Now so all of us are limited to our homes for the near future, you may have more time than ever to actually catch up with all the stuff you’ve meant to watch, whether you’re in British period pieces or documentaries. If you’re looking for a pulse-pounding diversion from our present life – or maybe just a reminder that things could be worse – there’s a lot of film feed that can lend to any intense escape. From toxic conditions and destructive hell-scapes, here are incredible movies to watch about survival and resilience.
Touching The Void (2003)
This is one of the most intense, blood pressure-raising movies on the list, not least because it’s a genuine tale shared by the actual survivors. In 1985, veteran mountaineers Joe Simpson and Simon Yates set out to scale the Peruvian Siula Grande – a climb that had never been accomplished before. While they have safely achieved the top, the storm turns their descent into a terrifying and near-fatal nightmare that is told here by a mixture of re-enactments and first-person interviews with Simpson and Yates.
Life of Pi (2012)
Adapted from Yann Martel’s award-winning 2001 novel of the same name, this ocean survival story follows a 16-year-old Pi who survives a shipwreck and finds himself trapped on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger called Richard Parker, among other zoo animals. It’s a smooth mix of philosophic drama and an exciting adventure.
127 Hours (2010)
The Oscar-nominated portrayal of James Franco is the centerpiece of this gripping fictionalized vision of a very true survival story. In 2003, the climber Aron Ralston suffered a crash during a solo climb in Utah’s Canyonlands National Park and ended up stuck in place by a boulder that broke his arm. As the hours went by, he knew that his only chance of survival was to amputate his own limb. Needless to say, prepare yourself for a stressful yet eventually inspiring experience.
Open Water (2003)
You might think twice about your next scuba diving getaway after seeing this profoundly unsettling horror movie. Loosely based on a true case from 1998, Open Water follows a couple who are stuck on a scuba expedition after their party mistakenly leaves them behind. Since resurfacing to find themselves alone, their surprise soon transforms to fear as they discover that they are in shark-infested water.
Apollo 13 (1995)
The story of the original space survival. Ron Howard’s classic docudrama brings to life the unsuccessful 1970 Apollo lunar mission, during which an oxygen tank burst, destroyed the spacecraft, and seriously drained the crew’s oxygen supply. Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon, and Bill Paxton appeared as a group of astronauts who were expected to stay cool and collaborate with NASA on a series of jury-rigged fixes to shore up their craft and get home safely against the odds.
If you felt you were lost in space inside a ship that seemed stressful enough, imagine that you would stumble into space without a ship to return to. Alfonso Cuarón’s Oscar-winning epic star Sandra Bullock is a pediatric engineer whose very first space flight takes a horrifying turn when space debris kills her shuttle, killing the rest of the crew. After every gripping second of Stone’s survival battle, Gravity is both a groundbreaking scientific success and a heck of a blockbuster.
Cast Away (2000)
Without this legendary Tom Hanks-starring entry, which is both a convincing human endurance drama and a touching relationship between a man and a volleyball, no list of survival stories will be complete. After his plane crashes in the Pacific, Hanks’s every man washes on an uninhabited island and has been left to fend for months, all alone – except Wilson.
The Road (2009)
Although “post-apocalyptic” may be the very last genre that you’re interested in seeing right now, this haunting adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s novel is worth the misery. Viggo Mortensen gazed as an unidentified man trying to take care of his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee) in the desolate landscape that was once America. Though not uplifting, The Road is an exciting pursuit of endurance and parental love.
The Way Back (2010)
Not to be confused with either the Ben Affleck drama of the same name last year or the fantastic summer movie The Way Back. In this accurate tale, Jim Sturgess stars as Sławomir Rawicz, a former Polish prisoner of war trapped in a Siberian labor camp after being humiliated by his wife during the Second World War. While he escaped the center with other fellow prisoners, Rawicz’s ordeal was beginning as he had to travel 4,000 miles through the Himalayas to safety.
Rescue Dawn (2006)
Christian Bale is now well known for his spectacular body changes, and one of his most unforgettable was the part of Dieter Dengler, a pilot whose plane was shot out of the sky during the Vietnam War. Dengler was held prisoner by Pathet Lao, a communist group that sought to compel Dengler to oppose America. The film follows his captivity with several fellow Americans and the escape efforts of the prisoners.