Thursday, December 26, 2013
Making It Out Alive: The Year in Survival Stories
"There are two ways you can live in Sydney. You can be very rich or have nothing at all. I choose to have nothing at all."
These things are relative, of course: Like politics, all misery is local. Still, I think it’s fair to say that 2013 hasn’t been all that awful, as calendar years go—certainly not in comparison to recent contenders such as 2001 or 2008. And by the standards of 1944 or 1932 or 1916, 2013 has been a yummy butterscotch sundae, topped with whipped cream made from unicorn’s milk and sugary angel-dandruff sprinkles. So here’s my question: Why has the awards-season film schedule been so heavy with brutal survival stories? If it’s not man and woman against the elements, it’s man and woman against evil economic system, or man against sinking boat, or woman against physics. True, Oscar-bait is almost always about a triumph of the human spirit, but not usually quite so nakedly about the human spirit’s sheer will to live. Not that this year’s films are unique: earlier examples of the genre include The Piano, 127 Hours, The Life of Pi, and any number of disease- or affliction-related films. Going further back, Deliverance comes to mind, not to mention every zombie and slasher movie ever made. Coldest Stories