Survival film

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.[1] 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.[2]

In a 1988 book, Thomas Sobchack compared the survival film to romance: "They both emphasize the heroic triumph over obstacles which threaten social order and the reaffirmation of predominant social values such as fair play and respect for merit and cooperation."[2] The author said survival films "identify and isolate a microcosm of society", such as the surviving group from the plane crash in The Flight of the Phoenix (1965) or those on the overturned ocean liner in The Poseidon Adventure (1972). Sobchack explained, "Most of the time in a survival film is spent depicting the process whereby the group, cut off from the securities and certainties of the ordinary support networks of civilized life, forms itself into a functioning, effective unit." The group often varies in types of characters, sometimes to the point of caricature. While women have historically been stereotyped in such films, they "often play a decisive role in the success or failure of the group".[3]

List of films

Film Year Ref.
The 33 2015 [4]
127 Hours 2010 [5]
Against the Sun 2014 [6]
Alive 1993 [7]
All Is Lost 2013 [8]
Antarctica 1983 [9]
Apocalypto 2006 [10]
Apollo 13 1995 [11]
Arctic 2018 [12]
Back from Eternity 1956 [13]
Buried 2010 [5]
Captain Phillips 2013 [14]
Cast Away 2000 [5]
Centurion 2010 [15]
The Deep 2012 [16]
Deliverance 1972 [7]
The Donner Party 2009 [17]
Dunkirk 2017 [5]
The Eagle 2011 [18]
The Edge 1997 [7]
Eight Below 2006 [19]
Escape from Alcatraz 1979 [20]
Everest 2015 [21]
Five Came Back 1939 [13]
The Flight of the Phoenix 1965 [3]
Gravity 2013 [14]
The Grey 2011 [22]
Hidalgo 2004 [23]
A Hijacking 2012 [11]
The Impossible 2012 [24]
In the Heart of the Sea 2015 [25]
Inferno 1953 [13]
Into the Wild 2007 [5]
Iron Will 1994 [26]
Jeremiah Johnson 1971 [27]
The Last Descent 2016 [28]
Life of Pi 2012 [29]
Lifeboat 1944 [30]
Lone Survivor 2013 [14]
Lord of the Flies 1963 [13]
Lost in the Desert 1969/1970 [31]
Marooned 1969 [30]
The Martian 2015 [32]
Man in the Wilderness 1971 [30]
Meek's Cutoff 2010 [27]
Moon 2009 [33]
My Side of the Mountain 1969 [13]
The Naked Prey 1965 [30]
No Blade of Grass 1970 [13]
Nobody Wants the Night 2015 [34]
The Omega Man 1971 [30]
On the Beach 1959 [30]
Open Water 2003 [5]
Panic in Year Zero! 1962 [30]
Planet of the Apes 1968 [30]
The Poseidon Adventure 1972 [3]
Quest for Fire 1981 [5]
Rabbit-Proof Fence 2002 [5]
Rescue Dawn 2006 [5]
The Revenant 2015 [35]
The Road 2009 [11]
Robinson Crusoe 1954 [13]
Robinson Crusoe 1997 [36]
Robinson Crusoe on Mars 1965 [37]
Sanctum 2011 [38]
Sands of the Kalahari 1965 [30]
The Savage Is Loose 1974 [30]
The Secret Land 1948 [13]
Seven Waves Away 1957 [11]
Shackleton 2001 [39]
The Shallows 2016 [40]
Southern Comfort 1981 [27]
Soylent Green 1973 [30]
Stranded: I've Come from a Plane that Crashed in the Mountains 2007 [11]
Survival Quest 1989 [7]
Swiss Family Robinson 1960 [22]
Teenage Caveman 1958 [30]
Touching the Void 2003 [5]
The Ultimate Warrior 1975 [41]
Valhalla Rising 2009 [42]
The War Game 1965 [30]
Walkabout 1971 [11]
The Way Back 2010 [5]
The World, the Flesh and the Devil 1959 [30]
Z.P.G. 1972 [30]

