Cast Away (2000) Ending Explained & Film Analysis

A film about loneliness, love and hope: the hidden meaning. Cast Away (2000): plot, is the film based on real events, meaning, explanation of the ending

Country: USA

Genre: Drama, Romance, Adventure

Year of production: 2000

Director: Robert Zemeckis

Actors: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Chris Noth

tagline: “At the edge of the world, his journey begins”

Awards and Nominations: 2001 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor

The plot of Cast Away isn’t exactly original – in a nutshell, it’s a movie about survival. Still, the picture of Zemeckis is deeper than it seems at first glance.

Cast Away is an existential drama with subtle hidden meanings. This is a film about loneliness, love and hope.

Is the movie based on real events?

The movie Cast Away is not based on real events. It’s just another loose interpretation of Robinson Crusoe. And the book, in turn, was an artistic retelling of the adventures of the sailor Alexander Selkirk.

Plot Summary of Cast Away

Brief description of the content of the film Cast Away. The main character of the picture, Chuck Noland, works as a postman. While at work, he experiences a plane crash and ends up on a desert island.

The hero understands that he is here for a long time, and decides to somehow arrange his life. An ardent perfectionist, in love with his work, Chuck, even on a desert island, remains true to corporate ethics: for a long time he does not dare to open the first parcel he comes across.

Tom HanksThe role of Chuck Noland was played by Tom Hanks. Frame from the film.

In the end, he makes a deal with his conscience: he decides to put this package aside and, upon returning home, deliver at least it. He opens the rest of the packages.

In one of the parcels, Chuck comes across a volleyball, which he names Wilson, and which becomes his silent listener and friend.

Noland cannot leave the island because of the powerful surf. Unable to contact the rescuers and build a boat, he spends four years on the island. After this time, the sea brings a piece of a toilet stall to the shores of the island, and Chuck uses it as a means to overcome the surf – as a sail.

The hero builds a raft and goes to sea. A storm soon breaks out in which he loses Wilson and is rescued by a freighter a few days later.

Returning home, Chuck realizes that everything has changed – in particular, his fiancee has married their mutual friend, and has already given birth to a child. The hero understands that his life has changed forever, but does not yet know in which direction he should go.

delivered packageFrame from the film.

In the finale, Chuck takes the same unopened package to the address, and meets a woman, after whose conversation he understands that nothing happens by chance, and there was a special meaning in his four-year stay on the island …

Cast Away ending explanation

The meaning of the ending of the film Cast Away seems very simple, if you do not know that the film originally had a different ending.

The woman to whom Chuck hands the package opens it in front of him and pulls out a satellite phone with a dead battery. That is, the explanation of the ending could be as follows: no desire to follow corporate ethics can be higher than human life. The point was that Chuck went on principle and refused to open even one package. But if he had opened it, everything would have been different: he would have used the phone and they would have found him …

According to one interpretation, the FEDEX company, which was the sponsor of the picture, demanded to remove such an ending. As a result, the end of the film Cast Away turned out to be very Hollywood and very simple, although positive.

The meaning of the film Cast Away

What do we know about Chuck? He is a man who is fanatically devoted to his work. He loves accuracy and punctuality to the extreme. For the first time, the viewer sees him in a mise-en-scene with the setting of the clock, in which a brief description of the hero is given. He is ruthless to himself and wants to see the same perfectionist workaholics in his company.

He wants to control absolutely all processes and every minute of life – both his own and those around him. But a person can control a fairly small part of his life: external circumstances, as if you say it, most often cannot be predicted. Their flow is nothing more than hope, which can become some kind of illusion of reality.

The desire for control is not just a Chuck Noland need. The whole society is infected with this idea. The need for accuracy and regularity is trying to take an increasingly significant step in our lives.

It seems to be quite justified: by controlling external circumstances, a person, in a sense, also controls time. “Time is money”. Who in their right mind would want to lose even a cent from their pocket? No one – especially if these very cents are obtained by someone else’s labor.

