August 14, 2013

Man vs. Nature

One of my very favourite types of action genre is the Survival movie; when man is forced to react to an unexpected event that changes their lives. Most recently The Grey starring Liam Neeson springs to mind. Although the movie really leaves you with nothing at the end, it keeps you riveted as these men all fight for survival against nature, wolves and most importantly each other.

It’s always fascinating how quickly people turn on each other in these kinds of situations and it really makes a story tense and involving. The Grey is also more of a study of death and how we all face it differently; the wolves of course being a representation of death itself.

Strangely enough, I find the idea of surviving in the wild rather appealing; not the death part, but I like the idea of going back to basics where it’s just me and the elements. I used to go up the mountains in Scotland exploring and nothing made me happier.

I think the whole man vs. nature idea never gets old and it’s a genre that’s been around really since the beginning of movies. Back in 1997 Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin starred in The Edge, which is one of my favourite movies because it’s about the human story… as well as a big bloody bear.

Hopkins’ character Charles Morse is a rich man with trust issues, but when he crashes in the wild with Alec Baldwin, these two rivals are forced to work together to survive; once they reach safety however, Baldwin’s true nature appears and Hopkins was right to be paranoid.

Cast Away starring Tom Hanks is a rather underrated movie; it doesn’t have any action as such but Hanks gives a good performance as a man who is trapped on a desert island and eventually marries a football called Wilson… or something. Hanks spends most of the movie by himself  so there isn’t much in the way of dialogue; it’s just him trying to keep sane and breathing.

When he makes it back home, the love of his life (Helen Hunt) has moved on and the movie ends with him literally standing at a crossroads, unsure of what to do next. Like so many movies of the genre, it doesn’t exactly have a happy ending. Once you’ve gone through something so traumatizing, it’s difficult to get back to a “normal” life.

One of the most famous movies of the genre is Deliverance starring Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight; even today it’s a harrowing tale of survival not only against nature but a bunch of crazed rednecks. It was a template for many movies since and the banjo theme is now iconic. All of the men are changed forever and not for the best.

Of course one of the best movies about survival is Rambo: First Blood; where most of the these movies are about people who don’t have any particular skills, Rambo is a fully trained combat vet. He can use nature and his surroundings as a weapon against his pursuers. As the line goes in part II “What you call Hell, he calls home”.

I could go on all day talking about various movies that deal with Survival but instead I will leave you with the classic poem from The Grey.

Once more into the fray
Into the last good fight I’ll ever know
Live and die on this day
Live and die on this day…

About the Author

Eoin Friel
Eoin Friel
I grew up watching JCVD, Sly and Arnold destroy bad guys, blow things up and spew one-liners like it's a fashion statement. Action is everything I go to the movies for and the reason I came up with this site is to share my love for the genre with everyone.



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