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 332015[4]
127 Hours2010[5]
A Cry in the Wild1990[6]
Against the Sun2014[7]
All Is Lost2013[9]
Apollo 131995[12]
Back from Eternity1956[14]
Captain Phillips2013[15]
Cast Away2000[5]
The Deep2012[17]
The Donner Party2009[18]
The Eagle2011[19]
The Edge1997[8]
Eight Below2006[20]
Escape from Alcatraz1979[21]
Five Came Back1939[14]
The Flight of the Phoenix1965[3]
The Grey2011[23]
A Hijacking2012[12]
The Impossible2012[25]
In the Heart of the Sea2015[26]
Into the Wild2007[5]
Iron Will1994[27]
Jeremiah Johnson1971[28]
The Last Descent2016[29]
Life of Pi2012[30]
Lone Survivor2013[15]
Lord of the Flies1963[14]
Lost in the Desert1969/1970[32]
The Martian2015[33]
Man in the Wilderness1971[31]
Meek's Cutoff2010[28]
My Side of the Mountain1969[14]
The Naked Prey1965[31]
No Blade of Grass1970[14]
Nobody Wants the Night2015[35]
The Omega Man1971[31]
On the Beach1959[31]
Open Water2003[5]
Panic in Year Zero!1962[31]
Planet of the Apes1968[31]
The Poseidon Adventure1972[3]
Quest for Fire1981[5]
Rabbit-Proof Fence2002[5]
Rescue Dawn2006[5]
The Revenant2015[36]
The Road2009[12]
Robinson Crusoe1954[14]
Robinson Crusoe1997[37]
Robinson Crusoe on Mars1965[38]
Sands of the Kalahari1965[31]
The Savage Is Loose1974[31]
The Secret Land1948[14]
Seven Waves Away1957[12]
The Shallows2016[41]
Southern Comfort1981[28]
Soylent Green1973[31]
Stranded: I've Come from a Plane that Crashed in the Mountains2007[12]
Survival Quest1989[8]
Swiss Family Robinson1960[23]
Teenage Caveman1958[31]
Touching the Void2003[5]
The Ultimate Warrior1975[42]
Valhalla Rising2009[43]
The War Game1965[31]
The Way Back2010[5]
The World, the Flesh and the Devil1959[31]

See also


  1. Sobchack 1988, p. 12
  2. Sobchack 1988, p. 14
  3. 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. Staff (January 23, 2012). "The 10 Best Survival Movies". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  6. "Best Survival Movies". Retrieved 2019-11-14.
  7. 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.
  8. Ferguson, Lee (November 12, 2010). "127 Hours and five other great survival movies". CBC News. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  9. 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.
  10. "Berlinale: 1984 Programme". Retrieved 2011-01-04.
  11. "Mel Gibson's Maya". Archaeology. 60 (1). January–February 2007.
  12. Staff (October 17, 2013). "20 Survival Films That Will Take You Into The Abyss". The Playlist. Indiewire. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  13. Barraclough, Leo (May 22, 2017). "Mads Mikkelsen on Surviving the Polar Wilderness in 'Arctic'". Variety. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  14. Fristoe, Roger (December 22, 2017). "Survival Movies: Fridays in January". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  15. McGrath, Charles (November 1, 2013). "Tales of Danger for You to Survive". The New York Times. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  16. Ford, Coreena (22 March 2009). "Neil's back into battle". Sunday Sun. Retrieved 25 March 2009.
  17. Kaufman, Amy (September 3, 2015). "Fall Movie Guide: Making 'Everest' was a tall order for filmmakers". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  18. 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.
  19. Stuart Kemp (25 August 2009). "'Eagle of the Ninth' adds cast". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 25 January 2013. Retrieved 26 August 2009.
  20. French, Philip (April 23, 2006). "Eight Below". The Guardian. Retrieved December 12, 2014.
  21. 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.
  22. Adams, Sam (September 2, 2015). "First Reviews of 'Everest': Stunning Spectacle, So-So Drama". Criticwire. Indiewire. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  23. Guzman, Rafer (January 27, 2012). "Survivor films: Which live, which die – and why?". The Sacramento Bee. Archived from the original on February 16, 2013. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  24. Basha O'Reilly, "Hidalgo - from myth to movie", The Longriders Guild
  25. Topel, Fred (November 6, 2012). "AFI 2012 Review: The Impossible". CraveOnline Media, LLC. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  26. Chang, Justin (December 2, 2015). "Film Review: 'In the Heart of the Sea'". Variety. Retrieved October 11, 2018.
  27. "Iron Will"., Inc.
  28. Mertes, Micah (November 1, 2013). "The 10 best survival movies". Omaha World-Herald. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  29. Jones, Morgan. "Utah Nutty Putty Cave accident to be depicted in new film, 'The Last Descent'". Desert News. Retrieved 24 February 2019.
  30. Holden, Ed (December 19, 2012). "Life of Pi review". MSN Movies. MSN. Archived from the original on May 20, 2013. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
  31. 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.
  32. "LOST IN THE DESERT @ The Cinefamily: The Passion of the Dirkie". Planet Of The Nerds. 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2018-09-12.
  33. Gettell, Oliver (June 8, 2015). "'The Martian' trailer: Matt Damon is lost in space (again)". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  34. Siegel, Tatiana (5 May 2008). "Sony lands 'Moon' rights". Variety. Retrieved 18 March 2019.
  35. Roddy, Michael (February 5, 2015). "Arctic survival film, from female perspective, kicks off Berlin fest". Reuters. Retrieved September 9, 2015.
  36. Bahr, Lindsey (January 11, 2016). "'Martian,' 'Revenant' get awards boost with top Globes wins". Associated Press. Archived from the original on January 14, 2016. Retrieved January 11, 2016.
  37. Brosnan, Pierce. "Robinson Crusoe". Internet Archive. Archived from the original on 3 May 2019. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  38. Leskosky, Richard J. (February 2, 2014). "A new film genre: Solitary survival". The News-Gazette. Retrieved October 6, 2015.
  39. Burr, Ty (February 4, 2011). "Sanctum". The Boston Globe.
  40. "Golden Globe Awards". Hollywood Foreign Press Association. 2003. Retrieved 27 February 2014.
  41. 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.
  42. Shapiro, Jerome F. (2001). Atomic Bomb Cinema: The Apocalyptic Imagination on Film. Routledge. p. 160. ISBN 978-0-415-93660-6.
  43. Harkness, Alistair (1 May 2010). "Film Review: Valhalla Rising". The Scotsman. Edinburgh.


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