My purpose in writing about this movie is 3 fold. 1. Discuss the pure entertainment value of the movie. 2. Discuss the issues of seamanship on the open ocean in a small boat. 3. Most importantly the moral dilemma of man’s Pride leading down the road of Hopelessness, ending at the false Hope of true Redemption.
1. For the purpose of pure entertainment I thoroughly enjoyed watching this movie. The visceral tension created from the beginning to the end is very well done. I was reminded of the same nerve riviting tension as in the movie OPEN WATER.
No surprise it received so many strong reviews, including a 4 star rating from Rex Reed. I would say probably Robert Redford’s overall best acting performance.
2. From the standpoint of going to sea on a small boat, I watched this movie and was both amazed by the resilient strength and knowledge of this old man on the sea and by the extreme incompetence he demonstrated on the other side of the same coin. He demonstrated remarkable skills and resilience, but was continually compelled to use these skills to overcome the largeness of his overall blindness in understanding the BIG picture.
The bottom line: He was outmatched from the beginning because he failed to realize he was in an environment greatly exceeding his overall experience, knowledge and certainly his equipment.
While watching the tragedy quickly evolve through numerous technical mistakes , I found myself continually reflecting on my own experiences in the open ocean.
I’m a licensed, fairly experienced ocean day sailor, including a 20 year career in the US Navy including both surface and submarine service with extended deployments.
Although I’ve received offers to crew on extended open ocean voyages [including half hemisphere jouneys Pacific and western Atlantic] I’ve vehemently declined. Why? Because I have personally witnessed the unimaginable power of a storm at sea several times. 2 most noteworthy were: A. Submerged in a 6,800 ton nuclear submarine over 300 feet below the surface of a storm being rolled around like a whobbling top. B. Standing on Bridge Watch on a Navy warship 60 feet above the surface watching green water smash into the wind screen while being thrown down and around like a rag doll.
3. The moral dilemma of man’s Pride leading down the road of Hopelessness, ending at the false Hope of true Redemption. This is the theme, the story that we are told here in this movie. And very much like the movie “Open Water” we find the protagonist in a state of hopelessness. No matter how resilient, how resourceful the inevitable end is death.
I had to ask myself, how did this sad, pathetic man played by Robert Redford get himself in this situation? The word that kept coming forth and displaying itself in the movie was PRIDE. Stubborn Pride.
We are misled by watching this man fight against nature seemingly against God himself. We are led to feel pity for him. I personally felt contempt for his arrogant contempt against God in his pride fueled delusion that reminded me of a spoiled toddler. Not once in the entire movie do we see this man pray or call out to God. There is a scene he breaks down finally and curses God by crying out the word “God” then after a few sobs blurts out “F#$%*” profanity. Mind you, this is powerful because there are less than 20 words spoken during the entire movie.
The message here in this movie is clear: I’m out here being stupid because this is all about me. I am not truly broken and repentant . I don’t need you God. I will do this my own way and when I reach the end – it is all good because when I give up, I will be saved. Not by you God, but by blind luck.
In the movie he does finally reach the end and falls beneath the depths, dying with a smile of contentment on his once defiant face. He sinks further down until he’s miraculously plucked out by a hand from a boat that finds him (drawn by the majestic splendor of the flames emanating from his sinking raft that he lit in his final sacrificial plea).
This leaves the viewer with a firm grip on the false belief in man’s ability to find redemption on his own terms even after cursing God.
Final review of the movie for its moral value: Blasphemous.
Please watch this video to find the Truth about Redemption and Salvation.