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All Is Lost—And Who Was Doing the Thinking?

All_is_Lost_posterWarning: This article contains spoilers.

The film All Is Lost has been released to unanimously raving reviews. Critics are greatly satisfied with both the film itself and Mr. Redford’s performance, which is wonderful since he is the one and only actor in it. A seasoned gentleman leisurely crossing the Indian Ocean all by himself on an elegant sailboat faces a number of contretemps. Things go from bad to worse until he’s forced to abandon ship and board the lifeboat. More tribulations await him there.

It’s a good man-versus-the-elements yarn, and I found myself rooting for the mariner (we never get to know his name) because, as a fellow human being, I certainly wouldn’t like to be in his predicament. Having said that, my rooting for the mariner wasn’t nearly as wholehearted as it should have been, because a simple but essential detail kept nagging at me.

Years ago, while doing research for a novel of mine, Leeward & Windward, I studied a book by Don Biggs entitled Survival AfloatHow to Prevent Disasters on the WaterOr Survive if One Occurs, copyrighted in 1976 and published presumably then (there is no release date in my copy).… Read the rest

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