2 Movies 1 Moment: Lost At Sea

Thinking of taking a lovely ocean cruise? Well as fun as they are, the open sea is not always a welcome place. The movies love to put people out on the water and keep audiences guessing as to how our heroes can survive. With big storms, big fish, and big waves, people lost at sea make for some gripping movie moments. Here are two we’d like to paddle ashore for you.


Melissa’s Pick: The Reef (2010)

Film Summary: Five friends, Luke (Damian Walshe-Howling), Matt (Gyton Grantley), Suzie (Adrienne Pickering), Kate (Zoe Naylor) and Warren (Kieran Darcy-Smith) are sailing from Australia to Indonesia to deliver the sailboat to a customer. Things take a turn for the worse when the sailboat capsizes and they are left stranded over the Great Barrier Reef. How could things possibly get worse than this? They notice a great white shark in the waters nearby and it keeps getting closer and closer.

Lightning Entertainment
Lightning Entertainment

That Moment: As the current takes them further and further out to sea, Luke decides that it’s time for them to try and swim to an island that is approximately twelve miles away and wait for rescue there. The island is out of sight but Luke is sure that he knows where it is. Everyone agrees except Warren who doesn’t want to chance the shark infested waters and would rather sit on the capsized sailboat and wait for rescue. After some truly harrowing experiences, Luke, Suzie and Kate have nearly reached the island on which they will find refuge. As they swim towards it, Kate suddenly stops and tells the others to wait. There is a moment of complete silence and we see the vastness of the ocean around them and a shot of them from far below the surface, letting us know that they are still in very deep water. As they tread water, trying to keep as still as possible, a fin unexpectedly pops up no more than ten feet from them. Luke immediately puts his goggles on and looks under the water to see if he is able to spot the shark that has been stalking them since they left the boat. He can’t see anything. He comes back up and they all look around desperately for a sign of the shark. When the fin surfaces again, it’s obvious that it’s nothing more than a friendly dolphin. Relieved, they all laugh it off and sigh huge sighs relief. The small rocky island is so close now and Luke mentions that they arrived earlier than he expected. Suzie laughs and mentions that finally something is working in their favour and they all start swimming towards the rocks. They see another fin in the water and Suzie asks, “Is that the dolphin?” Luke drops under the water and tries to see what it is with his goggles on. He looks everywhere, turns and sees the shark swimming right at them, no less than two feet away. There are bubbles everywhere and lots of confusion but when Luke comes up it becomes clear that Suzie is gone. As they call for her, she pops up for a moment twenty feet away from them, surrounded by her own blood. Luke swims out to help her but before he can get to her the shark comes back and pulls her under the water.

Damian Walshe-Howling
Damian Walshe-Howling

Why it Matters: This movie is one heck of an emotional roller coaster. We’ve been watching for so long at this point and are so high strung that we feel the same way as the characters. The realization that the fin is a dolphin is so welcoming that it really does make us want to laugh. Not only that, but the small island that they have been swimming towards for over a day is finally not only in sight but so very close. They finally have the feeling that they might be safe; they might survive this nightmare. And then, to have that sense of security ripped from you, it’s enough to fray anyone’s nerves. This is the typical, it’s not over until it’s over moment but it’s handled so well here. To be lost at sea and to be stalked by one of the most effective predators on earth, that’s truly terrifying. The seclusion, the panic and fear, the inability to sleep or rest for fear of drowning. What could possibly be more terrifying? This movie portrays those feelings perfectly and this scene seals the deal.

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Director:

Andrew Traucki

Writers:

Andrew Traucki, James M. Vernon (script editor) (as James Michael Vernon)

Stars:

 

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David’s Pick: The Bounty (1984)

Film Summary: The fifth film adaptation of the true story of the Mutiny on the Bounty, this film follows the tragic fates of the crew of the Bounty captained by the now infamous Lieutenant William Bligh (Anthony Hopkins), though it takes a much more sympathetic stance toward the often misunderstood leader of the ship as he attempts to drives his his boat and men around Cape Horn but fails and ends up staying at see for far longer, and the going the long way to Tahiti where they must wait for months before safe passage. In this time, his crew become laxed and accustomed to the peaceful island life and the beautiful native women who swoon. When back at sea, the men have a change of heart about their mission and put Bligh first mate and good friend Fletcher Christian (Mel Gibson), who has also fallen in with Tahitian woman, to lead a revolt and take over the ship.

Orion Pictures Corporation
Orion Pictures Corporation

That Moment: As Christian tries to reason with Bligh about the stringent and sometimes contradictory orders odd behaviors the Lieutenant demonstrates, he finally relents under the pressure of the frustrated and beleaguered crew, already angered by Bligh’s whippings of some men and unwavering demand for absolute discipline. The mutiny does not goes over well as Fletcher rounds up Bligh and the commanding officers, and decides not to murder them but set them adrift in the middle of the Pacific in a single longboat with limited rations. While the remaining crew argue the choice, Fletcher persists and eventually Bligh and his officers are boarded on a small launch and cast off. As the Bounty sails away, Bligh and men are left to try and survive the wild ocean as they plot a course for the Dutch Indies, an impressive 6,701 km (4,164 mi) journey that took 41 days with only one loss of life when they attempted  landing on the island of Tofua and were attacked.

Orion Pictures Corporation
Orion Pictures Corporation

Why it Matters: One of the great tales of the sea ever, this remarkable true story is historically accurate and deviates from earlier films by letting Bligh be more of a human and less of a monster, instead demonstrating his superior seamanship skills in a voyage that many thought would be impossible. Hopkins does some of his best work here as the embattled Bligh, trying to keep control of an increasingly desperate situation and maintaining order on a boat that should have descended into chaos. The scenes at sea are gripping and the sense of futility is overwhelming, while the courage of these men is inspiring. By giving proper attention to both sides of the conflict, we are never sure where to put our sympathies, which speaks well for the film as a whole. As a lost at sea moment, The Bounty features one of the best in cinema and as it is based on a true event, resonates long after watching.

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Director:

Roger Donaldson

Writers:

Richard Hough (book), Robert Bolt (screenplay)

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