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Discussion Starter #1
I saw All is Lost over the weekend, and I like it. Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but I started thinking that some of the criticisms may have been part of the back story. Take a fairly successful businessman, with a healthy ego and lots of self confidence. He retires and is bored. He bought his Cal new back in '79 and has been a fair weather weekend sailor, but reading all kinds of sailing books and magazines. He decides to sail solo around the world. He has 30+ plus years of sailing experience, but doesn't realize that its all near shore nice weather experience. He has maintained the boat by calling the yard and telling them to fix things, but he thinks of it as maintaining his boat. He has managed large companies therefore a 39 foot sailboat is a piece of cake. His wife and children are against the idea, but he ignores them. The get him a very nice sextant for a birthday present, but he never actually opens it or learns to use it. He read the book, or at least started to. He stops at West Marine and buys the gear they recommend. He's watched that fishing show on TV, so he gets Grundens foulies because they are "professional". He knows his Rolex will tempt the "natives" so he leaves it home and gets a Seiko diver's watch. He knows about fiberglass repair, but he has never done it. He is sorry, they were right. His pride is that he never gives up, not that he made the right choices or that he handled tough situations. If you look at it that way, the name brands are not just product placement. Wasn't there a picture of that adjustable wrench with the sinnet lanyard in Brion Toss' book? What else would you take up the mast? We all see ourselves as good competent sailors, who would never make such foolish errors, but I for one have done some pretty brainless things. I have learned to live within my limitations, at least that's my view of myself. I know guys like that, I may be one myself. And yes there is a copy of Mary Blewett's book on my shelf, even though I have never been far enough off shore to get away from all the light pollution. Just a thought.
Lou
 

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lillia, you may have just saved that movie for me. In the context you have presented I think it all makes sense. Perhaps worthy of viewing the movie with a hint of self-reflection.
 

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Most sailing movies end in disaster. I saw the film 2 days ago and found myself second guessing all Redfords decisions, but agreeing with many of them. I'm a day sailor on an inland lake, but still have an opinion. Would a sea anchor really pull that container away if they are drifting in the same direction. I first thought of using a winch. I thought he gave up too easily on fishing. Also, if you are going to have a disaster, how about a bit of joy before all goes wrong. I see myself in his place, but drowning a lot sooner. Hey, but no story there.
 

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I saw All is Lost over the weekend, and I like it. Perhaps I am reading too much into it, but I started thinking that some of the criticisms may have been part of the back story. Take a fairly successful businessman, with a healthy ego and lots of self confidence. He retires and is bored. He bought his Cal new back in '79 and has been a fair weather weekend sailor, but reading all kinds of sailing books and magazines. He decides to sail solo around the world. He has 30+ plus years of sailing experience, but doesn't realize that its all near shore nice weather experience. He has maintained the boat by calling the yard and telling them to fix things, but he thinks of it as maintaining his boat. He has managed large companies therefore a 39 foot sailboat is a piece of cake. His wife and children are against the idea, but he ignores them. The get him a very nice sextant for a birthday present, but he never actually opens it or learns to use it. He read the book, or at least started to. He stops at West Marine and buys the gear they recommend. He's watched that fishing show on TV, so he gets Grundens foulies because they are "professional". He knows his Rolex will tempt the "natives" so he leaves it home and gets a Seiko diver's watch. He knows about fiberglass repair, but he has never done it. He is sorry, they were right. His pride is that he never gives up, not that he made the right choices or that he handled tough situations. If you look at it that way, the name brands are not just product placement. Wasn't there a picture of that adjustable wrench with the sinnet lanyard in Brion Toss' book? What else would you take up the mast? We all see ourselves as good competent sailors, who would never make such foolish errors, but I for one have done some pretty brainless things. I have learned to live within my limitations, at least that's my view of myself. I know guys like that, I may be one myself. And yes there is a copy of Mary Blewett's book on my shelf, even though I have never been far enough off shore to get away from all the light pollution. Just a thought.
Lou
I don't make films but I imagine with all the stuff that gets edited out, the stuff that gets left in, gets left in for a reason. I'm sure there were plenty of people on the set that realized that an adjustable wrench was either unnecessary or the entirely the wrong tool.

But, having Redford pull a wrench out of a tool bag while perched precariously on top of a tall mast that he had just pulled himself up… well, it projects a different image than had he simply reconnected and tightened the antenna cable with his fingers. Frankly I didn't even catch the error.

And the back story you provided is one of but many possibilities. There is no right answer. The letter that's read in the beginning is very short and intentionally vague. He apologies for something but we don't know what.

Even the end is not clear at all. Audiences were tested. Half walked away thinking he died while about half thought he lived. That's what the writer wanted.

The movie merely provides a framework, the audience has to fill in the blanks.

Oh, and thank you for pointing out that capable people make mistakes and sometimes do stupid stuff. Watch any pro football game for countless examples.

I for one was dumfounded that he chose to ram his boat onto a shipping container that had managed to put a hole in the hull just a short time earlier. Was that smart? Or was he just mad at it?
 

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I really liked the movie. I like movies that make me think. I agree with Lillia28. Discovering the back story is really fun to do. After a couple of the unrealistic things that occur earlier in the movie, I checked myself from whispering NOOO!! in my wife's ear, and decided to just let that part go.

