Archives For September 2015

The Top 10 Survival Movies

September 17, 2015 — 2 Comments

After watching two fascinating survival movies in the past few weeks, it has been a reminder of why I appreciate these movies so much. The first was 71′ starring Jack O’Connell (Unbroken) and All Is Lost (2013) starring Robert Redford. They are incredibly different stories of survival but their lives were at stake and basic human instincts the same. I understand that movies like this are difficult to watch for some but I would argue that they are necessary for us to watch, learn, and grow.


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 Can Survival Movies Change Us?

What I love about survival movies is seeing how characters respond to their fear. Some panic. Some find their true grit. Ultimately each character must recognize that they need others and for many, they need God. No character is left unscathed and can survive alone.

If we look close enough, we can see ourselves in these characters. I draw hope, courage, and inspiration from many of them.

As movies like The Martian and Everest release, it is time to reflect on some of the finest survival films.

There are many excellent movies about survival, too many to count in fact, but here are my ten favorite along with honorable mention.

The Poseidon Adventure (1972)

A group of passengers struggle to survive and escape when their ocean liner completely capsizes at sea. Gene Hackman is at his best leading a group to safety.

All Is Lost (2013)

After a collision with a shipping container at sea, a resourceful sailor played by Robert Redford finds himself, despite all efforts to the contrary, starring his mortality in the face. It is one of the most beautiful and personal films about survival because of the close-proximity filming style the director uses.

Swiss Family Robinson (1960)

After being shipwrecked on a deserted island, the Robinson family overcome the obstacles of nature and transform their new home into a community. Pirates, tigers, and storms. What more could a family adventure bring? If you visit Magic Kingdom at Disney World, you have to tour the treehouse.

Panic Room (2002)

A divorced woman played courageously by Jodie Foster and her diabetic daughter (a young Kristen Stewart) take refuge in their newly purchased house’s safe room, when three men break-in, searching for a missing fortune. Even in your own home, survival is the central theme.

Alive (1993)

Uruguayan rugby team stranded in the snow swept Andes are forced to use desperate measures to survive after a plane crash. The movie begs the question, ‘how far will you go to survive’?

Castaway (2000)

A FedEx executive played by Tom Hanks must transform himself physically and emotionally to survive a crash landing on a deserted island. The ending still makes me wonder.

127 Hours (2010)

A climber played by James Franco goes on a hike and becomes trapped. Yes, he even has conversations with Scooby Doo. It’s a reminder to let people know where you are going before you head into the wilderness.

Rescue Dawn (2006)

A U.S. fighter pilot played by Christian Bale and his epic struggle of survival after being shot down on a mission over Laos during the Vietnam War.

Flight of the Phoenix (1965)

Robert Aldrich’s tense, 1965 drama about a plane crash in the Sahara is a unique psychological study of men in desperate circumstances. I studied this film in business management classes.

Apollo 13 (1995)

NASA must devise a strategy to return Apollo 13 to Earth safely after the spacecraft undergoes massive internal damage putting the lives of the three astronauts on board in jeopardy. Led by Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell and supported by Bill Paxton with the omnipresent Kevin Bacon, this is a must-watch “failure is not an option” movie.

Honorable Mention

Life is Beautiful (1997)

28 Days Later (2002)

The Day After (1983) 

71′ (2004)

Lone Survivor (2013)

Into the Wild (2007)

The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

White Water Summer (1987)

Unbroken (2014)

Red Dawn (1984)

Empire of the Sun (1987) 

Gravity (2013)

What are your favorite survival movies and why?