Latest In


Top 10 Best Movies About Survival Of All Time

Movies about survival have a special way of showing us people who face really tough situations. These situations test how strong and determined they are. Some movies are about people trying to survive in really harsh environments, like the freezing Arctic or the scorching Sahara desert, and they are often based on true stories.

Cecilia Jones
Nov 30, 202383 Shares20757 Views
Movies about survivalhave a special way of showing us people who face really tough situations. These situations test how strong and determined they are. Some movies are about people trying to survive in really harsh environments, like the freezing Arctic or the scorching Sahara desert, and they are often based on true stories. Let's take a look at some of the best movies about survival.

Cast Away (2000)

The poster of the movie Cast Away
The poster of the movie Cast Away
The pinnacle of the desert island genre is undoubtedly Tom Hanks' remarkable performance in the two-and-a-half-hour one-man show, "Cast Away." However, when Hanks embarked on this cinematic journey in the year 2000, he harbored concerns about the clichés associated with such a premise.
He stated, "There is a standard way of telling this story, where a wealthy and self-absorbed individual who is disconnected from what truly matters learns a life-altering lesson and undergoes a transformation. But Chuck, our protagonist, doesn't follow that conventional path." Instead, the film delves into the gritty aspects of survival, as Hanks further elaborated.
The screenwriter, William J. Boyle, took an unconventional approach by immersing himself in a remote region of Mexico for days. Many of his real-life experiences, including the development of an unlikely friendship with a volleyball and the arduous struggle to create fire, found their way into the film. It's a rarity to encounter writers who embrace method acting to this extent, but it ultimately contributes to a movie that exudes authenticity.
The emotional dimension of the film also strikes a chord. For those familiar with the reality series "Alone," it becomes evident that contestants who excel in survival skills are often the ones yearning for rescue the most. Once their basic physical needs are met, it is the isolation that exacts the heaviest toll. Desert island survival transcends mere physical challenges; it is, as Boyle aptly stated, an ordeal that encompasses emotional and spiritual dimensions.

Rescue Dawn (2006)

The poster of the movie Rescue Dawn
The poster of the movie Rescue Dawn
If war is described as hell, then being a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict was akin to descending into the ninth circle of that inferno. "Rescue Dawn" narrates the harrowing true story of Dieter Dengler, an American Navy pilot whose plane was shot down over Laos in 1966.
For five grueling months, he endured unimaginable torture in a Viet Cong POW camp. However, on July 4th, a day that symbolizes freedom for Americans, he and four fellow captives made a daring escape, without shoes or supplies, setting off on a treacherous journey through a dense, unforgiving jungle in a bid for salvation.
Warner Herzog, renowned for his work on the 2006 film, had previously explored Dengler's life in his haunting 1997 documentary, "Little Dieter Needs to Fly." This documentary delves into the pilot's early experiences, including witnessing the devastation of World War II and his unwavering determination to become a pilot.
Herzog, celebrated for his documentary "Grizzly Man," is arguably one of the greatest living documentarians, and he brings his keen observational skills to the forefront in this dramatized account. Christian Bale's portrayal of Dieter is nothing short of remarkable.
Given Herzog's penchant for allowing his subjects to authentically narrate their stories, it's evident that the director granted this renowned Hollywood superstar ample creative freedom to immerse himself fully in the arduous trials of this extraordinary man. Bale and Herzog collaborate to convey Dieter's anguish, making you intimately feel his pain and perseverance.

The Martian (2015)

The poster of the movie The Martian
The poster of the movie The Martian
In Ridley Scott's outstanding 2015 Mars survival film, we follow the gripping tale of Mark Watney, portrayed by Matt Damon, who becomes stranded on the desolate Martian surface, presumed dead by his NASA colleagues. However, when NASA realizes they've inadvertently abandoned one of their own, a rescue mission is set in motion. Meanwhile, Watney faces the daunting challenge of employing his scientific prowess to ensure his survival during nearly two years of isolation on the unforgiving red planet.
"The Martian" is an adaptation of Andy Weir's meticulously researched science fiction novel. Like all exceptional survival narratives, the heart of the story lies in the meticulous attention to life-sustaining details. Weir, a self-professed science enthusiast with a deep passion for chemistry, skillfully integrates his interests into the narrative without delving into tedious technicalities.
Interestingly, Weir initially released the book for free online, later selling it on Amazon for just 99 cents. The positive response was overwhelming, catapulting him into a legitimate book deal and securing a movie adaptation in a matter of days, as reported by Business Insider.
While Weir had minimal involvement in the movie's production, Ridley Scott's film admirably embraces the technical intricacies that made the original work such a cult sensation. In an era where the prospect of human astronauts setting foot on and inhabiting Mars is becoming increasingly plausible, having a resourceful problem-solver like Mark Watney may prove invaluable.

