Abandoned (aka Stranded in the UK) tells the true story of 4 men that survived 119 days in an overturned trimaran. It’s a fascinating story of survival both physically and mentally and this film gives a unique insight into the mind of the survivors as well as the shock of returning back to a world that doesn’t believe them.
The Disasters Faced
A rogue wave, drowning, starvation, mental breakdown, attacks from wildlife and attacks from your own crew as they fall apart around you. Oh – and sharks.
The film focuses on Rose Noelle’s owner John whose spent his life as a nomad on the sea. He is slightly unhinged and has unwavering faith in God that they will be saved. In some ways he reminds me Reverand Scott from The Poseidon Adventure – only he is a real person here! Of his three crew-mates, Jim is a matter of fact guy, calm and collected in a situation, Phil is a complete mess but grows into his own over time and Rick gets increasingly confrontational and desperate to try anything to get home. The film is narrated and therefore seen through the eyes of John and so each character is heavily nuanced around John’s pure faith and how it drives the others up the wall. Being based on a real story that takes place over 120 days but in just 86 minutes, some of these more intricate moments are somewhat gleaned over. The story focuses firstly on their predicament and then how they need to work together despite their differences to become a team. If you read the description on the DVD you know that they survive but it is fascinating to work out and see how they did it.
Why it’s worth watching
Abandoned doesn’t bother with mellow drama or subplots. These men are so wound up by each other that actually, it is as much about the journey of them beginning to work as a team as it is finding rescue. The acting is spot on because each character goes through different emotions at different times but without becoming a complete Broadway show about them. It also has some really interesting points of view around being rescued. Our main character John lives his life on the sea and so becomes at odds with himself for being rescued. They’d created such a unit together, in his eyes at least, that he almost wanted them to continue the adventure forever. I’m not sure if its survivors’ guilt or not, but that and the general shock John is in for rest of the film as the media decide they don’t believe them is really quite eye-opening.
Aside from the story, cast and pacing, the film is beautifully shot and gives a sense of both isolation and claustrophobia.
The film opens with the set piece – a rogue wave capsizing the boat itself. The way the set tilts and flips is a great piece of set design, prop throwing and camera trickery. Aside from that, the set afterwards and suitably wet and small, but the vast open sea shots are beautifully done.
One of the best things about Abandoned is that each of the main cast members has their time to shine. John is both barmy in his faith and love for his boat, but with that faith comes strength to carry on. Phil can’t be trusted to do anything but his personality is one that infects the room – so when he feels good, it’s a good day on deck. Rick is desperate and aggressive and yet he starts out initially as someone who’d seem quite reasonable and calm. He is the catalyst for many of the high tension moments but also those moments keep things progressing – so is that always a bad thing? Jim is the quiet force of calm and caring on the ship and looks out for everyone but his home life is a mess so he isn’t perfect either. You can see parts of yourself in each of them and that makes a good movie. I’d definitely vote for Jim to be onboard if I’d capsize though. Calmness and cooking skills are on point!
It’s worthwhile pointing out that Phil in real life passed away in 2015 – the year the film was released, which leaves just half the crew alive as of writing (2018).
“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing” John
Three memorable moments
- The capsizing itself
- Albatross for dinner
- John’s post-rescue monologue at the end
The obligatory weird moment
It’s not weird but ironic. They end up washed up on Great Barrier Island which is about 50 miles from New Zealand. They just went round in a circle… for 119 days!
The Drinking Game
Rick loves to have a meltdown and so each time he goes into a rage at one of the others take a shot… but don’t follow his examples!
Abandoned is short, sweet and to the point. Whilst I may have preferred a little more depth in the background to our sailors and a bit more about the investigation to clear their names post-rescue, it’s still a fine film about human survival.
Rating: 4/5 (Excellent)
If you liked Abandoned then you may like…
- The Mercy (equally trapped at sea for a long time)
- All is Lost (Abandoned + Cast Away = All is Lost)
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~Last updated to support new review format 03/10/18