The man, the element
Oct 17 2013
Man-versus-sea saga, All is Lost, plays on fears of loneliness, abandonment and survival
All is Lost was shot at Baja Studios, Rosarito Beach, in Mexico — a location that was originally built to facilitate the filming of Titanic. The film screened out of competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
Redford plays an ageing sailor (whose name we never learn), who decides to head off on a solo voyage, meant to be a journey of relaxation and self-discovery, into the Indian Ocean. But the expedition turns into a nightmare from the word go — the yacht crashes into an abandoned shipping container, the lower cabin floods, and all communication equipment is completely damaged. Waiting for a rescuer or a passing ship seems to be no use, and the veteran has no option but to set sail in the ship’s life raft. But stranded in the middle of the mighty ocean with fast-diminishing supplies and facing ominous dark clouds, the situation seems doomed. Will the experi-enced mariner make it?
All is Lost plays on fears of loneliness, abandonment and survival — issues that are central to each of us at some time in life. Redford puts in a tour de force performance — it’s not easy to hold an audience for so long without any dialogue, and the actor does it by wielding a variety of expressions. Except for a few muttered expletives, he’s seen fuming, wincing, scowling and glaring by turns. By the end of his journey, we are willing companions.
The film may be a change of pace for Chandor, but it has its similarities with his debut effort, a financial indie. Margin Call focused on an investment banking team facing an imminent market crash, unfolding within 24 hours, and the struggle to survive. That very struggle to stay afloat is what All is Lost is all about! While casting, the director was looking for someone “iconic as well as everyman”. He was hoping that what would work is “hopefully you forget that it’s Robert Redford on the surface because the situation is so dire and outside of the norm. But subconsciously you bring your sort of history with this person and your own experience with him”.
Redford has had one of the most chequered careers in Hollywood — he’s starred and directed in iconic films and has single-handedly made the Sundance Film Festival the premiere indie showcase. He last starred in Lions for Lambs (2007) and will next be seen in Marvel Studios’ super hero film Captain America: The Winter Soldier playing the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. Redford has, over his career, picked up two Oscars — for directing Ordinary People (1981) and for Lifetime Achievement (2002). Surprisingly, he’s only been nominated for one Academy Award for acting (The Sting). Will All is Lost change all that? There’s already an Oscar buzz in the air!