Ever get stuck in life? and no I am not talking about Candy Crush. Have you ever got really stuck in life? with no way to contact the outside world? This week we celebrate the courage of filmmakers who try to tell a story which takes place mostly in one location place with just a few characters. This month we see 2 films with these characteristics - “Gravity” & “All Is Lost” (out this weekend). This gives us the chance to go over some of the best movies/TV shows with isolated heroes who got stuck in the same place for a very long time. So if you’re stuck somewhere, you probably don’t have anything better to do so read on…
All Is Lost (2013)
Who got isolated? A resourceful sailor.
Where? Middle of the ocean.
Why? A collision with a shipping container.
If you look at the actors credits of “All is Lost” you see just one name – Robert Redford. This new film might be the most courageous attempt on our list – with only one hero and almost no dialogue the film tries (and according to most reviews, succeeds) to keep you at the edge of your seat. The film focuses on the survival attempts of a sailor who’s boat got damaged in an accident. As his boat starts sinking he tries to find a way back to dry land though the sea holds many perils. Is he strong enough to face them and the loneliness around him?
Well, maybe if he’ll shout loud enough he can call the two astronauts who got stuck 372 miles above him.
Who got isolated? a medical engineer and an astronaut.
Where? Outer space.
Why? An unfortunate accident.
One of a select few films that manage to enjoy an astounding critical and b/o success with only two actors. The film depicts the attempts of two astronauts who got lost in space with no way to contact earth. Now, I concede that most men wouldn’t mind getting stuck with Sandra Bullock and most women would pay to get stuck with George Clooney but when the oxygen runs out you’d probably want to get back home a.s.a.p. Gravity already has Oscar buzz circling it and it seems that outer space will be mentioned a lot during the upcoming awards season.
Red Dwarf (1988 – )
This cult futuristic sitcom tells about the least expected vestiges of humanity - a spacecraft’s odd crew, as they stumble upon mysterious planets, evil aliens and endless paranormal activities. Most of the show takes place in their spacecraft (”Red Dwarf”)with only this 4.5 characters. Filled with gags and mishaps, Red Dwarf is a great place to get stuck in.
As long as we mentioned paranormal activities, there’s this dude, Stephen King…
The Mist (2007)
Who got isolated? Father and son, A religious fanatic woman and other several unfortunate clients.
Where? Grocery store.
Why? a mysterious mist.
Stephen King is a master at isolating his characters and creating a tense world in the smallest locations - in this case, a grocery store. After a thunderstorm hits his home, a father (Thomas Jane) heads to the local store with his son in order to buy some supplies. Shortly after he gets there, a mysterious mist wraps the store and those who try to leave gets torn to pieces by deadly creatures who hide inside the mist. Confined inside the store, chaos and mayhem rises between the survivals and human nature stands to the test.
Now, those who follow King’s work know he likes to torture small towns and here’s another example…
Under The Dome (2013 – )
Who got isolated? The residents of a small town.
Where? A Small Town.
Why? God only knows.
This critically acclaimed series was one of last year’s most talked-about shows. Surreal and filled with twist and turns, the show focuses on a small town who gets isolated from the world by a mysterious transparent dome. Trapped inside they try to figure out ways to escape and how and why the dome appeared. Another one of King’s creations, this mind bending and suspenseful show is recommended for anyone who’s ever been inside a dome or just intrigued by the idea.
Sometimes, when King doesn’t like his book adaptations he just rewrites them like in…
Stephen King’s The Shining (1997)
Who got isolated? A family (and several ghosts).
Where? in a secluded hotel.
Why? Work requirements.
King never liked Stanley Kubrick’s version and so he decided to write the script for this 3 part mini series. As you can see in the picture above the insanity element is dominant in this version as well. We follow a couple of parents and their psychic young kid who move to an isolated hotel for the winter in order to watch over it. As the father, a recovering alcoholic, tries to write his way back to sobriety, he suddenly starts seeing ghosts around the hotel (which is a known side effect of alcoholism). And ghosts usually lead you to dark places…
But let’s lay off the ghosts (and Mr. King), it’s time to deal with the…
Who got isolated? A group of strangers (plus the devil).
Where? In an elevator.
Why? The devil works in mysterious ways…
Next time you walk into an elevator look at the people around you, does anyone of them have red horns and a pointy tail? Take the stairs. In this horror film that takes place mostly in an elevator, the viewers are constantly guessing what in the devil the devil is about to do next and more importantly, who he/she is ? based on M. Night Shyamalan’s idea, this film might make you a bit scared of small places but it’s worth it.
And if you prefer being isolated in the great outdoors, how’s a luxurious island?
Cast Away (2000)
Who got isolated? a FedEx worker and a friendly volley ball.
Where? On an island.
Why? Plane crash.
Poor Tom Hanks, Just this week his ship got kidnapped in “Captain Phillips” so if that’s not enough it seems he doesn’t have too much luck with airplanes either. Stick to Cars Mr. Hanks! This award winner drama is (almost) a one man show, and when it’s Mr. Hanks you want to see the show. Hanks portrays Chuck Noland who gets isolated on an island after an air disaster. Lost, desperate and lonely, Noland must find the will and determination to survive.
An island as we all know is surrounded by water, and what wouldn’t Matt Damon give for some water in…
Who got isolated? Two friends.
Where? In the desert.
Why? No map.
Two friends named Gerry went on a hiking trip in the desert. So far so good. But when they get lost and with no water or food in sight, that’s when their friendship will be put to the test. Based on a true story, Gerry is a minimalist independent movie with just two actors (Damon and Casey Affleck) and haunting atmosphere.
And if you think surviving in the desert is hard, try surviving in the snow…
Who got isolated? Three Skiers.
Where? In the freezing wilderness.
Why? Someone turned off the chairlift while they’re on it…
Three buddies go on a ski lift with every intention of coming down from it but an unfortunate incident leaves them high and not so dry. With the forces of nature threatening them from above and dangerous animals scares them from bellow, we get a psychological thriller that’s sure to keep you on the edge of your chairlift.
And after reading this list, the only logical thing to do is to get isolated in front of your TV and keep all the characters above some company. Enjoy!
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