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    Celestial in "All Is Lost"
    From: Frank Reed
    Date: 2013 Oct 30, 12:49 -0700

    I saw "All Is Lost" yesterday afternoon. This is an ocean-sailing survival story starring Robert Redford. It is nearly a silent film. Redford has about five lines of dialog after the opening credits. The reviewers love it. I found it "good but not great". There are interesting parallels with "Gravity". Replace Bullock with Redford, replace space by the ocean, replace space debris with ocean debris, replace Clooney with a shark (the shark has better acting skills). And one might also add, replace nail-biting excitement with mild suspense. Like "Gravity", this is a film with almost no backstory for the characters or events. In fact, "All Is Lost" has no backstory AT ALL. We learn the name of the sailboat, but never the name of the main character or anything about his life before this voyage in the Indian Ocean.

    There are scenes of celestial navigation in the film. When the electronics are flooded and ruined, we discover that he has prepared poorly for disaster and has no sealed backup electronics. He does however have a copy of Blewitt's "Celestial Navigation for Yachtsmen" and begins reading that between disasters. Later he opens a sealed cardboard shipping box and pulls out a standard Astra III B sextant. It appears to be an early model. He shoots sights but the motions are trivial: aiming at the Sun (or not) with no indication that he's adjusting the micrometer to get the altitude. And also there's no indication that he's recording the time. He then does some paperwork which could at least pass for basic celestial navigation calculations. Next he puts an X on a chart of the Indian Ocean showing his progress towards the shipping lanes. In short, the sextant is a prop, and no particular effort went into showing anything resembling realistic use. Just to be clear, I'm not complaining (much). It works fine in the film as it is, but it struck me as rather lazy.

    I would not recommend seeing this in a theater for various reasons. Wait for the digital download. It should be available soon since the producers clearly want it "out there" before the Academy Awards.

    Here's a collection of reviews of the film, mostly high praise:
    http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/all_is_lost_2013/

    -FER

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