While I was working on this website I watched the movie All is Lost .written and directed by J.C. Chandor and starring Robert Redford. The movie has almost no dialog. Its focus is on one man (unnamed man which I shall call Redford) who sails off on a lone voyage and becomes lost at sea. Redford is very resilient, methodically focused on the task at hand, taking each crisis in stride almost to the feeling of detachment..Standard for most sailors is to carry a location devise. Also when taking on water first to notify authorities then to attempt to handle the emergency. My impression is that he has become defined by his self reliance and reaching out for help has become a risk that no longer registers as an option.
What begins is a series of crises that Redford attends to until he finally runs out of options and must abandon ship. He was not able to overcome the final crisis,.. There is nothing else he alone can do. He has thrown up his last flair. On his face we can see his acceptance of "all is lost".
As Redford sinks downward. into the sea, a boat appears. It is a person with a search light. A hand reaches down into the water toward Redford. Redford swims up toward the surface and clasps the outstretched hand. Fade to White. .In an interview with 'Television Without Pity', Chandor explained Fade To White:
There are 21 frames of white right at the last moment that I put in there and that's a little unusual because it lights up the theater in a weird way. But in my mind, it was a way of cementing the end of the film and locking it in your mind, so it's your film, I'm handing it over. Hopefully , you’re learning something about yourself and starting to think about that.
Reportedly audiences are divided into two camps as to the ending of the movie.
One camp believes Redford dies and the extended hand is that of a spiritual being guiding him into the beyond. . The fade to white represents the afterlife.
The other camp believes Redford reaches out clasps the hand and is saved by the person in the boat.
That whatever pain/hurt/regret that caused Redford to decide to go it alone allowed room for the acceptance of. help. He did reach up, trust an other and an other was there. He was not alone. All is not lost.
I think many of us can relate to this part of Redford that wants to go it alone. Its an experience we all have had. Children can express this very honestly: "You have hurt me. I don’t need you. I will do it by myself." The parent sees the hurt and reaches out to repair. But what if this hurt and disappointed happens too much? What if there is no attempt to repair? That is the feeling I had watching Redford. It did not feel like watching a man at peace, enjoying time alone or dealing with a not yet repaired disappointment. Watching him felt tragic. That he was stuck alone in a place of protecting from hurt and disappointment. He was hurt beyond trying to contact help. This movie was a good illustration of what happens when hurt becomes cemented. in us. and blocks the possibility of connecting when one is hurting and in need. . In the end it took a life and death crisis for Redford to turn toward an other. He chose to be saved. I believe this represents a life changing moment. A life time of isolation and self- sufficiency broke open to a moment of acceptance of need for an other. Fade to white.