Blue Tit gathering material for the nest
Ortisei, Feb 2014
All Is Lost review
Dir: J.C Chandor
With ‘All Is Lost’ Chandor has created a classic survival story but with a refreshing minimalist tone. The unnamed sailor who is the sole character of All Is Lost, is immediately thrust into survival mode when his yacht is badly damaged in the Indian Ocean by a stray container. From this point on the situation goes from bad to worse as the audience follows each pragmatic decision made by the sailor to survive the ordeal. From the monologue narrated by the sailor at the start of the film we are given to expect the most pessimistic outcome for the story and are left to witness the events that will lead to this conclusion.
The sailor is an enigma to the audience from the start as we are given no name and no background to help in our understanding. The mysterious nature of the character teamed with the lack of significant spoken word throughout the story leads the audience to judge the character solely on the decisions that he makes in the worsening crisis that surrounds him. By creating a blank canvas like this for the audience the viewer can project any persona onto the character and fully identify with him. With no set up or prologue to the story the audience is left to interpret the character totally independently.
The cinematography in ‘All Is Lost’ totally immerses the audience into the environment of the sailor. Long shots from above and below the boat convey how isolated the sailor really is and reminds us of the dangers lying beneath the surface. Tight shots within the yacht translate the claustrophobic and dangerous surroundings of the character perfectly. The mix of vertigo inducing point of view shots and disorientating camera movements throws the viewer right into the yacht with the sailor with quite nauseating consequences.
The greatest triumph in the film lies in the score that achieves a great deal in its subtlety. The atmosphere is set greatly by the soundtrack and it’s clear that it was made with acute attention to detail. Whether it be the creaking of the yacht, the crashing of the waves or the angry rumble of a storm, the natural audio is a constant reminder of the perils surrounding the sailor. Woven in with these sounds is an understated and quite organic soundtrack which works well to reflect the emotional state of the character without going overboard. The lack of a lot of spoken word throughout the film has a huge presence and where the speech is absent sound designer Steve Boedeker has very successfully utilised the score to reach right into our core and make us identify with the loneliness of the character.