Most who know me well understand that I am a movie buff. I enjoy a good Hollywood motion picture of all varieties--drama, comedy, epic, historic, adventure, etc... I have a top twenty list composed of my favorite movies of all times. To qualify to be on that list, the movie has to have been seen by me at least twice, with no objection from me to see to see the movie again, and again. One movie that qualifies for my top twenty list is the 2000 film Castaway, directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks. Hanks portrays a FedEx employee who is stranded on an uninhabited island for 1500 days (over four years) after his plane crashes on a flight over the South Pacific. The film depicts his attempts to survive on the island using remnants of his plane's cargo, as well as his eventual escape and return to society. Hanks won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role at the 73rd Academy Awards for his critically acclaimed performance in this classic movie.
I find "Castaway" emotionally gripping on several fronts. The movie has the least amount of actor dialogue than any Hollywood movie since the silent film era of the early 1900's--yet it also won an Oscar for "sound" due to the incredible sounds that made the audience feel they were on the island. The theme song is one of the great Hollywood songs of all time, and it is the only song played in those brief places where there is actually music in the film. When I first saw the movie, I was disappointed--very disappointed--in the ending. If you've seen it, you know that Hank's character is eventually rescued, but there is no happy ending. His wife, who waited for two years hoping her husband would be found and rescued, eventually gave up, and had a funeral. Then, a year later, she remarried. The fact that thoughts of his wife (and a small photograph in a pocket watch) is what kept the castaway alive for four years, only to discover that he had actually lost her after he himself had been rescued, caused me a great deal of angst as a movie goer.
But time has softened my view of the ending. In fact, I now consider the last scene of Castaway as one of the closings of any Hollywood movie. I don't want to give it away because of people who may have not yet seen it (like my secretary). But the lesson from the scene, which involves a ranch and a road, is that after a few tough hit ins life, when dreams are shattered, you must keep on going down the road of life--and you might as well do it with enthusiasm and a smile. The scene is very simple yet visual, the theme song is played for the final time, and the viewer feels hope after vicariously feeling the pain of Hank's character. In retrospect, though I disliked the ending when I first saw it, I am now tempted to place Castaway's concluding scene as one of my favorite movie endings. Why the change in evaluation? Because after over nine years of reflection, Castaway mirrors real life, not fantasy, which Hollywood usually portrays. Disappointment happens--but we must move on. God has a way of working all things for our good, even those tough, hurtful, broken things of life.
I had the opportunity this past Thursday to take a couple of photographs with my cell phone (the two below) at the very place director Robert Zemeckis and actor Tom Hanks filmed the final scenes. I had been to a funeral of a close family friend in Borger, Texas, and was heading back to Enid, Oklahoma on Highway 60 when I turned south on County Road #5 about 12 miles west of the Texas panhandle town called Canadian, Texas. I had been told that Castaway had filmed near Canadian, Texas and after calling and speaking to a very helfpul secretary at First Baptist Church, Canadian whose husband worked near the Arrington Ranch, I followed his directions and turned off travelled south on County Road #5. Sure enough, four miles down the white shale road, on the west side, is the Arrington Ranch (pictured here). The same family has farmed the this acreage of land for over one hundred years. Their working ranch also doubles as a bed and breakfast. It was here that Tom Hank's character, in the final scene of Castaway, delivers the package that meant so much to him while on the island.
After taking a few pictures, I went six miles further south from the Arrington Ranch where County Road #5 (also called Ranch Road 48) intersects Ranch Road 1268, which runs east/west. It is at this crossroads that the compelling last scene of Castaway is filmed. A choice to move on on down the road is made. The road Hanks took is pictured in the second paragraph here. After taking a few more pictures I turned around and went north on County Road 5 to Highway 60 and made my way back to Enid. The little side trip took about 45 minutes, and it might seem silly to some, but I really had a great time on the little excursion. Thinking about Castaway's last scene, reflecting on the different crossroads of my own life, and contemplating the goodness of God during my entire life made the trip home seem really short!
In His Grace,