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Location: Stevens Point, Wisconsin, United States

Friday, December 20, 2013

All is Lost...or not enough

The photo is of a sloop owned by a friend. Though there are few shots of the boat featured in J. C. Chandor's All is Lost, I guess it to be a similar 44ft craft. The skipper in Chandor's film is an unnamed lone sailor played by Robert Redford. The movie is riveting for anyone who’s sailed much. Every possible disaster, from being holed—by a floating container, no less—to being blown over and dismasted, happens to Redford's energetic and resourceful character. He does a great job, without dialogue except for a despairing “fuck” shouted to the sky after a shark snatches the dorado he manages to hook after abandoning ship onto his inflatable. The saddest scene is his watching his boat going down, as slowly as death.

The largest theme is that the enormous, robotic system of supply created to provide stuff for us to buy—represented not only by the lost container but by the mammoth freighters which move them—is as remote and implacable as the sea. The skipper of the "Virginia Jean" manages to master his sextant and plots his drift into the Aden - Sumatra shipping lane across the Indian Ocean, only to be passed by two container-ships on autopilot, while he signals frantically and futilely launches flares.

The closing scene is ambiguous, however. Attempting to attract the attention of anyone aboard a third approaching vessel, and out of flares, Redford sets fire to his raft and goes overboard. He watches it burn as he slowly settles in the water, then gives it up. The camera follows him down ten fathoms or more, then turns to the surface, where a spot from aboard a launch is sweeping the flaming raft. Cut to Redford. His eyes open. He begins to ascend toward the light. He reaches up near the surface. A hand comes down and grips his. Fade to white…

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