Survival movies are finally a thing, thanks to Vikramaditya Motwane’s Trapped. A genre where a person or a group battle extreme circumstances to remain alive. Some of these are based on real life survival stories, while some are pure figment of the imagination. However, in both cases they make for riveting stories, which generally boast of excellent acting and direction.
Here are 16 movies which epitomise the rawness of human spirit, and celebrate the desire to live.
1. 127 Hours (2010)
An adventure enthusiast gets trapped by a boulder in an obscure spot in Grand Canyon.
Danny Boyle’s Oscar-nominated movie was based on the book of adventure-enthusiast Aron Ralston, who gets trapped by a boulder in the middle of Grand Canyon. Starring a committed performance by James Franco and a brilliant soundtrack comprising of AR Rahman, Billy Joel and Sigur Ros made the movie a marvellous experience.
2. Cast Away (2000)
FedEx employee gets marooned on an island, after the cargo plane crashes into the sea.
Robert Zemeckis’s modern take on Robinson Crusoe, features a punctual FedEx employee Chuck Noland (played by Tom Hanks), who gets marooned on an uninhabited island. Finding a use for everything from the retrieved cargo, Chuck survives on the island by himself and makes various attempts to escape.
3. The Grey (2011)
Six oil workers are left to survive the crazy Alaska weather after a plane crash, while a pack of merciless wolves haunts them.
Standing out among the cast, Liam Neeson, plays one of the oilmen who get stranded in the midst of remote Alaska after their plane crashes. Battling tough weather conditions and trying to survive on limited food and water, the group is tracked by a herd of wolves. What follows is the ultimate battle for survival for these six men.
4. All Is Lost (2013)
After a collision with a shipping container at sea, a resourceful sailor finds himself staring mortality in the face.
The veteran Robert Redford plays the role of a man stranded in a boat in the middle of Indian Ocean. Trying to navigate his way in the ‘right direction’ the man patches the many holes in his boat trying to stay afloat. The movie has barely any dialogue, and depends solely on the leading man’s actions to drive the story forward. Redford is the only actor listed in the credits scene.
5. Gravity (2013)
Two astronauts work together to survive after an accident which leaves them alone in space.
Alfonso Cuaron intended on telling the very simple story of the triumph of human spirit, when faced with overwhelming odds. As a consultant astronaut, Bullock is faced with certain death when outer-space debris collides with her space station, and she desperately tries to find her way back home.
6. The Revenant (2015)
An explorer fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team.
Following his Oscar win with the urban Birdman, director Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu made his way to pre-colonial era in Alaska when explorer Hugh Glass is left for dead after he gets attacked by a bear. The rest of the story follows Glass, as he battles harsh weather and freezing winds to track the men who abandoned him.
7. I Am Legend (2007)
After a virus kills humanity, the last man in New York City struggles to find a cure.
The last man on earth is Will Smith, as he plays golf in front of the Brooklyn bridge, waltzes into stores and picks up his supplies and sends out repeated messages for anyone else out there. He does this in broad daylight. The rest of the humanity has been infected by a biological virus. Smith is their last hope for a cure, and they don’t even know it.
8. Buried (2010)
A man wakes up to find he’s buried in a coffin. With limited resources, he needs to figure out his way out of the death-trap.
Taking place within the confines of a coffin, the movie sees Ryan Reynolds using the limited resources at his disposal to try and ask for help. The things include a pencil, a torch, a blackberry and a lighter. The leading man must beg, scream, keep his cool and do everything to aid those trying to find him, and there isn’t much time since he’s literally running out of breath.
9. Life Of Pi (2012)
A boy will have to survive his journey across the ocean and he has a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a Royal Bengal tiger for company.
Based on the Yann Martel’s worldwide bestseller, Ang Lee did the unthinkable by adapting this story of a boy stranded with a zebra, an orangutan, a hyena and a Royal Bengal tiger on a lifeboat following a shipwreck. Suraj Sharma became a household name after the release of the 3D film, which was hailed as an exponent of technical marvel.
10. The Way Back (2010)
During WW II, 4 Siberian gulag escapees travel 4,000 miles by foot to freedom in India.
Having an all-star cast including actors like Colin Farrell, Ed Harris and Jim Sturgess, the movie follows the real life account of this bunch of World War II P.O.Ws as they walk 4000 miles to their own freedom. It is based on the memoir The Long Walk by Polish prisoner Slawomir Rawicz, who escaped Gulag and walked all the way to British India.
11. Touching The Void (2003)
True story of two climbers and their perilous journey up the Peruvian Andes in 1985.
Way before Kevin MacDonald made his debut with The Last King of Scotland, he made this riveting tale of two British mountaineers (Joe and Simon) as they try to climb the Peruvian Andes. It chronicles their descent when one of the two slides down the snow and precariously hangs while his partner holds on. Faced with the stiff decision of cutting the rope to save himself or holding on to his fellow climber, Simon cuts the rope.
12. Alive (1993)
A Uruguayan rugby team are forced to use desperate measures to survive the snow-capped Andes after a plane crash.
Directed by Frank Marshall the film follows the survivors of the Uruguayan rugby team, after their plane crashes into the Andes mountains. It shows them trying to survive the extreme weather with limited means, as they trek for nearly a week before finding some respite. One of the main characters of the film was played by Ethan Hawke.
13. Apollo 13 (1995)
3 astronauts are stranded in outer space after the space station suffers massive damage.
Ron Howard’s recreation of the near-fatal Apollo 13 mission with actors of the credibility like Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton, was nearly flawless. Thanks to this movie and Ed Harris’s sullen expression which made ‘Houston, we have a problem” so iconic for movie buffs around the world.
14. Into The Wild (2007)
Chris McCandless abandons his life savings, possessions, to live life in Alaska’s wilderness.
Sean Penn’s directorial venture was based on the life of Chris McCandless, who rejects civilisation and goes soul-searching in the wilderness of Alaska. Faced with certain death, Chris desperately searches for food and winds up eating a poisonous seed. McCandless’s story was adapted by famous writer Jon Krakaeur, which became the source material for Penn’s film.
15. The Martian (2015)
An astronaut becomes stranded on Mars after his team assume him dead, and must rely on his ingenuity to find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive.
Based on the hilarious novel by Andy Weir of the same name, Ridley Scott chose Matt Damon to ‘science the shit out’ of all means available to him after he’s left behind by his colleagues on Mars. This happens after a storm hits them during a normal recce, and Damon’s character Mark Watney gets caught under debris.
16. Lone Survivor (2013)
A team of US Navy SEALS are left to fight for their lives after a mission to capture a Taliban leader ends with them getting surrounded.
Peter Berg’s tale of a group of US Navy SEALS of how they survive adverse conditions when surrounded by the hell-fire of Arab militants. The movie stars Taylor Kitsch, Mark Wahlberg in the lead roles and unfortunately a lot of blood is shed on both sides. The film has a gritty tone to it, which is repeated in the future collaborations like Deepwater Horizon and Patriot’s Day.
Thanks to God, Allah aur Bhagwaan my life is not nearly like these movies.