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Heroes of the Zeroes: Cast Away

by on February 24, 2010
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Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films from 2000 to 2009.

“Cast Away”
Rated PG-13
2000

Often labeled as sentimental, Robert Zemeckis sure focuses on sinister, but not sadistic, elements. Among the cultural touchstones with which Forrest Gump intersected, one took his love from him. In “Contact,” Eleanor Arroway’s greatest discovery required her to face someone she’d painfully lost.

2000’s “Cast Away” didn’t merely concern a marooned man’s perseverance of spirit. It addressed the idea that time waits for no one, especially someone so arrogant to believe he can master, not merely keep, it.

After surviving a catastrophic plane crash hundreds of miles off course, FedEx guru Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) is stranded on an island with only random packages and a memento of his fiancée (Helen Hunt).

Justly nominated for an Oscar, Hanks displays a feral, but ingratiating, primal instinct. Zemeckis never depicts any search, making us a constant party to Chuck’s pain, isolation, insanity and, ultimately, initiative. For development of the last two, credit The Zeroes’ most developed inanimate character — “Wilson,” a volleyball to which Chuck speaks and through which he maintains resourcefulness.

As melancholy as it is affirming, “Cast Away” tells a darkly comic, occasionally punishing parable about what happens when humans lose sight of humility in life’s grand scheme — an interesting thematic twin to Hanks’ own “Joe vs. the Volcano.”

Chuck’s brave journey into the heart of, and back from, seemingly inconsolable desperation heightened drama even in “Cast Away’s” landlocked finale. Poetic and contemplative, it showed serenity in not agonizing over what we can’t control and living a life accessible to spontaneity.

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