All Is Lost

Last updated

All Is Lost
All is Lost poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by J. C. Chandor
Produced by
Written byJ. C. Chandor
Starring Robert Redford
Music by Alex Ebert
CinematographyFrank G. DeMarco
Edited byPete Beaudreau
Distributed by
Release date
  • May 22, 2013 (2013-05-22)(Cannes)
  • October 25, 2013 (2013-10-25)(North America)
Running time
105 minutes [3]
Budget$8.5 million [5]
Box office$13.6 million [6]

All Is Lost is a 2013 survival drama film written and directed by J. C. Chandor. The film stars Robert Redford as a man lost at sea. [upper-alpha 1] Redford is the only cast member, and the film has very few spoken words. All Is Lost is Chandor's second feature film, following his 2011 debut Margin Call . It screened out of competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.

The survival film is a film genre in which one or more characters make an effort at physical survival. It often overlaps with other film genres. It is a subgenre of the adventure film, along with swashbuckler films, war films, and safari films. Survival films are darker than most other adventure films which usually focus their storyline on a single character, usually the protagonist. The films tend to be "located primarily in a contemporary context" so film audiences are familiar with the setting, meaning the characters' activities are less romanticized.

Jeffrey McDonald Chandor, better known as J. C. Chandor, is an American film director, producer and screenwriter, best known for writing and directing the films Margin Call (2011), All Is Lost (2013), A Most Violent Year (2014) and Triple Frontier (2019).

Robert Redford American actor and film director

Charles Robert Redford Jr. is an American retired actor, director, producer, and businessman. He is the founder of the Sundance Film Festival.


Among many honors, the film was nominated for Academy Award for Best Sound Editing (Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns) and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score (Alex Ebert). Redford was nominated for his own Golden Globe and won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor.

The Academy Award for Best Sound Editing is an Academy Award granted yearly to a film exhibiting the finest or most aesthetic sound design or sound editing. Sound editing is the creation of sound effects. The award is usually received by the Supervising Sound Editors of the film, sometimes accompanied by the Sound Designers.

Steve Boeddeker is a sound editor. Boeddeker and fellow sound editor Richard Hymns were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing for the film All Is Lost (2013).

Richard Hymns is a sound editor. He has won 3 Academy Awards for his work on Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan.


In the Indian Ocean, a man (Robert Redford) wakes to find water flooding his boat. He has collided with a wayward shipping container, ripping a hole in the hull. He uses a sea anchor to dislodge the container, then changes course to tilt the boat away from the hole. He patches the hole and uses the manual bilge pump to remove the water from the cabin.

Indian Ocean The ocean between Africa, Asia, Australia and Antarctica (or the Southern Ocean)

The Indian Ocean is the third-largest of the world's oceanic divisions, covering 70,560,000 km2 (27,240,000 sq mi). It is bounded by Asia on the north, on the west by Africa, on the east by Australia, and on the south by the Southern Ocean or, depending on definition, by Antarctica.

Intermodal container Standardized reusable steel box used for transporting goods

An intermodal container is a large standardized shipping container, designed and built for intermodal freight transport, meaning these containers can be used across different modes of transport – from ship to rail to truck – without unloading and reloading their cargo. Intermodal containers are primarily used to store and transport materials and products efficiently and securely in the global containerized intermodal freight transport system, but smaller numbers are in regional use as well. These containers are known under a number of names, such as simply container, cargo or freight container, ISO container, shipping, sea or ocean container, sea van or (Conex) box, sea can or c can.

Hull (watercraft) watertight body of a ship or boat

A hull is the watertight body of a ship or boat. The hull may open at the top, or it may be fully or partially covered with a deck. Atop the deck may be a deckhouse and other superstructures, such as a funnel, derrick, or mast. The line where the hull meets the water surface is called the waterline.

The boat's navigational and communications systems have been damaged by saltwater intrusion. The man tries to repair the marine radio and connects it to one of the boat's batteries. When he climbs the mast to repair an antenna lead, he sees an oncoming tropical storm. When the storm arrives, he runs before the wind. He intends to heave to, but as he crawls to the bow to hoist the storm jib, he is thrown overboard and regains the deck after a struggle. The boat capsizes, turtles after a further 180-degree roll and is dis-masted, and most of the equipment is destroyed. With the boat badly sinking, the man abandons ship in an inflatable life raft, salvaging whatever he can to survive.

Heaving to Sailing manoeuvre

In sailing, heaving to is a way of slowing a sailboat's forward progress, as well as fixing the helm and sail positions so that the boat does not have to be steered. It is commonly used for a "break"; this may be to wait for the tide before proceeding, or to wait out a strong or contrary wind. For a solo or shorthanded sailor it can provide time to go below deck, to attend to issues elsewhere on the boat or to take a meal break. It is also used as a storm tactic.

