‘Cast Away’ Turns 20 and Twitter Declares It to Be the Ultimate Social Distancing Movie

It’s been an incredible twenty years since Tom Hanks appeared stranded on a deserted island in the character of Chuck Noland in the now-iconic film, Cast Away.

Tom Hanks in 'Cast Away,' 2000
Tom Hanks in ‘Cast Away,’ 2000 | 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images

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The film about a Fed Ex executive marooned on an island for four years with little dialogue, except for Noland’s one-way conversations with a volleyball that washes up on the island, has captured the imagination of fans again.

Two decades later, many are noting how much the film has to teach us during our current season of anxiety-provoking and confusing social distancing.

‘Cast Away’ turns 20

Released in 2000, audiences at first didn’t know what to make of director Robert Zemeckis’ Cast Away. Early in the movie, the plane that Hanks’ character Chuck Noland is on crashes into the sea. He’s the only survivor of the early fiery plane crash scene, after which there’s little action in the film. And yet, it was a critical and box-office success.

Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, 2000
Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, 2000 | Jim Smeal/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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“All we hear from Mr. Hanks,” The New York Times wrote in its 2000 review of the film of the lack of dialogue in the film, “are the grunts and howls of a man exerting himself to stay alive . . . Ultimate isolation, the movie reminds us, doesn’t have a soundtrack except what the environment churns up along with the ringing in our ears, our heartbeats and the voices chattering in our minds.”

The film’s relevance in our social distancing environment

Twenty years on, Cast Away mirrors life for so many during the pandemic we are living through. In many instances, we’re apart from those we love, unable to visit the sick, we are urged to remain masked and apart, living through days that seem maddeningly difficult to tell apart.

The trailer for ‘Cast Away’ starring Tom Hanks

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As Hanks told ABC News about being isolated on an island, in a point that could eerily be said of the spring of 2020, “It’s about a different brand of loneliness that is very different from being home on a Saturday night with nothing to do. He’s completely removed from any of the distractions that fill up our lives. That’s where Chuck begins to crack, and begins to lose the battle of his own desperation.”

Twitter sees Chuck Noland in our current circumstances

And while millions are hunkered down to maintain government-mandated social distancing, Cast Away has been the film of choice for quite a few, and the connection between Noland’s situation and our current status has been noted.

'Cast Away'
‘Cast Away’

Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson were diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19) in Mar. 2020 and a fan tweeted this week, “Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson were the first public figures to acknowledge having COVID-19. This . . . from his movie Cast Away is inspirational for these days: ‘Keep breathing…until the tide turns.’ “

Another recent tweet drew out the film’s lessons for us today, “It’s critical to live in the present moment, and as was shown masterfully in the movie Cast Away, take one day at a time—-because you never know what tomorrow will bring. In Cast Away, early on, Tom Hanks loses hope and contemplates taking his own life—-but the surf eventually brought him what he needed to be saved. ”

Early into the pandemic, a fan noted, sadly, yet hopeful an end was in sight: “A lonely day become lonelier when I realized it. Cast Away movie is real for the next 17 days.”

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