When we are in survival mode, instinct and the innate drive to survive generally come into play; usually, it is man versus the wild, man versus nature, or man versus man. This fact has been and will continue to be a fantastic theatrical idea since it inspires no matter how the accomplishment turns out.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of fictitious or historically accurate survival-related movies. These movies consistently affect audiences because they explore the depths of human emotions, including fear, grief, rage, love, and joy. They offer a glimpse of the fundamental virtues of humanity: fortitude, discernment, and tenacity.
These stories are based on several testimonies from those who made it through terrifying situations or lone survivors. In either case, survival films present an intriguing and perhaps challenging glimpse of a person’s determination to survive. Here are 12 of the top survival movies that everyone should watch.
Movie # 1: Into The Wild (2007)
A top student and athlete, Christopher McCandless (Emil Hirsch), decides on a whim to trek across North America and live in the Alaskan wilderness right after graduating from college. He gives up his valuables and donates his money to a good cause. He encounters a variety of people along the route who assist in giving his life purpose.
The movie is a reimagining of Jon Krakauer’s autobiographical book of the same name. The early 1990s adventures and daily existence of McCandless in the wilderness of Alaska are detailed in the book.
Into The Wild is a survival film that follows the protagonist’s self-discovery and appreciation of the value of family and friends in the quest for happiness. McCandless discovers the harsh reality while living alone in the cramped spaces of an abandoned bus, which has also served as his residence and eventual deathbed.
Movie # 2: Apollo 13 (1995)
Apollo 13 is the first space survival movie. The 1970 Apollo lunar mission, unsuccessful due to an oxygen tank explosion that seriously depleted the crew’s oxygen supply is brought to life in Ron Howard’s iconic docudrama. Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton play the three astronauts who must maintain their composure and work with NASA to devise several improvised fixes for their ship to survive the mission and return home safely.
Movie # 3: The Revenant (2015)
Based on historical events, this cinematic masterpiece places Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) in the vanguard of a tortuous effort to survive despite brutal-cold weather and life-threatening injuries.
During exploration, a bear mauls him from head to foot, leaving him in a deadly condition with a shattered limb, open wounds, pierced organs, and cut skin. Glass must crawl to safety. Two members of his group abandon him for dead, and one murders his son directly in front of his eyes.
The frontiersman uses his survival abilities and travels over cold terrain to search for his son’s killer and those who deceived him. His quest to get revenge for the loss of his young son (Forrest Goodluck) is driven by this passion. Glass confronts the harsh weather and the perils of the unknown in the unfamiliar territory despite the excruciating physical anguish of his severely damaged body.
The grieving father has maggots nibble at his dead tissues to prevent an infection brought on by his nearly deadly wounds. Both the French and Native Americans fire their weapons at him.
He uses nature’s resources to combat hypothermia and starvation (he sleeps inside the hollowed carcass of a horse for warmth). Glass survives the arduous winter with a raging thirst for justice.
Movie # 4: Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)
Follow the Rabbit-Proof Fence, a book by Doris Pilkington Garimara that is broadly based on a true story was adapted into this utterly terrifying Australian drama. The story of 3 Aboriginal girls who are taken from their families and forced to “integrate” into white society is represented in the film as they are taken from their homes in West Australia and sent to a labor camp.
This is part of the historical government practice of stealing Aboriginal children from their families and forcing them to attend “training” programs. The three girls made a miraculous escape, and with the police chasing them, they set off to find their families.
Movie # 5: The Martian (2015)
This science fiction adventure movie, based on Andy Weir’s book of the same name, portrays the story of survival on a far-off planet. Astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is on a mission to Mars when he discovers himself independently after his crew believes he had perished in a violent storm.
If Watney wishes to survive, he must learn to adapt to his surroundings and deftly handle his circumstances. The clever scientist quickly finds himself cultivating veggies on the harsh planet with the limited resources he has. He finally discovers a means of signaling Earth for his rescue using his skill and intelligence.
The Martian differs from previous survival movies in that it doesn’t have a lot of unexpected twists and turns. The storyline is predictable enough.
