Remember the ad where the courier guys await Columbus in America with a package
addressed to him? That says something about the brash confidence of these companies
in delivering your package anywhere, anytime. So, imagine the professional embarrassment
that FedEx employee Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) has to endure when he is washed ashore
an island with no address, with no clue for anyone to trace him. He, now, is a
package that has to be delivered back to civilization, and who better than a FedEx
agent (himself) to deliver it.
Gladly, the movie is not as shallow as that. As much a critique of the trappings
of civilization as a celebration of the spirit of man, Cast Away presents Tom
Hanks to us in all the dotty glory of Forrest Gump. Indeed, the Hanks-Zemeckis
pairing looks to epitomize the single-minded resolve that looks to have been the
mantra of the corporates in the '90s. But each time Zemeckis has taken the issue
out of the bounds of the conventional. If in Forrest Gump it was a mentally challenged
Forrest, then here it is a yuppie that has been thrown back into a scene that
seems to be out of the Stone Age, with himself being its first denizen.
We are taken through the initial travails of Chuck as his resourcefulness is brought
to the fore. But more than once, the desperation, the out-of-range feeling shows
through. When he first screams for help, even his words seem to have no meaning.
Need for communication drives him to make a face out of a football and speak to
it. Then there are moments of 'discovery' and exultation, like when he makes fire,
and then the mundane creeps in when, years later, even fishing with a spear becomes
Then, when he finally makes it back to Memphis, there is a sudden change of scene and where he would have been noticed by family and friends, he has to contend with the awe of the world. And there is his sweetheart, Kelly Frears (Helen Hunt), who couldn't wait for a 'dead' man.
The movie has only two things about it that make it a masterpiece - Tom Hanks' performance, and the overall concept itself. Here is an instance where you have a movie for a star, but the star himself doesn't precede the character. Instead, Hanks allows the character to overtake him. There is a thin line between the two and most of Hollywood is still on the wrong side of the line. If something's to be said for Indian movies on the issue, then it's that they are too far away from it to ever know it.
Finally, one wonders how many from our 'Survivor' era have a spirit that has not
been blunted by modern tools and one that would help us survive such a situation.
We never know till we do.