Turtling (sailing)

In dinghy sailing, a boat is said to be turtling or to turn turtle when the boat is fully inverted with the mast pointing down to the lake bottom or seabed. The name stems from the appearance of the upside-down boat, similar to the carapace, that is the top shell of a sea turtle. The term can be applied to any vessel; turning turtle is less frequent but more dangerous on ships than on smaller boats. Relative to monohulls, it is more hazardous on multihulls, because of their inherent stability in an inverted position. Measures can be taken to prevent a capsize from becoming a turtle.

As the man learns to operate a sextant, he discovers he is being pulled towards a major shipping lane by ocean currents. He survives another storm but his supplies dwindle, and he learns too late that his drinking water has been contaminated with sea water. He improvises a solar still from his water container and a plastic bag to produce freshwater.

Sextant angle measurement instrument

A sextant is a doubly reflecting navigation instrument that measures the angular distance between two visible objects. The primary use of a sextant is to measure the angle between an astronomical object and the horizon for the purposes of celestial navigation. The estimation of this angle, the altitude, is known as sighting or shooting the object, or taking a sight. The angle, and the time when it was measured, can be used to calculate a position line on a nautical or aeronautical chart—for example, sighting the Sun at noon or Polaris at night to estimate latitude. Sighting the height of a landmark can give a measure of distance off and, held horizontally, a sextant can measure angles between objects for a position on a chart. A sextant can also be used to measure the lunar distance between the moon and another celestial object in order to determine Greenwich Mean Time and hence longitude. The principle of the instrument was first implemented around 1731 by John Hadley (1682–1744) and Thomas Godfrey (1704–1749), but it was also found later in the unpublished writings of Isaac Newton (1643–1727). Additional links can be found to Bartholomew Gosnold (1571–1607) indicating that the use of a sextant for nautical navigation predates Hadley's implementation. In 1922, it was modified for aeronautical navigation by Portuguese navigator and naval officer Gago Coutinho.

Solar still

A solar still distils water with substances dissolved in it by using the heat of the Sun to evaporate water so that it may be cooled and collected, thereby purifying it. They are used in areas where drinking water is unavailable, so that clean water is obtained from dirty water or from plants by exposing them to sunlight.

The man is passed by two container ships, which do not see him, despite his use of signaling flares. He drifts out of the shipping lane with no food or water. On the eighth day, he writes a letter, puts it in a jar, and throws it in the ocean as a message in a bottle. Later that night, he sees a light in the distance. He tears pages from his journal along with charts to create a signal fire. The fire grows out of control and consumes his raft. He falls into the water and allows himself to sink. Underwater, he sees the hull of a boat with a search light approaching his burning raft. He swims towards the surface to grasp an outstretched hand.

Container ship cargo ship

Container ships are cargo ships that carry all of their load in truck-size intermodal containers, in a technique called containerization. They are a common means of commercial intermodal freight transport and now carry most seagoing non-bulk cargo.

Message in a bottle A form of communication in which a written message sealed in a container is released into the conveyance medium

A message in a bottle is a form of communication in which a message is sealed in a container and released into a conveyance medium.



All Is Lost was written and directed by J. C. Chandor, his second feature film, following 2011's Margin Call . During his time commuting from Providence, Rhode Island to New York City, Chandor developed the idea for All Is Lost. [8] After meeting Robert Redford at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival where Margin Call premiered, Chandor asked the veteran actor to be in the film. On February 9, 2012, Redford's casting was confirmed for All Is Lost as its only cast member. [9] In addition to there being only one actor in the film, Redford also stated that the film has no dialogue, although there are a few spoken lines. [10] For these reasons, the shooting script was only 31 pages long. [8]


Principal photography began in mid-2012 at Baja Studios in Rosarito Beach in Mexico. Baja Studios was originally built for the 1997 film Titanic . [9] Filming took place for two months in the location's water tank. [11] In addition the crew spent "two or three days" filming in the actual ocean. [12] Chandor would later remark that completing the film was "essentially a jigsaw puzzle" [12] and that the crew spent less time on the actual ocean than the film would have viewers believe. [12] At a press conference after the film's screening at Cannes 2013, Redford revealed that his ear was damaged during the production. [13]


The film score to All Is Lost is composed by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' frontman Alex Ebert, who signed on to the film in November 2012. [14] Speaking of the experience of working on the film, Ebert said, "This project was a dream—an open space to play in but also space to listen to the elements—wind, water, rain, sun, are the story's other characters to me. I knew I had quite a task ahead of me: to at once allow the elements to sing and to give Redford a voice with which to, once in a while, respond." [15] The "extra features" of the Blu-ray Disc explain the unique development of the sound track, music, script and other production considerations.