The brilliance of this movie, however, resides in the survivor’s talent at making light of his circumstance to boost his spirits. The viewer becomes engaged in his will to live and return to Earth because he continues to be hilarious, fascinating, and likable.
Movie # 6: Gravity (2013)
How would you feel if you had been stranded in space inside a ship and had no way to return to your home? An excellent cast, including an Oscar-winning epic, stars Sandra Bullock as a medical engineer. She witnesses extreme failure on her first space task when debris destroys the shuttle, killing many crew members.
Movie # 7: The Grey (2011)
The movie is based on Ian Mackenzie Jeffers’ short novel Ghost Walker, and it follows a crew of oilmen who become stuck in Alaska when a storm destroys their jet. The guys battle to survive in the face of wolves and harsh cold.
Among the survivors, John Ottway (Liam Neeson) demonstrates exceptional survival abilities and quickly gains the group’s leadership. Ottway is an experienced hunter who understands how to cope with wolves. On their journey to seek refuge in the woods, the guys are surrounded by predatory beasts.
The movie portrays a traditional storyline of prey and predator in which the former is in new surroundings. The guys are at a disadvantage in surviving the grey wolves’ onslaught since they are at ease in their habitat.
Movie # 8: Open Water (2003)
After watching this frightening horror film, you might think twice about going on your next diving vacation. Open Water, partly based on a true story from 1998, centers on a married couple who wind up alone and trapped during a dive adventure when their group inadvertently leaves them behind. Their amazement immediately turns to worry when they learn they are in shark-infested seas after resurfacing to find themselves on their own.
Movie # 9: I Am Legend (2007)
The scenario for this zombie survival thriller is a post-apocalyptic New York City in which US Army virologist Robert Neville (Will Smith) lives alone with his dog Samantha. The plot follows him and his partner as they make the best of what’s left of the city.
The movie takes audiences from security inspections and the development of security procedures through scavenging. We witness how close the duo has become throughout their time together. Flashbacks also tell us about previous events.
Neville and his dog are the movie’s central themes for the most part. That is unless the undead decides to go hunting. Now, the two must figure out how to use every resource at their disposal to escape the zombie invasion.
Movie # 10: Cast Away (2000)
This movie about survival shows how adaptable people can be when all other options appear hopeless. It embodies everything that a successful and motivational survival movie ought to be.
The movie’s protagonist is systems engineer Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks), who survives an aircraft disaster and makes a home on an isolated island. He spent years off the island and learned to be content with his poor living arrangements of foraging for food and making fires.
He is entirely detached from any authentic social engagement. Wilson, a volleyball, is his lone verbal friend.
Noland’s will to live elevates him to the role of Robinson Crusoe in this film. And, like in Robinson Crusoe’s novel, he finally flees the island to return to regular society.
Movie # 11: Lone Survivor (2013)
Since it portrays the story of survival on hostile territory, Lone Survivor appeals to fans of war movies. It is narrated from the perspective of the surviving member of a SEAL team dispatched to war-torn Afghanistan and is primarily based on actual events.
To locate and assassinate a senior Taliban agent, Marcus Luttrell (Mark Wahlberg), Danny Dietz (Emile Hirsch), Michael Murphy (Taylor Kitsch), and Matthew “Axe” Axelson (Ben Foster) is on a survey and surveillance operation. After being attacked, the squad makes it to Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush area.
The only person to survive is Luttrell. He is still alive to recount how the group struggled to survive when the enemy outnumbered them.
The movie Lone Survivor emphasizes the realism of battle scenarios and the human desire to endure intense pressure from the adversary. It portrays a moving story of bravery and courage and an honest and devastating representation of the effects of war.
Movie # 12: The Road (2016)
Even though “post-apocalyptic” may be the last genre you feel like watching right now, the misery is worth it for this eerie film version of Cormac McCarthy’s book. In the dark wasteland that was once America, Viggo Mortensen played the unidentified Man who was striving to care for his kid (Kodi Smit-McPhee). The Road is a compelling examination of perseverance and paternal love while not being very upbeat.