See also


  1. ^ Sobchack 1988, p. 12
  2. ^ a b Sobchack 1988, p. 14
  3. ^ a b c Sobchack 1988, p. 15
  4. ^ Long, Tom (November 13, 2015). "Review: 'The 33,' true story of struggle for survival". The Detroit News. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Staff (January 23, 2012). "The 10 Best Survival Movies". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  6. ^ Laskin, Nicholas (November 18, 2014). "Watch: Trailer For WWII Survival Film 'Against The Sun' Starring Garret Dillahunt, Tom Felton, Jake Abel". The Playlist. Indiewire. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  7. ^ a b c d Ferguson, Lee (November 12, 2010). "127 Hours and five other great survival movies". CBC News. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  8. ^ Savage, Sophia (August 7, 2012). "First Look at J.C. Chandor's 'All is Lost' with Robert Redford". Thompson on Hollywood. indieWire. Archived from the original on August 19, 2012. Retrieved September 24, 2012.
  9. ^ "Berlinale: 1984 Programme". Retrieved 2011-01-04.
  10. ^ "Mel Gibson's Maya". Archaeology. 60 (1). January–February 2007.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Staff (October 17, 2013). "20 Survival Films That Will Take You Into The Abyss". The Playlist. Indiewire. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  12. ^ Barraclough, Leo (May 22, 2017). "Mads Mikkelsen on Surviving the Polar Wilderness in 'Arctic'". Variety. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Fristoe, Roger (December 22, 2017). "Survival Movies: Fridays in January". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  14. ^ a b c McGrath, Charles (November 1, 2013). "Tales of Danger for You to Survive". The New York Times. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  15. ^ Ford, Coreena (22 March 2009). "Neil's back into battle". Sunday Sun. Retrieved 25 March 2009.
  16. ^ Kaufman, Amy (September 3, 2015). "Fall Movie Guide: Making 'Everest' was a tall order for filmmakers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  17. ^ Voeller, Carey R. (2009). "'A man is a fool who prefers poor California beef to human flesh': (Re)Definitions of Masculinity in Nineteenth-Century US Donner Party Literature". Western American Literature. 44 (3): 219.
  18. ^ Stuart Kemp (25 August 2009). "'Eagle of the Ninth' adds cast". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 26 August 2009.
  19. ^ French, Philip (April 23, 2006). "Eight Below". The Guardian. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  20. ^ Vanhala, Helena (2011). "International Terrorism and the Commercial Hollywood Film Industry". The Depiction of Terrorists in Blockbuster Hollywood Films, 1980-2001: An Analytical Study. McFarland. p. 105. ISBN 978-0-7864-3662-0.
  21. ^ Adams, Sam (September 2, 2015). "First Reviews of 'Everest': Stunning Spectacle, So-So Drama". Criticwire. Indiewire. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  22. ^ a b Guzman, Rafer (January 27, 2012). "Survivor films: Which live, which die – and why?". The Sacramento Bee.
  23. ^ Basha O'Reilly, "Hidalgo - from myth to movie", The Longriders Guild
  24. ^ Topel, Fred (November 6, 2012). "AFI 2012 Review: The Impossible". CraveOnline Media, LLC. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  25. ^ Chang, Justin (December 2, 2015). "Film Review: 'In the Heart of the Sea'". Variety. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  26. ^ "Iron Will"., Inc.
  27. ^ a b c Mertes, Micah (November 1, 2013). "The 10 best survival movies". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  28. ^ Jones, Morgan. "Utah Nutty Putty Cave accident to be depicted in new film, 'The Last Descent'". Desert News. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  29. ^ Holden, Ed (December 19, 2012). "Life of Pi review". MSN Movies. MSN. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Yacowar, Maurice (2003). "The Bug in the Rug". In Grant, Barry Keith (ed.). Film Genre Reader III. University of Texas Press. pp. 281–282. ISBN 978-0-292-70185-4.
  31. ^ "LOST IN THE DESERT @ The Cinefamily: The Passion of the Dirkie". Planet Of The Nerds. 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  32. ^ Gettell, Oliver (June 8, 2015). "'The Martian' trailer: Matt Damon is lost in space (again)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  33. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (5 May 2008). "Sony lands 'Moon' rights". Variety. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  34. ^ Roddy, Michael (February 5, 2015). "Arctic survival film, from female perspective, kicks off Berlin fest". Reuters. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  35. ^ Bahr, Lindsey (January 11, 2016). "'Martian,' 'Revenant' get awards boost with top Globes wins". Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 11, 2016. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  36. ^ Brosnan, Pierce. "Robinson Crusoe". Internet Archive. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  37. ^ Leskosky, Richard J. (February 2, 2014). "A new film genre: Solitary survival". The News-Gazette. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  38. ^ Burr, Ty (February 4, 2011). "Sanctum". The Boston Globe.
  39. ^ "Golden Globe Awards". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. 2003. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  40. ^ Stolworthy, Jacob (June 9, 2016). "The Shallows could be the shark film all horror fans have been waiting for since Jaws". The Independent. Retrieved April 6, 2017.
  41. ^ Shapiro, Jerome F. (2001). Atomic Bomb Cinema: The Apocalyptic Imagination on Film. Routledge. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-415-93660-6.
  42. ^ Harkness, Alistair (1 May 2010). "Film Review: Valhalla Rising". The Scotsman. Edinburgh.


