released by Dreamworks SKG. Sadly the Dreamworks
Marketing wizards have sabotaged viewer's enjoyment
again by revealing the entire narrative in their movie
trailer. If only these marketing experts could have
heeded one of the film's themes that "less is more,"
Dreamworks would have doubled their box office growth.
The story is a simple parable. Chuck Noland (Tom
Hanks,) a successful Federal Express Systems Engineer,
survives a plane crash and spends the rest of the
movie trying to return to civilization. Good parables
offer deeper meaning behind their simple narratives
and screenwriter William Broyles Jr. delivers.
After sustaining the primal need for food, clothing
and shelter, the question is raised; what else does
one need to be truly alive?
Zemeckis has a gift for directing the simple and make
it original. Cliches are avoided, there are no scenes
with Hanks crawling around on the sand rasping for
water while spotting a mirage. Zemeckis' favorite film
composer, Alan Silvestri, mutes his musical score for
the island scenes. "Castaway" is visually arresting
with it's nothingness.
It helps that Hanks is such an enthusiastic physical
actor. His performance invites the audience to share
the spiritual roller coaster ride his character
endures. "Cast Away" would not be as successful
without such a generous performance. Beer bellied and
uncoordinated upon his arrival on the island, Hanks
develops animal-like reflexes. While the much has
been written about Hanks' 40 pound weight loss, fad
dieters beware, the pot bellied remained.
While Hanks performance is a subtle tour de force, his
co stars add strong support. This is Helen Hunt's 4th
and final movie for year 2000. She has less screen
time, but her role is more affecting as a potential
unrequited love. If Hanks is Robinson Crusoe, Wilson
is his Man Friday. Wilson provides Hanks a foil on the
island. Wilson's performance had audience members in
tears and provides a strange audience attachment,
considering that Wilson is a volleyball. Wilson the
Volleyball recently sold on the Yahoo Auction block
for over $18,000.
"Cast Away" has been criticized for it's unconventional
ending. Yet if one looks at Zemeckis previous body of
successful work ("Contact," "Forrest Gump," The "Back
to the Future" trilogy,) one can see his consistent
themes on the responsibility of being an outsider, the
persistence of time and the importance of making a
decision in the crossroads of life. He makes use of
symbolism (a Fed Ex box with angels wings on it) and
creates riddles that respectfully allow the audience
to resolve within themselves.
While this motion picture has flaws, mostly attributed
to the Dreamworks marketing campaign, "Cast Away" is a
good movie that lets you appreciate the value of
simple things in life. Even visiting the dentist's
office takes on more significance after seeing "Cast