It’s the heart-pounding, anxiety-inducing, ‘will-they-or-won’t-they-make-it-through’ thrill of survival movie genre that makes the genre so popular. Because when disaster strikes, and no matter how dire the circumstances may be, it’s in our human nature to believe all is not lost, to never give up, and that somehow, just somehow, there will be a way to survive. Here’s our rundown of the best survival movies you have to see!
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Cast Away (2000)
One of the most famous survival movies of all time. Tom Hanks plays Chuck Noland, a FedEx employee who’s stranded on an uninhabited island in South Pacific in 1995 after his plane goes down. Completely alone (apart from a friend called Wilson – he doesn’t talk much), he must find food, shelter and some way of returning home.
[Director: Robert Zemeckis]
The Road (2009)
In a post-apocalyptic world, Viggo Mortensen plays a man struggling to survive with his young son, scavenging for supplies and trying to avoid savage gangs who will enslave them, or worse, as they make their way to the coast. Bleak, tense and shocking to watch, the film shows humanity surviving at its limits. [Director: John Hillcoat]
The Revenant (2015)
Set in the tough wilderness of the Dakotas in 1823, Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Hugh Glass – a guide who’s left to die by trapper John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy) after he’s viciously mauled by a bear. Uncompromisingly brutal, but also starkly beautiful, the film is a masterful tale of betrayal, the will to live and revenge.
[Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu]
The Martian (2015)
In 2035, astronaut and botanist Mark Watney (played by Matt Damon) is left stranded on Mars following a devastating storm, with his only chance of rescue being the next Mars mission four years later. To survive, he’ll not only have to grow enough of his own food (and make his own fertiliser), but also somehow find a way to tell NASA he’s still alive. A great character study movie.
[Director: Ridley Scott]
All Is Lost (2013)
When a solo sailor’s boat collides with a shipping container, destroying his communicator and GPS equipment, he has to improvise his own rudimentary navigational technology to find help. Robert Redford stars alone in this tense, and mostly silent (seriously, there are more words in this paragraph than the film) survival-at-sea movie.
[Director: JC Chandor]
The Shallows (2016)
Blake Lively stars as Nancy Adams, a surfer stranded on a rock outcrop, 200m from the shore. Although the distance isn’t far to swim, the problem is there’s a terrifying great white shark circling her day and night, waiting to finish what he started, and it’ll take guts and determination to outwit it…
[Director: Jaume Collet-Serra]
Based on a true story, after a Uruguayan rugby team’s plane crashes into the Andes mountains in 1972, with no hope of rescue, and at severe risk of starvation, the remaining survivors are forced to resort to extreme measures to stay alive long enough to make it off the mountain.
[Director: Frank Marshall]
Apollo 13 (1995)
Space is undoubtedly the harshest environment you can get. The 1969 Apollo 13 mission was supposed to be the third moon landing, but after an oxygen tank fails on their spacecraft, NASA astronauts Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise (played by Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Bill Paxton) face a desperate struggle to return to earth alive. A great survival movie with the human spirit at its best in one of the best classic Sci-Fi movies. Don’t miss it.
[Director: Ron Howard]
Hopefully, this survival movies list has given you some ideas if you fancy watching one of the best movie examples of this type (or even to re-watch some of them). Agree? Disagree? Which beating adversity films would you recommend? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a comment on our Facebook page.