Horizon at Sandy Point

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Amen Amen Amen

What would you do to survive, to be found, to be home again? To what lengths would you go to be saved? If you stood to lose everything in your last act, in the hope that you might be saved, what would you do?

The story of the film All is Lost, is undramatic. Alone on the Indian Ocean, his sailboat damaged, the man (Robert Redford) survives. He hardly talks to himself. The only actions are those taken to go from one day to the next, small movements. The only violence is the weather, the harshness of the sun, the scarcity of salt-less water, the turbulence of his thoughts. And Alex Ebert's haunting piano and lyrics the only accompaniment to the flat ocean above which a container - remnant of some human accident? - drifts.

There are no words for loss. The day by day paring away of possessions, of dreams and thinking, leaves a body empty of all but itself and the thinnest of hopes. Living is involuntary: deep under water we struggle to the surface. Adrift on a flat ocean, we scan the horizon, we search the depths for food, we do not give up, we live until we can't live any more. And if the body is not to survive, we will that some small part of our souls live on.

The final words for every human life that ever lived must be these, scrawled on a page stuffed in a bottle: "I am sorry. All is lost here... except for soul and body... that is, what's left of them... and a half-day's ration. It's inexcusable really, I know that now. How it could have taken this long to admit that I'm not sure... but it did. I fought 'til the end - I'm not sure what this is worth - but know that I did. I have always hoped for more for you all... I will miss you. I'm sorry."

Sorry for what exactly? Surely, we are sorry not to have lived another day, only sorry not to have survived.

Robert Redford is Our Man on board the Virginia Jean

All is Lost, directed by JC Chandor, is a solo performance by Robert Redford at 75, spare as Beckett's Waiting for Godot. One director, one actor, the film has 17 producers, and credits 103 companies. And three sailboats.  According to the film's credits: " three boats generously gave themselves up for art: Tahoe, Tenacious, and Orion. They took their final sails in the Pacific Ocean and performed beautifully in the film as Our Man's boat, the Virginia Jean. Rest in peace."

Writer and director for All is Lost, JC Chandor, and Robert Redford

For 106 minutes, you are held in the thrall of a life.  The end may be anti-climax; but it is perfect as Pi adrift on his ark with the tiger, as Rose on Titanic. The journey's the thing. What need is there for length of days? As Alex Ebert's award-winning song declares, "Amen. Amen. Amen." So be it.

Listen here to Ebert's "Amen" Best Original Score - Motion Picture by the Golden Globes USA in 2014:

(All information and photos from IMDb)

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