All Is Lost

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All Is Lost is a great example of Pure Cinema. The film doesn’t spend time explaining why this Man is out in the ocean, and has minimal dialogue. It takes us on a journey through his experience out in the Indian Ocean. Our Man (Robert Redford) wakes up to find a shipping container has crashed into his yacht causing water to flow inside. Immediately Our Man knows how to handle this situation and patches it up, with presumably years of experience out in ocean. As we follow him on his journey his radio and navigation equipment become damaged, which leaves him sailing towards an unrelenting storm. Supplies begin to dwindle and obstacles get in the way; Our Man slowly begins to stare his mortality in the face.

This film left me surprised, because I wasn’t expecting much from it and have never seen Robert Redford. I had a few problems that kept this film from being truly marvelous, but I’ll start off with Redford’s character. The fault of knowing little about a character in most movies causes us to be unconcerned with what happens to them, however that’s not the case here. Redford is able to bring out sense of humanity, which is important for us to even care about him. Our Man is highly composed throughout the film; he only speaks in the introduction of the film through a letter, and a few words shouted in the latter stages of the film.

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What I admire about this film is that the Writer/Director J.C. Chandor respects the intelligence of the audience by not spelling everything out. A brilliant sequence is when Our Man’s water is infected by the salt water from the ocean. He pours the water out, cuts open the container and places a empty can inside. Lastly he places a plastic covering over the top and lets the sun play it’s part. Nevertheless Our Man creates a small supply of water through the powers of condensation. I could only imagine how unnecessary it would have been if the director had Our Man explain to us what he was going to do, by talking to himself.

A massive problem for the first hour of this film for me was the editing. One of the first things we learned in film class during the editing portion was that jump cuts can be effective if used properly and sparingly for the benefit of a film. This film is full of jump cuts and awkward cuts which left me baffled as to why it was used. This is a problem because it makes me fully aware that i’m watching a film and it doesn’t try to hide these horrific cuts. Essentially I felt like I was watching Redford look around at a camera crew during some scenes. The moments where this film let it run in normal time for a few moments were the best parts. I was able to embrace everything that was going on; something that was difficult when the jump cuts were being imposed.

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The film was able to earn an Academy Award nomination in sound editing. For a film that has no talking, sound is a very important thing. From the beginning of the film I was able to notice these strikingly detailed sounds. It was able to produce tense moments and beautiful moments while we watch some solid cinematography take place. The score was beautiful and was used exquisitely throughout the film.

All Is Lost is a great film that was clearly overshadowed by a similar film that takes place in space called Gravity upon it’s release. If this film was edited differently I believe that would have made a massive difference, because everything else about this film is quality. As time goes by I’m sure more viewers will come back to this film give praise towards the film-making, the ending, and Redford’s performance.

Rating: ★★★ / ★★★★★

Dir. J.C Chandor
Won NYFCC – Best Actor
Won Golden Globe – Best Score
Nominated Academy Award – Sound Editing
Nominated Golden Globe – Best Actor

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 “All is lost here… except for soul and body… that is, what’s left of them… and a half-day’s ration.”

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