  • Sobchack, Thomas (1988). "The Adventure Film". In Gehring, Wes D (ed.). Handbook of American Film Genres. Greenwood. ISBN 978-0-313-24715-6.
Adventure film

Adventure films are a genre of film that typically use their action scenes to display and explore exotic locations in an energetic way.

Alaska (1996 film)

Alaska is a 1996 American adventure survival film directed by Fraser Clarke Heston and produced by Andy Burg. The story, written by Burg and Scott Myers, centers on two children who search through the Alaskan wilderness for their lost father. During their journey they find a polar bear that helps lead them to their father. However, a poacher with a desire to capture the bear follows close behind the kids and the polar bear. The movie was filmed primarily in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia in Canada and the city of Vancouver. The film was a box office bomb, grossing only $11,829,959 over a $24,000,000 budget. It received negative reviews upon its release.

Anything to Survive

Anything to Survive, also called Almost Too Late, is a 1990 American disaster survival film directed by Zale Dalen and starring Robert Conrad, Matt LeBlanc and Emily Perkins. It is loosely based on the true story of the Wortman family of British Columbia.

Eden (2015 film)

Eden is a 2015 survival film directed by Shyam Madiraju. The film stars Ethan Peck, Nate Parker, Jessica Lowndes, Diego Boneta, James Remar, and Sung Kang.

Gangs of the Dead

Gangs of the Dead, originally Last Rites, is a zombie survival film released in 2006, starring Enrique Almeida and Reggie Bannister.

Into the Wild (film)

Into the Wild is a 2007 American biographical survival film written, co-produced, and directed by Sean Penn. It is an adaptation of Jon Krakauer's 1996 nonfiction book of the same name, based on the travels of Christopher McCandless across North America and his experiences in the Alaskan wilderness in the early 1990s. The film stars Emile Hirsch as McCandless, and Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt as his parents, and features Jena Malone, Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart, and Hal Holbrook.

The film premiered during the 2007 Rome Film Fest and later opened outside Fairbanks, Alaska on September 21, 2007. It was nominated for two Golden Globes and won the award for Best Original Song: "Guaranteed" by Eddie Vedder. It was also nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Editing and Best Supporting Actor for Holbrook.

Liam Neeson

Liam John Neeson (born 7 June 1952) is an actor from Northern Ireland. He has been nominated for a number of awards, including an Academy Award for Best Actor, a BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, and three Golden Globe Awards for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama. Empire magazine ranked Neeson among both the "100 Sexiest Stars in Film History" and "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time".In 1976, Neeson joined the Lyric Players' Theatre in Belfast for two years. He then acted in the Arthurian film Excalibur (1981). Between 1982 and 1987, Neeson starred in five films, most notably alongside Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins in The Bounty (1984), and Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons in The Mission (1986). He landed a leading role alongside Patrick Swayze in Next of Kin (1989).

Neeson rose to prominence when he starred as Oskar Schindler in Schindler's List (1993). He has since starred in other successful films, including the drama Nell (1994), the historical biopic Michael Collins (1996), the 1998 film adaptation of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, the epic space opera Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999), the biographical drama Kinsey (2004), the superhero film Batman Begins (2005), the action thriller series Taken (2008–2014), the thriller-survival film The Grey (2011), and the historical drama Silence (2016). He also provided the voices of Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia trilogy (2005–2010) and the titular monster in A Monster Calls (2016).

Lifeboat (1944 film)

Lifeboat is a 1944 American survival film directed by Alfred Hitchcock from a story by John Steinbeck. The film stars Tallulah Bankhead with William Bendix. Also in the cast are Walter Slezak, Mary Anderson and John Hodiak. Additional roles in the boat were from Henry Hull, Heather Angel, Hume Cronyn, and Canada Lee. It is set entirely on a lifeboat launched from a sinking passenger vessel following a World War II naval attack.

The film is the first in Hitchcock's "limited-setting" films, the others being Rope (1948), Dial M for Murder (1954), and Rear Window (1954). It is the only film Hitchcock made for 20th Century Fox. The film received Academy Award nominations for Best Director, Best Original Story and Best Cinematography – Black and White. Tallulah Bankhead won the New York Film Critics Circle award for best actress of the year. Though highly controversial in its time for what many interpreted as its sympathetic depiction of a German U-boat captain, Lifeboat is now viewed more favorably and has been listed by several modern critics as one of Hitchcock's more underrated films.