12 Years A Slave (2013)

The poster of the movie 12 Years A Slave
The poster of the movie 12 Years A Slave
"Much like 'The Shawshank Redemption,' '12 Years A Slave' delves deeply into the survival of the spirit, not just the physical body. The resounding battle cry of Solomon Northup (portrayed by Chiwetel Ejiofor) echoes with resilience: 'I will survive.
I will not fall into despair. I will keep myself hardy until freedom is opportune.' Northup, a free-born Black man, finds himself abducted and thrust into the brutal world of slavery, under the merciless rule of a master of human chattel portrayed unflinchingly by Michael Fassbender.
Steve McQueen's Oscar-winning film draws its inspiration from Northup's 1853 memoir of the same name. While certain details may have been altered, the core narrative of this indomitable man remains true.
Northup, an accomplished violinist living in upstate New York just before the Civil War, becomes ensnared by slavers, only to eventually find his path to freedom with the assistance of a compassionate Canadian abolitionist named Samuel Bass (played by Brad Pitt in the film). Like other cinematic classics such as 'Roots,' 'Glory,' or 'Lincoln,' this film stands as a pivotal portrayal of American slavery, encapsulating both the finest and darkest aspects of humanity."

Into The Wild (2007)

The poster of the movie Into The Wild
The poster of the movie Into The Wild
"Into The Wild" explores the journey of a young idealist who rejects conventional society but leaves a lasting impact on everyone he encounters. This cinematic masterpiece, based on Jon Krakauer's 1996 non-fiction book, which in turn draws from an extensive essay by Chris McCandless, tells the tale of McCandless, an adventurous wanderer and academic overachiever who becomes strangely captivated by the writings of romantic authors like Henry David Thoreau.
In the 2007 film adaptation directed by Sean Penn, McCandless, portrayed by Emile Hirsch, emerges as a man estranged from his family, transforming into a post-graduate intellectual who believes he has unearthed the ultimate path to enlightenment. He possesses the intellect of a scholar and the spirit of a nomad, embarking on a solitary quest into the wilderness of Alaska to distance himself from the perceived ills of society. In his solitude, he discovers that it is the connections he left behind that truly give life its meaning.
What makes Hirsch's portrayal of McCandless so captivating is his charismatic presence. Everywhere he roams, he is sought after and adored. He forms profound connections with a farmer (played by Vince Vaughn), becomes the object of unrequited affection for a young woman in a commune (portrayed by Kristen Stewart), and takes on the role of a quasi-adopted grandson to a lonely elderly man (brought to life by Hal Holbrook).

Gravity (2013)

The poster of the movie Gravity
The poster of the movie Gravity
"Gravity" can be likened to an explosive Rube Goldberg device continually morphing into breathtaking new forms. It stands as one of the most remarkable feats of visual storytelling ever captured on film, earning director Alfonso Cuarón and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki well-deserved Oscars in 2014.
In this cinematic masterpiece, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney take on the roles of astronauts servicing the Hubble telescope. Their mission takes a perilous turn when a satellite collision triggers the creation of an ever-expanding debris field hurtling around Earth at breakneck speeds. The ingenious screenplay, penned by Cuarón and his son Jonás Cuarón, had to wait over four years for the technology to catch up with their ambitious vision.
"Gravity" draws on motion capture innovations reminiscent of James Cameron's "Avatar," enabling the creation of unbroken, immersive shots that keep viewers tightly tethered to Bullock's character as she navigates through a relentless series of crises. Remarkably, the entire film comprises just 157 distinct shots, with each shot lingering for an average of 40 seconds - shattering the typical Hollywood norm of a mere three-second shot duration. Lubezki's camera work rarely blinks, ensnaring audiences in a stomach-churning two-hour freefall that stands as an astonishing triumph of cinematic craftsmanship.

The Revenant (2015)

The poster of the movie The Revenant
The poster of the movie The Revenant
The term "revenant" signifies a return from the brink of death, and "The Revenant" unfolds as the harrowing tale of frontiersman Hugh Glass, portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio. After a brutal bear attack and being left for dead, Glass miraculously survives and embarks on a quest for vengeance against a fellow trapper, played by Tom Hardy.
Alejandro González Iñárritu, the director behind the Oscar-winning "Birdman," followed up his triumph with this equally mesmerizing masterpiece. Once again, he collaborated with the brilliant cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, known for his work on "Gravity."
Lubezki captured the entire film using only available light, predominantly during the magical "golden hour," that fleeting period of ambient illumination just after sunset. Filmmakers like Terrence Malick have long favored this gentle lighting, which essentially transforms the entire Earth's atmosphere into a colossal bounce board.
However, this artistic choice comes with its challenges, turning the production into an arduous endeavor. Temperatures in the Canadian wilderness where they filmed plummeted to a bone-chilling 40 degrees below zero. The film's budget skyrocketed, forcing Iñárritu and his team to relocate to South America when conditions became too extreme.
Reflecting on the experience, the director candidly shared with The Wrap, "There's absolutely nothing that I kept in my pockets - that's all that I've got to give. It almost killed me, too... maybe having died and been reborn many times during the shooting, I feel extraordinarily proud." "The Revenant" stands as a testament to filmmaking at its most audacious, vivid, and breathtakingly beautiful.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

