Friday, November 22, 2013

All is Lost - Robert Redford

What do you believe?  Is there a divine rescue, or is all lost?

Okay - if you plan on seeing this movie, don't read any further, unless you want to know the ending.

This movie's only actor is Robert Redford, who is sailing a small sailboat somewhere in the Indian Ocean.  This is how he loses everything:

  • A steel cargo container, floating in the ocean, rams a whole in the side of his boat
  • Redford manages to patch the hole.
  • Finally he finds the radio (and we have been wondering why he has taken so long), but he can only get vague crackles
  • There is  a huge storm, and the mast is broken.
  • Water is a few inches deep in the boat, but overnight it is filling rapidly
  • He inflates and boards the life raft
  • The boat sinks. 
  • His potable water is contaminated
  • The one fish he could catch was snatched away by a shark.
  • Two ships pass him by and dont see the flares.
  • He is near death, but sees a boat
  • He makes a fire, but soon the whole raft is aflame
  • He falls into the water, falling peacefully deeper and deeper.
  • All is indeed lost.
  • But not really! A light shines down, he swims upward, and we see an arm pulling him up.
So it is clear to me that this is an allegory of a man approaching death and dying. [Redford at age 77 surely must be thinking of these matter.]

I liked the image of him peacefully passing away.  I was really angry at the ending!
Not that I wouldn't wish the imaginary best for the character he is playing, but it is too deus ex machina.

One could respond that this is Redford's vision of the ultimate: a benevolent arm pulling one up to the light.

I think a lot of people have this image or love this image.  My own opinion is that it ruins the truth of what we actually know: that when you die, you lose everything.

There is part of me, however, that wishes I could believe in the divine rescue.  I just don't.  Ever since I was a child I have thought that one should not believe something because it is a beautiful story.

Maybe buddhist practice is here, right now, losing everything.