realize it, but, collectively, there are seventy-three minutes in the movie with no dialogue or music. I found that absolutely amazing. Being busy now, it seems to be addictive. The busier we are, the more important our lives seem to us and to the others that know how busy we are. The more important our lives, the more meaning we think we take on. "Nicoli....tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock." That says to me how we are destroying the childhood in ourselves. When I was in high school, I was enjoying being young, making a few more decisions. Now it's all about resumes and what organizations you belong to. We are snuffing out the light of the youth. "We live and we die, by the clock." Chuck's transformation, I feel, is most felt in his dealings with his friend who's wife has cancer. In the first place, he feels a need to be part of the fixing process. "I know a doctor...he's supposed to be the absolute best..." Then when he returns, it's..."I'm so sorry that I wasn't there for you...." That says more to me than anything. Just because I tell you it's broken doesn't mean that I asked you to fix it. Words are fairly useless, and at those times we need to realize that presence is saying more than any words could. We all seem to fight to out do the other in how busy we are. "You think you're busy? I'm busier." I just keep thinking about those seventy-three minutes of silence in the movie. Maybe we should be spending more time in silence. Silence with God. Away from the phones, the traffic, the tv, the noise, and just listen to life happening around us.
Dods Pengra Houston, Tx

Subject: Cast Away or Out Cast
Date: Tue, 9 Jan 2001
From: Matthew

Excellent Movie, If you try, just a little, the redemptive message is plane to see. God has provided a way to get off the island. It was due to no work of hanks that half of an outhouse floats up on a Island in the middle of nowhere. We also discover that this world will never satisfy, but God has a plan for our lives while we are hear(delivering a message?). Andy, your preconceived prejudices of Hollywood don't allow to see that some have a pulse.

Date: Sat, 6 Jan 2001
From: Motbgo

I heard this was such a great movie, but forgot to consider the sources from which that opinion came from. I would think any person in a situation so desperate as that would look to God. It bothered me and seemed unrealistic that there was not one reference of God, not one time did he ask for the help of God. He gave credit for his survival to himself alone. Although to a believer it is obvious, God is present. He created us to be survivors, which seems impossible without the wisdom of God. You have to admit, Chuck was not too wise at first with his resources. The whale, I thought was a spiritual guide of sorts. The whale is a New Age symbol, but nonetheless, it is God's creation corrupt by people. If a person were to ask for God's help or even when they don't ask, it would be like Him to use so! mething so tangible. The wings on the FedEx package also was a sort of celestial guiding. Would he have chosen the package if it's symbol were, say, flames and a pitch fork? In parts, it seemed to move along too slowly, but later I realized it was necessary to relay how his world had changed so monumentally. Well, it's only a movie, I appreciated it for it's entertainment value and it was well written. I've seen much worse. Besides, there isn't much to do here in WI in the winter.

Subject: Unrealistically Godless
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2001
From: Len Woods

Cast Away was an entertaining movie and much more thought-provoking than most of the dreck cranked out by Hollywood. And, clearly Hanks is one of our better, more likable actors. My beef with the movie is that Hanks' character did not utter a single spiritual reference--no pleadings with God, no cries for divine help, not even a helpless look up into the cosmos. I think this is utterly unrealistic and believe that 99.9 percent of people in such a dire situation (including the majority of self-proclaimed agnostics and atheists), would be so desperate and frantic that they would instinctively reach out (or UP!) for some kind of supernatural help and solace. Fools may declare in their hearts that there is no God, but fools in trouble typically act otherwise. Is Cast Away a classic example of Hollywood's secular nature? Is the industry THAT out of touch with normal, average people? I suspect it is. I'm NOT suggesting that the filmmakers should have turned Cast Away into a religious conversion story, but even a couple of spiritual references (even vague New Age ones) would have made the Noland character more believable.
Len Woods

Subject: my thoughts
Date: Wed, 3 Jan 2001 1
From: Bueche

This movie raises alot of questions and bravely, doesn't spoon-feed us all the answers. This is one of the best movies I ever saw. It is absolutely captivating entertainment, and it made me think about my own life.

Subject: comments
Date: Tue, 02 Jan 2001
From: Kristi

This movie is a great example of how fine a filmmaker Tom Hanks really is. Between moments of high anxiety and emotion, he throws in something funny that we can all relate to. This movie was about the trauma and difficulty of starting over and catching up while at the same time fighting to survive. Once we pass basic survival, then the battle of life begins and we face the crossroads to our future. This movie truly entertained while making a profound statement on life.

Subject: movie critique
Date: Tue, 02 Jan 2001
From: Andy

This was a hugely disappointing film. All the potential was there to create a truly great film. As it is, it slips into all that is banal and wasteful about Hollywood. Think about it: do you know anything more about Noland at the end of the movie than you knew at the beginning of this film? He is introduced as two dimensional and he leaves the screen as two dimensional (a less heavy two dimensional character to be sure, due to his loss of weight). Throughout the movie, it appears that none of the more what makes us human philosophical or spiritual questions get raised or answered. Many of us have wondered what it would be like to be marooned on an island and the questions we might ask ourselves are many. These were largely absent in this movie. How would you survive emotionally on such an island? What would you do? Could you find meaning there? If so, what form would it take? How would you choose to live your life? What would make your life worthwhile? Is it possible to have a meaningful life without any human interaction whatsoever? What would prevent you from going mad? These are questions we inevitably bump up against on the island called earth? Wouldn't they be fit for consideration on an island where the sense of aloneness and a search for meaning would be drawn out in an even starker fashion?. In the hands of a more reflective writer and producer this script could have been made a redemptive device in our on going quest for understanding life? Where is the redemptive message in it all?

Cast Away ? 2000 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. and Dreamworks LLC