Survival Movie is a film genre where characters needs to make physical effort to survive, and this type of movies are often hit and highest rates on IMDB. Survival movies are darker than most adventure films which usually focus their storyline and less romanticized. Here is a list of Top 10 Best Survival Movies for you guys. Without wasting any time let’s start with list.
Top 10 Best Survival Movies
Leave it to Christian Bale to outdo his typically intense preparation for a role. Known for dropping and adding to his weight repeatedly for a string of medium-to-low profile roles, he bulked up considerably for his shot at the A-List with “Batman Begins.” True to his horrifying dedication to his craft, however, he immediately followed that blockbuster with this Werner Herzog collaboration, dramatically dropping his weight once again for this narrative retelling of Herzog’s moving doc “Little Dieter Needs To Fly.” The subject of the tale, which also featured in our recent Prison Breaks feature, is a struggle against adversity for Dieter Dengler, the German-American pilot shot down in Vietnam and held as a P.O.W. Herzog, however, turns it into a parable of man versus nature, illustrating instead the harsh physical conditions for Dengler and a group of other survivors similarly struggling with food and health. The cruelty of Dengler’s captors is considerable, but Herzog lingers over the physical and emotional struggles of the group, some of whom, like a long-gone pilot played by Jeremy Davies, begin to break down.Herzog’s film seems, unlike his other work, to be wrestling with the commercial considerations of the story as well as Herzog’s typically intrigued view of the wilderness, and the spectacle and sentimentality of the adventure feels like an ill-conceived marriage with the thoughtful observations on clashing identities—much of Dengler’s past as an assimilated German soldier feels stapled on from a much more introspective picture.
Stranded: I’ve Come From a Plane That Crashed on the Mountains
The famous and harrowing story of a rugby team from Uruguay who boarded Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, crash landed in the Chilean Andes Mountains and were forced to resort to cannibalism to survive is one that has been told myriad times. In cinema, the most well-known version is “Alive” (which you can read about elsewhere in this feature), but frankly even that vivid dramatization cannot hold a candle to this first-person documentary that recounts the entire ordeal as told by the survivors of the plane. Directed by Uruguayan filmmaker Gonzalo Arijon, ‘Stranded’ is presented in standard operating procedure: talking heads, newspaper clippings, TV reports, archival footage, etc., but by never getting in the way of the story and letting the survivors tell their horrors of their ordeal, it manages to be unflinching and unimaginably brutal, but also graceful and even uplifting—a mesmerizing tale of suffering and the human spirit’s capacity to endure. Gripping (for every second of its rather long 2 hours and 10 minutes) and respectful, with a distinct spiritual aura to it, it’s remarkable just how often this story has been told and yet just how suspenseful and utterly absorbing it truly is.
Nicolas Roeg’s odyssey-like travelogue begins like a nightmare: fractured, violent, and spatially impossible. A dying man, a burning car, and the bleak wilderness traps two young siblings in the wild, forcing them to survive on their own. Both of them begin to fulfill socially accepted roles: the younger brother begins to hunt and gather, learning he is now a protector of sorts, rebuilding their civilized upper-class background from the ground up. The older sister, meanwhile, becomes more vulnerable than previously thought, opening herself up to the sensual pleasures of the land, intimately befriending a local Aboriginal and discovering her maternal instincts towards her more reckless sibling. While “Walkabout” doesn’t skimp on the struggles of life in the wilderness, it’s telling that the most harsh scenes are both the intro, when the children’s father lays waste to whatever remnants of city life they have, as well as a flashback scene that shows the division of the household from which they came.
What makes “The Grey” such an exceptional story of survival, as it is, is that it pits the very worst of humanity (a bunch of shifty, listless losers working on an oil pipeline in Alaska) against the very worst of nature, and sees how things play out—it’s hardly a spoiler to say that nature usually wins. Liam Neeson plays a man who has just lost his wife to illness and who takes a job on the oil pipeline killing the wolves that encroach on the camp. When a plane that the workers are traveling in crashes (in a wonderfully realized sequence that starts with Neeson realizing that he shouldn’t be able to see his breath inside the cabin), the men are hunted, one by one, by a pack of wolves. It’s terrifying. And all the more terrifying because these guys really are the worst of the worst: the toughest, meanest motherfuckers who take jobs like this because they are largely off the books and hard to track. The men have to work together to try and outwit the wolves and survive in the horribly cold conditions; it’s a schlocky thrill to watch. The movie was advertised as a dumb action movie, but it has its deeper, bleaker, and more philosophically contemplative side, with Neeson flashing back to his dying wife (in sequences that packed an added unexpected punch after the untimely death of Neeson’s actual wife, Natasha Richardson).
Life of Pi
In book form, Yann Martel’s best-seller is a stirring testament to faith and resolve, the story of a boy who conquers impossible odds through steadfast philosophy. Director Ang Lee doesn’t discard the headier notions of the story, but does end up cinematically repackaging the heart and soul of the material into a high-adventure yarn that finds Pi (Suraj Sharma) lost at sea with a hungry tiger as his companion. Though ostensibly a “kid’s film,” Lee doesn’t shy away from the obvious danger that the tiger, named Richard Parker, represents, as he quickly dines on a hyena that has already made short work of a zebra and orangutan. This isn’t a pretty, pet tiger, and this isn’t a pleasant tale of one boy’s freewheeling nautical adventures, and soon Pi faces a losing battle against the elements, one that forces him to be a man on the fly, fishing for food and learning to appease the orange man-eater sharing the boat with him. Lee’s use of 3D is borderline revolutionary, as it uses groundbreaking special effects to place the viewer at sea with Pi, turning the ocean into a gorgeous, but absolutely alien atmosphere, an otherworldly place where it almost seems like the fish are snapping out at you.
