Cast Away, up until recently, was not a movie that struck me as particularly rewatchable. Some films seem better suited to the original viewing only, and the 2000 Tom Hanks performance on a deserted island had previously fit that bill for me. However, a recent listen to one of my favorite podcasts, The Rewatchables (on the Ringer podcast network), made me reconsider. The podcast championed the film’s most engaging scenes and decisions regarding the score as some of the century’s best film-making, so I sat down earlier this week to put those ideas to my personal test. In doing so, I started thinking about what makes me so prone to rewatch movies.
I’m one of those people that can watch a movie fifty times (or over a hundred in the case of my favorite from youth through college, Top Gun). Why? No doubt at first because my father found a great deal of entertainment in doing so and it was a pattern of his that well suited me. Then, at some point, it became a natural instinct to seek joy in it. Rewatching movies, simply, put me in a good mood. Later, I started to notice that movies brought a little something extra to the table when of a particularly good quality.
Top notch filmmaking across every genre shares the ability to connect to us psychologically. Die Hard is a blast of a movie to rewatch if you’re looking to be entertained; everyman tough guy John McLean, iconic ’80s heel Hans Gruber, Nakatomi tower, a couple of memorable supporting players, and a sprinkle of emotional depth for “seasoning” combine for an all-time Top 10 action flick. Cast Away was sold to me as rewatchable because of its weighty emotional punch; the near-engagement sets the stage for a gripping plane crash scene, then the island plot (with making fire, Wilson, et al, complimented by the inspired decision to feature zero musical score, sucking you into the bigness of Chuck’s desperate reality. It’s all about what it brings to the table for you, psychologically.
So, at this point, I think my desire to reinforce positive aspects of my life is the main thing that makes movie rewatching so enjoyable. It’s like catching up with an old friend. Sometimes, the conversation makes you laugh at your memories, at others it makes you feel a deep resonance or nostalgia or lucky; maybe it makes you think about it for days after because it was so interesting. Honestly, at this point in my life I appreciate opportunities to get into a deeper state of feeling, but without any pressure from real life. Movies have proven to me their ability to draw emotion out of me, so I rewatch the ones that do so very effectively.
The best thing about re-watching a movie is that you catch little pieces of the art-form that you may not have noticed the first time. Viewed in the right frame of mind, those artful moments can stick with a person forever. I, for one, think that to be the underlying magic of the movie watching experience. Cast Away is ripe with those moments. In my recent rewatch, the scene that really stood out to me was the climactic conversation that Chuck (Tom Hanks) has with his best friend over twice losing his beloved Kelly. The message was palpable: you can lose everything, overcome great obstacles, regain a lot, and still not get what you wanted most, but “you never know what the tide may bring,” so you just keep pressing forward.
So, yeah…Cast Away is definitely rewatchable; probably too heavy for it to make my regular rotation with other Hanks films like Big, A League of Their Own, Forrest Gump, Apollo 13, or Catch Me If You Can, but thanks primarily to Hanks and his masterful performance – he made me care about his relationship with a volleyball as if it were a dog and pulled hard at my heartstrings when he lost Wilson at sea – Cast Away is highly rewatchable.