The Great Escape

Chain Gangs! Cast Aways! Kung Fu! Chocolate! ... It's Time for the Holiday Film Previews

<i>Cast Away</i>
Cast Away

Cast Away

D: Robert Zemeckis; with Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Christopher Noth.

"I set out to create a modern myth of loss and redemption that raises the question: What do you do when your dreams don't come true?" At last October's Heart of Film Screenwriters Conference, Bill Broyles led a panel discussing his latest high-profile project, Cast Away, starring Tom Hanks as a man struggling for survival and sanity on a deserted island in the South Pacific. Austin screenwriter Broyles, co-founder of Texas Monthly and creator of the late Eighties TV series China Beach, did not talk about the film's unconventional shoot, which stopped for a year while director Robert Zemeckis made What Lies Beneath and star Tom Hanks shed 55 pounds. Broyles didn't talk about the film's long development, which began over five years ago when Hanks first pitched the idea to Broyles during the shoot of Apollo 13 (which Broyles also co-wrote). Instead, in a panel titled "Talk Is Cheap," Broyles discussed the biggest challenge he faced writing Cast Away -- the silent expression of emotion through action. Although the film begins with Hanks' character as a chatty Fed Ex worker, once the character becomes stranded on the island, there is almost no dialogue. No music. No voiceover. No cutaways to sunny civilization, where Hanks' wife (played by Helen Hunt) waits poignantly. Only the sounds of sand and surf, and Hanks' occasional meanderings, directed at a volleyball named Wilson. It's a risky proposition in Hollywood, even in a film starring Tom Hanks and directed by the man who made Forrest Gump. As Broyles put it, "It's like the most expensive experimental movie ever made." (Dec. 22)

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