Lists of adventure films

This is chronological list of adventure films split by decade. Often there may be considerable overlap particularly between adventure and other genres (including, action, comedy, drama, and fantasy films); the list documents films which are more closely related to adventure, even if they bend genres.

Sanctum (film)

Sanctum is a 2011 Australian-American 3D disaster survival film directed by Alister Grierson and written by John Garvin and Andrew Wight. It stars Richard Roxburgh, Rhys Wakefield, Alice Parkinson, Dan Wyllie, and Ioan Gruffudd. Wight also produced the film, with James Cameron (writer/director of Avatar and Titanic) as executive producer. The film was released in the United States on 4 February 2011 by Universal Pictures to predominantly negative reviews from critics but it was a box office success, earning $108.6 million on a $30 million budget. It also received an AACTA Award nomination for Best Visual Effects. Universal Studios Home Entertainment released Sanctum on DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and Blu-ray 3D on 7 June 2011.

Survival Quest

Survival Quest is a 1989 survival film written and directed by Don Coscarelli and starring Lance Henriksen, Catherine Keener, and Dermot Mulroney.

The Chamber (2016 film)

The Chamber is a 2016 English-language survival film about four people trapped in a submersible at the bottom of the ocean. The film is directed by Ben Parker in his directorial debut, and it stars Johannes Bah Kuhnke, Charlotte Salt, James McArdle, and Elliot Levey.

The Edge (1997 film)

The Edge is a 1997 American survival film directed by Lee Tamahori and starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin. Bart the Bear, a trained Kodiak bear known for appearances in several Hollywood movies, also appears in the film as a vicious Kodiak; this was one of his last film roles.

The Grey

The Grey may refer to:

The Grey (film), a 2011 American thriller and survival film

The Grey (Levinhurst EP)

The Grey (Agalloch EP)

"The Grey", a song by Lala Hsu from The Inner Me

"The Grey", a song by Thrice from Palms

The Grey (film)

The Grey is a 2011 survival film co-written, produced and directed by Joe Carnahan and starring Liam Neeson, Frank Grillo and Dermot Mulroney. It is based on the short story "Ghost Walker" by Ian MacKenzie Jeffers, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Carnahan. The story follows a number of oil-men stranded in Alaska after a plane crash, who must wage a war against a pack of grey wolves stalking them amidst mercilessly cold weather.

Released in the United States on January 27, 2012, the film received praise for its philosophical themes, cinematography, sound effects and acting, while some of the dialogue and the film's ending were criticized; it grossed $77 million worldwide.

The Way Back

The Way Back is a 2010 American survival film directed by Peter Weir, from a screenplay by Weir and Keith Clarke. The film is inspired by The Long Walk (1956), the memoir by former Polish prisoner of war Sławomir Rawicz, who claimed to have escaped from a Soviet Gulag and walked 4,000 miles to freedom in World War II. The film stars Jim Sturgess, Colin Farrell, Ed Harris, and Saoirse Ronan, with Alexandru Potocean, Sebastian Urzendowsky, Gustaf Skarsgård, Dragoș Bucur and Mark Strong.

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Makeup.

Touching the Void (film)

Touching the Void is a 2003 docudrama survival film directed by Kevin MacDonald and starring Brendan Mackey, Nicholas Aaron, and Ollie Ryall. The plot concerns Joe Simpson's and Simon Yates's disastrous and near-fatal climb of Siula Grande in the Cordillera Huayhuash in the Peruvian Andes in 1985. It is based on Simpson's 1988 book of the same name.

Critically acclaimed, Touching the Void was listed in PBS's "100 'Greatest' Documentaries of All Time". The Guardian described it as "the most successful documentary in British cinema history".

Walkabout (film)

Walkabout is a 1971 British-Australian survival film directed by Nicolas Roeg and starring Jenny Agutter, Luc Roeg, and David Gulpilil. Edward Bond wrote the screenplay, which is loosely based on the 1959 novel Walkabout by James Vance Marshall. Set in the Australian outback, it centres on two white schoolchildren who are left to fend for themselves in the Australian outback and who come across a teenage Aboriginal boy who helps them to survive.

One of the first films in the Australian New Wave cinema movement, it received positive reviews despite being a commercial failure. Alongside Wake in Fright, it was one of two Australian films entered in competition for the Grand Prix du Festival at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival. It is also held to be one of Roeg's masterpieces, along with Performance (1970), Don't Look Now (1973), and The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). In 2005, the British Film Institute included it in their list of the "50 films you should see by the age of 14".

By style
By theme
By movement
or period
By demographic groups
By format,
or production

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.