All life in society strives for mechanical predictability – like the hand of a clock. The most important thing is that everything goes according to a pre-planned plan.

Helen HuntThe role of Kelly was played by actress Helen Hunt. Frame from the film.

At some point, when a person is convinced that he actually controls something, he loses flexibility and begins to see the world not as he really is, but as he wants to see it. Thinking he has control, in reality he begins to lose it.


In their analysis, viewers note Chuck’s interesting attitude towards Wilson. An ordinary volleyball … It hardly plays a serious role in the life of a simple layman. But Chuck, being isolated on the island, literally humanized him. The ball became the most important part of his life.

This is quite rational: why not invent a “Friday” for yourself to keep your spirits up – a friend with whom you can talk about life? This allows you to save not only the mind, but also a lively speech, and also – to try to improvise a certain society.

The picture is called Cast Away, and not, for example, “The Hermit”. The difference between these two words is enormous. As it turned out, the most important thing is to maintain a balance: you can’t cross the line and believe in something that doesn’t exist. Otherwise, a person risks losing a sense of reality. Having crossed this line, he is able to lose his mind and even his life – this is exactly what almost happened to Chuck when, after escaping from the island, he swam after Wilson.

At the very beginning, Chuck half-jokingly decided to make an imaginary friend out of the ball. He was bored and he spoke to him. Then the ball became quite a significant part of his life. In the end, the hero forgot that Wilson is just a ball…

Ball WilsonFrame from the film.

The clue is that at first Chuck controlled his imagination. Unfortunately, he did not notice how his imagination gradually began to control him. The bottom line is that even in relation to our own thoughts, we must not forget that they belong to us, and not vice versa. Understanding this gives us the necessary control.


Analyzing the essence of the film, it should be understood that the Island is a consequence of an unforeseen reason or an insurmountable circumstance that interferes with all plans.

This is an expression of those possible thousands of circumstances (both positive and negative) that a person is not able to control – simply because he may not know about them.

Chuck image

Perfectionist Chuck behaves sometimes strange and irresponsible. For example, he promises a friend to introduce him to a good doctor who can save his wife, but forgets about it. He gives the bride a ring and promises to be at home on New Year’s Eve, but breaks this promise too. I wanted to go to the dentist – it didn’t work out …

If the delay of the car for a couple of minutes depresses the hero, then what can we say about the vital need to open the parcels of our customers!

Noland was so fanatical about being a postman that at some point he forgot who he was: on a desert island, he can no longer fulfill his duties. Therefore, he is not a postman. Then who?..

Your profession is not yourself. Having lost her, Chuck continued to live. If the opposite happened, Chuck, accordingly, would not be able to do his favorite job. Probably something to keep in mind at all times.

inscription on the rockFrame from the film.

Man is created by society. There is no person without society. This is the main task of the individual: to find their individuality and find their place in society.

The tragedy lies in the fact that not everyone copes with this task, not everyone finds the meaning of life, not everyone knows how to find harmony and balance between their hypostases.

The film Cast Away shows the tragedy of a man who could not find a balance in his life, and did not find meaning in life. After all, it is difficult to call the punctuality of the postman the meaning of life.

Similar films

Here are a few pictures that are similar in meaning to Cast Away with Tom Hanks:

  • “Life of Pi” (USA, Taiwan, India, 2012). A young man named Pi survives a shipwreck. In hope of being rescued, he drifts in the open ocean in the company of a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker;
  • 127 hours” (UK, USA, France, 2010). An experienced climber is trapped in an ice cave. His confrontation with the harsh nature begins;
  • Into the Wild” (USA, 2007). A successful young man at some point drops everything and goes to Alaska. There he learns several important life lessons.


Add a comment

  1. Ahmed

    Really inspiring; this movie open our eyes on how to appreciate life and to expect that anything can happen within a few also teaches us not to lose hope even with extremely bad situations..