A soundtrack album featuring ten original compositions and one new song all written, composed, and produced by Ebert was released on October 1, 2013 by Community Music. [16] On September 12, 2013, the song "Amen" from the soundtrack was made available for streaming. [17]


All Is Lost screened out of competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival on May 22. [18] The film was distributed theatrically by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions jointly in the United States. [19] FilmNation Entertainment handled foreign sales for the film. In February 2012, Universal Pictures purchased distribution of the film for the UK, Australia, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, South Korea, Russia and Scandinavia. Other deals were made with HGC in China, Square One Entertainment in Germany, Sun Distribution in Latin America, Paris Filmes in Brazil, Audio Visual Entertainment in Greece and Pony Canyon in Japan. [20] It began a limited release in the United States on October 18, 2013.


Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 94% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 219 reviews; the average score is 8/10. The site's consensus states: "Anchored by another tremendous performance in a career full of them, All Is Lost offers a moving, eminently worthwhile testament to Robert Redford's ability to hold the screen." [21] On Metacritic the film has a score of 87 based on 45 reviews, considered to be "universal acclaim". [22]

After the screening of the film at the Cannes Film Festival, Redford received a standing ovation. [23] Writing for The Independent , Geoffrey Macnab said the film was "utterly compelling viewing". [24] Andrew Pulver, writing for The Guardian , said that "Redford delivers a tour de force performance: holding the screen effortlessly with no acting support whatsoever." [25] Justin Chang of Variety said of Redford's performance that he "holds the viewer's attention merely by wincing, scowling, troubleshooting and yelling the occasional expletive". [26] Robbie Collin of The Telegraph said, "The film's scope is limited, but as far as it goes, All Is Lost is very good indeed: a neat idea, very nimbly executed." [27]

Conveying Peter Bradshaw's review, The Guardian said, "Redford's near-mute performance as a mysterious old man of the sea adrift and utterly alone makes for a bold, gripping thriller." Having spotted a possible metaphor, Bradshaw concludes: "What a strikingly bold and thoughtful film." [28] Alan Scherstuhl of The Village Voice writes that the film is "a genuine nail-biter, scrupulously made and fully involving, elemental in its simplicity." [29] David Morgan of CBS News gave the film a positive review, stating, "Four decades ago Redford demonstrated a similar capacity for survival skills as the mountain man Jeremiah Johnson. Today, at age 77, without a supporting cast and performing virtually all of his water stunts himself, Redford proves he is still up to the task, shining in what is an extremely physical but also an intellectually demanding role." [30]

However, the film has been criticized in the sailing world for being unrealistic, in particular for the lack of certain safety equipment deemed standard for sailboats navigating the open ocean such as an EPIRB, and other bad decisions of the main character. [31] [32] [33] An exception to this criticism is English Yachting Monthly , for which Dick Durham claimed: "Certainly the film is authentic and grippingly realistic." [34] Director Chandor himself, who says he went sailing with his parents when young and later a few times as an adult, stated in an interview with German sailing magazine Segeln that everything that happened in the film could have happened in reality. His only reservations were the probability of crossing the Indian Ocean single-handed and of not evading the storm with modern technology and due attention. [35]

Top ten lists

All Is Lost was listed on many critics' top ten lists. [36]


AwardCategoryRecipients and nomineesResult
AARP Annual Movies for Grownups Awards [37] Judge's Award for Extraordinary MeritAll is LostWon
86th Academy Awards Best Sound Editing Steve Boeddeker, Richard Hymns Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Actor Robert Redford Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards Best Actor Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society [38] Best ActorNominated
2013 Deauville American Film Festival [39] Prix du Jury (Jury Special Prize) J. C. Chandor Won
71st Golden Globe Awards [40] [41] Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama Robert RedfordNominated
Best Original Score Alex Ebert Won
Gotham Awards [42] Best ActorRobert RedfordNominated
Independent Spirit Awards [43] Best Feature Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb, J. C. Chandor Nominated
Best Director J. C. Chandor Nominated
Best Male Lead Robert Redford Nominated
Best Cinematography Frank G. DeMarcoNominated
Motion Picture Sound Editors Golden Reel Awards [44] [45] Best Sound Editing: Sound Effects & Foley in a Feature FilmRichard Hymns, Steve BoeddekerNominated
New York Film Critics Circle [46] Best Actor Robert RedfordWon
Phoenix Film Critics Society [47] Best Actor in a Leading RoleNominated
San Francisco Film Critics Circle Best Actor Nominated
Best EditingPete BeaudreauNominated
Satellite Awards [48] Best Motion Picture Neal Dodson, Anna Gerb, J. C. Chandor Nominated
Best Actor – Motion Picture Robert RedfordNominated
Best Sound (Editing and Mixing) Brandon Proctor, Richard Hymns, Steve BoeddekerNominated
Best Visual Effects Brendon O'Dell, Collin Davies, Robert MunroeNominated
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association [49] Best Actor Robert RedfordNominated

See also


  1. Redford is credited as "Our Man", but the character is not named in the film. [7]

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