All Is Lost
All Is Lost is a 2013 survival drama film written and directed by J. C. Chandor. The film stars Robert Redford as a man lost at sea. Redford is the only cast member, and the film has 51 spoken English words. All Is Lost is Chandor's second feature film, following his 2011 debut Margin Call. It screened out of competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
|All Is Lost|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||J. C. Chandor|
|Written by||J. C. Chandor|
|Music by||Alex Ebert|
|Cinematography||Frank G. DeMarco|
|Edited by||Pete Beaudreau|
|Box office||$13.6 million|
The title of the film is a nod to E. W. Hornung's observation that when courage is lost, "all is lost".
Among many honors, the film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Sound Editing (Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns) and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score (Alex Ebert). Redford was nominated for his own Golden Globe and won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor.
The film begins with a flash-forward eight days hence, in which the protagonist narrates a letter addressing people he will miss, as the camera pans across a lost shipping container.
In the Indian Ocean, a man (Robert Redford) wakes to find water flooding his boat. He has collided with a wayward shipping container, ripping a hole in the hull. He uses a sea anchor to dislodge the container, then changes course to tilt the boat away from the hole. He patches the hole and uses the manual bilge pump to remove the water from the cabin. The boat's navigational and communications systems have been damaged by saltwater intrusion. The man tries to repair the marine radio and connects it to one of the boat's batteries. When he climbs the mast to repair an antenna lead, he sees an oncoming tropical storm.
When the storm arrives, the man runs before the wind. He intends to heave to, but as he crawls to the bow to hoist the storm jib, he is thrown overboard and regains the deck after a struggle. The boat capsizes and rights itself; during a second roll, which throws the man overboard again, the boat is dis-masted and most of the equipment is destroyed. After going below deck and being knocked out by colliding with a post, he regains consciousness to find the boat sinking, so he abandons ship in an inflatable life raft. When the storm is past, he salvages whatever he can from his sinking boat and transfers it to the raft. Before the boat sinks, he tends to the gash on his forehead.
As the man learns to operate a sextant, he discovers he is being pulled towards a major shipping lane by ocean currents. He survives another storm but his supplies dwindle, and he learns too late that his drinking water has been contaminated with sea water. He improvises a solar still from his water container, a plastic bag, and an aluminum can, producing fresh water, and he snags a fish, but it is snapped up by a shark before he can reel it in.
The man is passed by two container ships, which do not see him despite his use of signaling flares. He drifts out of the shipping lane with no food or water. On the eighth day, he writes a letter, puts it in a jar, and throws it in the ocean as a message in a bottle. Later that night, he sees a light in the distance. He tears pages from his journal along with charts to create a signal fire. The fire grows out of control and consumes his raft. He falls into the water and allows himself to sink. Underwater, he sees the hull of a boat with a search light approaching his burning raft. He swims towards the surface to grasp an outstretched hand.
All Is Lost was written and directed by J. C. Chandor, his second feature film, following 2011's Margin Call. During his time commuting from Providence, Rhode Island to New York City, Chandor developed the idea for All Is Lost. After meeting Robert Redford at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival where Margin Call premiered, Chandor asked the veteran actor to be in the film. On February 9, 2012, Redford's casting was confirmed for All Is Lost as its only cast member. In addition to there being only one actor in the film, Redford also stated that the film has no dialogue, although there are a few spoken lines. For these reasons, the shooting script was only 31 pages long.
Principal photography began in mid-2012 at Baja Studios in Rosarito Beach in Mexico. Baja Studios was originally built for the 1997 film Titanic. Filming took place for two months in the location's water tank. In addition the crew spent "two or three days" filming in the actual ocean. Chandor would later remark that completing the film was "essentially a jigsaw puzzle" and that the crew spent less time on the actual ocean than the film would have viewers believe. At a press conference after the film's screening at Cannes 2013, Redford revealed that his ear was damaged during the production.
The film score to All Is Lost is composed by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' frontman Alex Ebert, who signed on to the film in November 2012. Speaking of the experience of working on the film, Ebert said, "This project was a dream—an open space to play in but also space to listen to the elements—wind, water, rain, sun, are the story's other characters to me. I knew I had quite a task ahead of me: to at once allow the elements to sing and to give Redford a voice with which to, once in a while, respond." The "extra features" of the Blu-ray Disc explain the unique development of the sound track, music, script and other production considerations.
A soundtrack album featuring ten original compositions and one new song all written, composed, and produced by Ebert was released on October 1, 2013 by Community Music. On September 12, 2013, the song "Amen" from the soundtrack was made available for streaming.
All Is Lost screened out of competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival on May 22. The film was distributed theatrically by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions jointly in the United States. FilmNation Entertainment handled foreign sales for the film. In February 2012, Universal Pictures purchased distribution of the film for the UK, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, South Korea, Russia and Scandinavia. Other deals were made with HGC in China, Square One Entertainment in Germany, Sun Distribution in Latin America, Paris Filmes in Brazil, Audio Visual Entertainment in Greece and Pony Canyon in Japan. It began a limited release in the United States on October 18, 2013.
Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 94% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 238 reviews; the average rating is 8.00/10. The site's consensus states: "Anchored by another tremendous performance in a career full of them, All Is Lost offers a moving, eminently worthwhile testament to Robert Redford's ability to hold the screen." On Metacritic the film has a score of 87 based on 45 reviews, considered to be "universal acclaim".
