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Cast Away

Director: Robert Zemeckiss
Starring: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt,
et al.
Length: 143 minutes
Rated: Not Rated
Studio: Twentieth Century Fox

This powerful movie challenges the role of time and work in our society, and seems to suggest that because so many of us are caught in working, working, working, what we have “cast away” are meaningful relationships, time together with people we love, time to reflect on what is important, and, in so doing, our souls.

Tom Hanks plays Chuck Noland, a FedEx systems expert, who flies all over the world to make sure that the FedEx deliveries are “on time.”  Noland is maniacal about this and gives rousing speeches to employees, warning them never to “turn their backs on time.” Well, as Noland finds himself running to catch yet another plane, this time during Christmas, he quickly gives his girlfriend Kelly (Helen Hunt) her gifts (one is a ring box, a hint of how he feels about her) in the car, and runs out to troubleshoot in the Far East. Kelly gives him a pocket watch complete with her picture on the inside.

Noland’s plane goes down, and he is washed up on an island, where time stretches out interminably, and he has to come to grips with the fact that it’s up to him to find food, water, and shelter, and make a fire. With few tools save those that wash up in FedEx boxes, Noland learns to do all he needs to stay alive. The pocket watch and picture survive the crash, and his ability to look at Kelly keeps him hopeful. In one box is a soccer ball on which he paints a face with his own blood, and dubs the ball “Wilson” – Wilson becomes Noland’s companion, listener, and confidant. After four years on the island, Noland becomes aware of his new relationship with time and decides out of pure determination and hope to make his escape aboard a handmade life raft, hopeful that he will be saved.

I won’t reveal the rest. Suffice it to say that the time alone on the island relieved Noland of any illusions of control he had over his life, and with this experience, he is able to face the future not knowing what will come next. 

The story in this movie is meant to drive home a few points, some of which we as coaches help others to deal with.  One, control is an illusion – in a metaphorical sense, your plane can go down any day; two, relationships sustain us – and we ought to recognize that and nurture those people we love; three, hope keeps us alive – without it, the world looks dark; and four, our choices create our reality.  Hanks is superb as the lone survivor of the crash, and, notwithstanding the strength of the messages in the film, it’s worth watching for the excellence he shows in engaging with his character.

Reflections based on “Cast Away”

1. Take a look at what you are spending your time on.  Are you casting away what you say is important to you?

2. Take a look at how you see life.  To what extent does hope play a part?

3. Think of one person that you care deeply for. Have you let that person know how important they are to you lately? 






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