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Man against the odds. There’s perhaps no storyline more prevalent in film history. But take it to the extreme, toss in a dash of Mother Nature, and you have the makings of a great survivalist film. Often with true stories as the basis, these films ignite something primal in us. Want to see the best of the best? These are the ones we recommend.


All Is Lost

When your cast list is literally one person long, that person better be able to hold your attention. Luckily, Robert Redford does a tremendous job in All Is Lost. The movie’s about a man lost at sea who must continually come up with clever ways to survive. It’s silent and creepy. We can’t guarantee it won’t make you a bit weary of your next trip on the water, however.  Amazon iTunes


Jeremiah Johnson

Looks like Robert Redford has a thing for brawling with Mother Nature. Jeremiah Johnson uses the mountains of Utah as a backdrop for one man’s warpath through the wilderness. It’s not just about surviving what Earth has to offer as a lone wolf; it’s about the difficulties of settler life and one man against many. Amazon iTunes


Kon-Tiki

Thor Heyerdahl was a bold man—hell, when your first name is “Thor,” you’re gonna be tough. Kon-Tiki is the cinematic telling of his 1947 death wish. The Norwegian explorer claimed he could cross the Pacific on a wooden raft to prove South Americans could have settled in Polynesia during pre-Colombian times. While obviously some liberties were taken—the insane shark attack, comes to mind—the film is well-done and deserving of a wider audience. Amazon iTunes


Buried

Have claustrophobia? Don’t see Buried. Ryan Reynolds stars as a man captured by insurgents and buried in a coffin. The film goes on to show the steps he takes to try and get help while trapped in a box. The 2010 film went largely unnoticed, but is more entertaining than you might think. Again, if you have claustrophobia, this is like watching your worst nightmare. Amazon iTunes


Alive

The quintessential survivalist movie. Based on a true story, the film centers on a group of plane crash survivors faced with difficult decisions that have to be made to stay alive. It’s harrowing and makes you question what you’d do should you find yourself in the same situation. Amazon iTunes


127 Hours

Along the lines of Alive127 Hours shows what a man is willing to do in order to fend off death. Complete with one of the most harrowing scenes in recent memory, the James Franco-led film is based on the real life story of mountain climber Aron Ralston. Amazon iTunes


The Grey

When the trailer for The Grey was released, it was easy to chalk the film up as another simple Liam Neeson action movie, in which he displays his particular set of skills. But what emerged was an action flick that, while not revolutionary, was a lot better than we thought it would be. When a down-on-your-luck man has to lead a group of rough individuals through the icy Alaskan wilderness to survive after a plane crash, everything—wolves included—tests his will to make it. As with any survivalist film, it’s not just man versus nature; it’s man versus himself. Amazon iTunes


Walkabout

While campy at times, Nicolas Roeg’s 1971 Walkabout gives a fun twist on the survival narrative. Set in the Australian outback, the film centers on a two siblings destined for death in the unforgiving landscape. Then comes along a boy on his walkabout—the journey Australian Aborigines make boys go on as a rite of passage—who helps them and passes on some real knowledge in the process. Amazon iTunes


Cast Away

When you start talking to volleyballs, you know you’re going through some shit. Tom Hanks puts on a brilliant performance that digs into more of the mental struggle of lonely survival in Cast Away. Because surviving on your own is about more than just acquiring food. Amazon iTunes


The Naked Prey

The Naked Prey is an absurd movie that’s lost a little of its luster over time, but it’s still wildly original and entertaining enough to include. After torturing a hunting party in horrific ways—a cobra bites into the eye of one man, for example—a group of tribesmen strip one man from the party and release him with just a knife into the wild. Then they hunt him. Amazon iTunes

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