If you don't, you will drive yourself crazy.

SPOILER AHEAD
So.. did you notice that when he opened the sextant, there was a card inside? And he didn't read it? How come? My speculation is that the sextant was a gift from family, as described above, and that he didn't want to be reminded that he had messed up and not even learned how to use such a valuable gift.. He was ashamed.

Interestingly to me, is that when my father left on his circumnavigation in the late 1980s, he didn't want to bother with a sextant. So we bought him one. He never learned to use it.

SPOILER ENDING

The movie is full of wonderful things. But you have to reach for them, and not let the inaccuracies drive you crazy. Besides, it's less of an issue when he's in the life raft
 

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So.. did you notice that when he opened the sextant, there was a card inside? And he didn't read it? How come? My speculation is that the sextant was a gift from family, as described above, and that he didn't want to be reminded that he had messed up and not even learned how to use such a valuable gift.. He was ashamed.

Interestingly to me, is that when my father left on his circumnavigation in the late 1980s, he didn't want to bother with a sextant. So we bought him one. He never learned to use it.
I think that's one of those moments where the writer wants you do fill in your own explanation. Perhaps the gift was from somebody he didn't really like or had a strained relationship with. Maybe he was just one of those people who placed little value on relationships throughout his life until he was at death's door, which wasn't quite yet at this point in the movie.

In a typical movie, you would have been shown who the card was from and the contents. This was not a typical movie.
 

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When I turtled my 17'er I was prepared to right a capsize, but hadn't read the next page about turtling. It turned out to be a 2 person job anyway and I was solo. I scrambled after what was left of the manual as it floated away. Dead Calm is a good time to bone up on yer sailing skills :cool: (not to mention another sailing disaster movie).
 

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right a hobie solo and that is a true test!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
And the back story you provided is one of but many possibilities. There is no right answer. The letter that's read in the beginning is very short and intentionally vague. He apologies for something but we don't know what.

That's what the writer wanted.

The movie merely provides a framework, the audience has to fill in the blanks.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------Possible spoilers
Exactly. I provided the back story that appeals to me, and fills in the blanks for me. I posted here to get others thoughts, not to act as a film studies professor. Thanks for the kind and thoughtful comments.
On other threads the movie has been trashed for mistakes. I'm not so sure they are mistakes. A writer, director and to a lesser extent an editor have enormous latitude on what they write and film and the scenes they put in the movie. Robert Culp one said about his under rated "Hickey & Boggs" that a director fills a scene with many details, each one imparts important information that is needed for the story. I prefer to believe that some details are important, not mistakes.
That being said I still cannot reconcile the the steering and the number of flares. I am guessing the cockpit was cut from one of the boats, and Redford's wheel was attached to nothing for filming. Redford admits he is not a sailor, the steering wheel keeps spinning, so he keeps spinning it. The flares? A question of time I guess, how many unseen flares can you fire before the audience get up to leave?
Lou
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I really liked the movie. I like movies that make me think. I agree with Lillia28. Discovering the back story is really fun to do. After a couple of the unrealistic things that occur earlier in the movie, I checked myself from whispering NOOO!! in my wife's ear, and decided to just let that part go.

If you don't, you will drive yourself crazy.

SPOILER AHEAD
So.. did you notice that when he opened the sextant, there was a card inside? And he didn't read it? How come? My speculation is that the sextant was a gift from family, as described above, and that he didn't want to be reminded that he had messed up and not even learned how to use such a valuable gift.. He was ashamed.

Interestingly to me, is that when my father left on his circumnavigation in the late 1980s, he didn't want to bother with a sextant. So we bought him one. He never learned to use it.

SPOILER ENDING

The movie is full of wonderful things. But you have to reach for them, and not let the inaccuracies drive you crazy. Besides, it's less of an issue when he's in the life raft
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

I started wondering if it was a birthday present, a Christmas present or a going away present, but then I slapped my self. The way he tosses the card aside after the briefest hesitation says volumes, at least to me! I hope your Dad's circumnavigation went better than Our Man's!
Lou
 

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--------------------------------------------------------------------------

I hope your Dad's circumnavigation went better than Our Man's!
Lou
It certainly did. He completed it in 12 years, and he's alive and well!
 

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reading back through this, I have to agree with the OP. Many people in a position of authority seem to take that attitude with them throughout life. Wether in driving, sailing, or flying.

Many many doctors lost their lives flying. The Beachcraft Bonanza earned the nickname "Split tailed doctor killer" for a reason
 

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It is a movie, it's value is partly what you bring, and the entertainment you experience, and like art what you gain while viewing.
 

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I liked Lou's backstory - it was fairly close to what I had in my mind also, which meant I enjoyed the film. The only thing which niggles me was the lack of an EPIRB - but if he had one it would not have been much of a story! And I agree with the others - I didn't see errors, so much as dumb mistakes anybody could make - like the wrench to tighten a thumb-tightened antenna connection. Perhaps a bit spurious, but you have to fit a shot from the mast in somehow, don't you!

One thing I liked - which I know the directors strove for - was the condition of the boat. Maintained, but slightly run down - little things like holes in the mast where a cleat cleat to be added hugely to the reality for me - a seaworth boaty, but not new.

As I recall they bought at least 3 boats for the filming, and one indeed was cut up to get the camera into the right places.
 
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