The Naked Prey
Few men have been quite as macho as Cornel Wilde is in this survivalist adventure tale, directed by Wilde himself. He plays a travel guide who leads a group of disrespectful white men into the African wilderness on an elephant hunt. All it takes is one colonial asshole to ruin the whole day, and when these modern idiots in their perfectly pressed white hunting uniforms insult the local tribe, the group becomes mincemeat. Wilde escapes the brunt of their wrath because game respects game, but the head start they give him doesn’t seem all that substantial when it’s an entire tribe versus one man. Not only does Wilde master the elements, subsisting on minimal food and protection, but he even befriends a local boy, and the two of them sing songs together. Though it is not without suspense (the picture is often a white-knuckle affair), the skill and excellence of Wilde’s mastery of the elements and his otherworldly athleticism provides the excitement. This is a chase, this is an action picture, this is film at breakneck speed.
Man In The Wilderness
Mostly forgotten as a movie beyond just a survival action/drama (though “action” is rather relative), 1971’s “Man In The Wilderness” is still an interesting footnote in the genre. Directed by Richard C. Sarafian (best known for 1971’s “Vanishing Point” which we wrote about recently here), the movie stars Richard Harris as a relentless and tough fur trapper in the 1890s who is left for dead by his Northwest Territory expeditionary group after he is mauled by a bear. The leader (John Huston) knows the quiet man who keeps to himself well (or as much as anyone can), but noting that every man is expendable, the troupe must push on. But the savagery of nature—wolves, Indians, bears, et al.—simply cannot break the will of this one man and not only does the Harris character survive, he endures long enough to catch up with his old friends. Mostly silent and moody, Harris barely says a word throughout the whole film, but the picture has interesting atmospherics thanks to cinematographer Gerry Fisher (Sidney Lumet‘s “Running On Empty,” 1970’s “Ned Kelly” starring Mick Jagger) and composer Johnny Harris. Mostly meditative, the movie’s dynamic elements come from flashbacks to Richard Harris’ character as a boy and the members of the expedition wondering if he’ll come back and seek vengeance on them as their consciences begin to gnaw at them. While some could slot this movie into the revenge territory, that would be a bit of a mis-categorization as it’s never the movie’s focus.
Anyone who saw “Green Lantern” probably wanted to trap Ryan Reynolds in a coffin and bury him deep below ground. But those who actually watch “Buried” will probably be surprised by just how good the hunky leading man can be in just that situation. Reynolds plays a truck driver working for an unnamed private contractor in Iraq. His convoy is attacked and he is left alone in a coffin with a Blackberry and a few assorted items. The kidnappers call him on his Blackberry and demand $5 million or he’ll be left underneath the sandy earth to die. Unlike most survival movies, the chance that he will actually die seems ever-present: being a handsome movie star doesn’t mean shit in “Buried.” This is evidenced by the sequence where he imagines his rescuers pulling him out of the ground, which turns out to be a cruel mirage. Unlike many survival films, “Buried” wins points for putting you in a similar psychological state as our hero: what is a darkened movie theater but a light-less tomb? The movie is an effective thriller, cheap and politically pointed, but it does have an agreeably bleak finale that you almost can’t believe they got away with.
One man, one island, one volleyball … Directed by Robert Zemeckis, “Cast Away” strands a familiar face alone on an uninhabited island, and in the throes of survival, he becomes a loincloth-laden, spear-chucking island man. Playing FedEx employee Chuck Noland (apparently FedEx didn’t pay for the product placement), Tom Hanks gained fifty pounds to play pre-island Chuck. For on-the-island Chuck, Hanks lost the weight and grew out his hair and beard for that rugged, ragged, “haven’t eaten something not personally caught in years” look. While stuck on the island and without anyone else for company/companionship/yelling (let alone Gilligan, the Skipper or the rest of “the three hour tour” gang), Chuck adapts to his surroundings—building fires, learning to fish with a spear, making a friend (“Wilson”) out of a Wilson volleyball with a painted-on face. With the key to survival being to never give up hope, Chuck makes the great attempt to venture out at sea on a makeshift raft, and though he loses Wilson along the way, is found by a passing cargo ship.
The Way Back
It sure doesn’t sound like a recommendation, but “The Way Back” truly feels like you’re enduring the elements with the cast. This true story follows a diverse group of survivors after their escape from a Siberian camp during World War II, forced instead to survive off the land for weeks as they trek all the way to Mongolia. Despite a PG-13 rating, “The Way Back” is a grisly affair, taking a plausible look at the wear-and-tear of such a journey, the cuts, bruises and frostbite undergone by the cast in vivid detail. Director Peter Weir seems tailor-made for such a story, finding great detail in the journey and the struggle, as he’s presided over a career made up of the idea of travel and exploration into the unknown. As the lead, Jim Sturgess is fairly underwhelming, never conveying the inner life necessary for a movie like this, which largely dispenses with backstory in favor of you-are-there verisimilitude. But the surprise, at least to those who snark over the man’s un-bankability, is Colin Farrell.
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