After the screening of the film at the Cannes Film Festival, Redford received a standing ovation. Writing for The Independent, Geoffrey Macnab said the film was "utterly compelling viewing". Andrew Pulver, writing for The Guardian, said that "Redford delivers a tour de force performance: holding the screen effortlessly with no acting support whatsoever." Justin Chang of Variety said of Redford's performance that he "holds the viewer's attention merely by wincing, scowling, troubleshooting and yelling the occasional expletive". Robbie Collin of The Telegraph said, "The film's scope is limited, but as far as it goes, All Is Lost is very good indeed: a neat idea, very nimbly executed."
Conveying Peter Bradshaw's review, The Guardian said, "Redford's near-mute performance as a mysterious old man of the sea adrift and utterly alone makes for a bold, gripping thriller." Having spotted a possible metaphor, Bradshaw concludes: "What a strikingly bold and thoughtful film." Alan Scherstuhl of The Village Voice writes that the film is "a genuine nail-biter, scrupulously made and fully involving, elemental in its simplicity." David Morgan of CBS News gave the film a positive review, stating, "Four decades ago Redford demonstrated a similar capacity for survival skills as the mountain man Jeremiah Johnson. Today, at age 77, without a supporting cast and performing virtually all of his water stunts himself, Redford proves he is still up to the task, shining in what is an extremely physical but also an intellectually demanding role."
However, the film has been criticized in the sailing world for being unrealistic, in particular for the lack of certain safety equipment deemed standard for sailboats navigating the open ocean such as an EPIRB, and other bad decisions of the main character. An exception to this criticism is English Yachting Monthly, for which Dick Durham claimed: "Certainly the film is authentic and grippingly realistic." Director Chandor himself, who says he went sailing with his parents when young and later a few times as an adult, stated in an interview with German sailing magazine Segeln that everything that happened in the film could have happened in reality. His only reservations were the probability of crossing the Indian Ocean single-handed and of not evading the storm with modern technology and due attention.
Top ten lists
- 2nd – Robert Horton, Seattle Weekly
- 3rd – Genevieve Koski, The Dissolve
- 3rd – Steve Davis, Austin Chronicle
- 3rd – Ty Burr, The Boston Globe
- 3rd – Mark Savlov, Austin Chronicle
- 4th – Lou Lumenick, New York Post
- 5th – Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post
- 5th – Mark Mohan, The Oregonian
- 5th – Alonso Duralde, TheWrap
- 5th – Brian Miller, Seattle Weekly
- 6th – Stephen Schaefer, Boston Herald
- 6th – Rex Reed, The New York Observer
- 6th – Marjorie Baumgarten, Austin Chronicle
- 6th – Mike D'Angelo, The A.V. Club
- 6th – Noel Murray, The Dissolve
- 6th – Barbara Vancheri, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- 6th – Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York
- 6th – A.O. Scott, The New York Times
- 7th – David Edelstein, Vulture
- 7th – Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter
- 7th – Keith Phipps, The Dissolve
- 7th – Sasha Stone, Awards Daily
- 7th – Christopher Orr, The Atlantic
- 7th – Kristopher Tapley, HitFix
- 8th – Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
- 9th – Lisa Schwarzbaum, BBC
- 9th – Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly
- 9th – Elizabeth Weitzman, New York Daily News
- Top 10 (listed alphabetically, not ranked) – David Denby, The New Yorker
- Top 10 (listed alphabetically, not ranked) – James Verniere, Boston Herald
- Top 10 (listed alphabetically, not ranked) – Claudia Puig, USA Today
- Top 10 (listed alphabetically, not ranked) – Stephen Whitty, The Star-Ledger
- Top 10 (listed alphabetically, not ranked) – Steven Rea, The Philadelphia Inquirer
|Award||Category||Recipients and nominees||Result|
|AARP Annual Movies for Grownups Awards||Judge's Award for Extraordinary Merit||All is Lost||Won|
|86th Academy Awards||Best Sound Editing||Steve Boeddeker, Richard Hymns||Nominated|
|Chicago Film Critics Association||Best Actor||Robert Redford||Nominated|
|Critics' Choice Movie Awards||Best Actor||Nominated|
|Detroit Film Critics Society||Best Actor||Nominated|
|2013 Deauville American Film Festival||Prix du Jury (Jury Special Prize)||J. C. Chandor||Won|
|71st Golden Globe Awards||Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama||Robert Redford||Nominated|
|Best Original Score||Alex Ebert||Won|
|Gotham Awards||Best Actor||Robert Redford||Nominated|
|Independent Spirit Awards||Best Feature||Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb, J. C. Chandor||Nominated|
|Best Director||J. C. Chandor||Nominated|
|Best Male Lead||Robert Redford||Nominated|
|Best Cinematography||Frank G. DeMarco||Nominated|
|Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards||Best Sound Editing: Sound Effects & Foley in a Feature Film||Richard Hymns, Steve Boeddeker||Nominated|
|New York Film Critics Circle||Best Actor||Robert Redford||Won|
|Phoenix Film Critics Society||Best Actor in a Leading Role||Nominated|
|San Francisco Film Critics Circle||Best Actor||Nominated|
|Best Editing||Pete Beaudreau||Nominated|
|Satellite Awards||Best Motion Picture||Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb, J. C. Chandor||Nominated|
|Best Actor – Motion Picture||Robert Redford||Nominated|
|Best Sound (Editing and Mixing)||Brandon Proctor, Richard Hymns, Steve Boeddeker||Nominated|
|Best Visual Effects||Brendon O'Dell, Collin Davies, Robert Munroe||Nominated|
|Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association||Best Actor||Robert Redford||Nominated|
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