The poster of the movie The Shawshank Redemption
The poster of the movie The Shawshank Redemption
"The Shawshank Redemption" stands as the ultimate testament to the resilience of the human spirit. Tim Robbins delivers a career-defining performance as the indomitable Andy Dufresne, a man unjustly convicted of murdering his wife and sentenced to the harsh and corrupt Shawshank penitentiary. Within the prison's demoralizing confines, Andy becomes an inspiration to his fellow inmates, particularly Red, portrayed by the legendary Morgan Freeman, and a small group of others, reminding them that a world exists beyond the prison's bleak walls.
This cinematic gem is adapted from Stephen King's novella "Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption." While it involves a daring escape, the heart of the story lies in Andy's courageous struggle to keep his soul alive amidst the direst of circumstances. Released in 1994, this film stands as the pinnacle of adaptations of King's literary works and garnered a well-deserved array of Oscar nominations in 1995.
Intriguingly, when it comes to casting, it's worth noting that Brad Pitt was initially lined up to portray Tommy, the illiterate young convict who benefits from Andy's mentorship. However, Pitt decided to pursue a different path after his breakthrough role in "Thelma and Louise," ultimately opting for a leading role in "Interview With A Vampire," a solid but far less influential film in comparison.

This Is The End (2013)

The poster of the movie This Is The End
The poster of the movie This Is The End
Blockbuster movie premieres can often be a bit of a letdown for the press. We find ourselves waiting for hours, lining up along the red carpet, hoping for a brief opportunity to shout questions to movie stars who are typically on a tight schedule, making a beeline for the E! network cameras. It's nobody's fault really; if celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio or Brad Pitt were to stop for every eager blogger, their movie premiere would never happen.
However, there was a refreshing exception to this routine with the release of "This Is The End" in 2013. The film's writer-director, Seth Rogen, along with the cast, took the time to engage with reporters and even extended an invitation to the screening at a cozy little theater in lower Manhattan. The result was 147 minutes of uproarious laughter, with Rogen's famously deep chortle ringing out above the chaotic sounds of the apocalyptic end of the world depicted in the film.
Yes, Seth Rogen goes to see his own movies and laughs heartily, even at himself. And in this case, it was entirely justified. Rogen, along with Jonah Hill, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and James Franco, portrays exaggerated versions of themselves, navigating a biblical end-of-days scenario descending upon Los Angeles. The way Rogen's script creatively dispatches stars like Aziz Ansari, Michael Cera, Rihanna, and many others is delightfully twisted.
The subsequent frat-house humor, including McBride's role as a cannibal warlord, is exactly what you'd expect from this talented ensemble. Laughter is contagious, so maybe Rogen's own infectious laughter tricked us, but upon repeat viewings, this survival comedy set against the backdrop of Armageddon delivers laughs in every way imaginable.

127 Hours (2010)

The poster of the movie 127 Hours
The poster of the movie 127 Hours
"127 Hours" recounts the incredible true story of Aron Ralston, a 27-year-old climber who found himself in a dire predicament while canyoneering in Utah. Ralston's reckless decision not to inform anyone of his whereabouts left him with no hope of rescue when his arm became trapped between two rocks. For five agonizing days, he was immobilized until he reached the grim realization that the only way to ensure his survival was to amputate his own arm.
In Danny Boyle's remarkable 2010 film, starring James Franco, the challenge lay in capturing the drama of a story where the central character is physically immobilized. While the narrative features moments of palpable tension, such as a flash flood that nearly drowns Ralston, the true essence of the tale lies in the internal journey. It is the combination of exposure, desperation, and spiritual delirium that drives the protagonist to the point of absolute desperation, compelling him to undertake the gruesome, life-saving operation.


Movies about survival are not only exciting but also show us how regular people can do incredible things when they're faced with big challenges. Whether it's battling tough conditions, getting past really big problems, or fighting against time itself, these stories of survival touch the hearts of people all over the world. As we enjoy these amazing survival stories on the screen, we're reminded of the incredible strength of the human spirit and why we love these extraordinary tales in the movies.
Jump to
Latest Articles
Popular Articles