Fresh waterHow likely is it that there would be a source of fresh water on a tiny island way out in the middle of the ocean?
- He probably just boiled some ocean water to separate it from the salt. However—this requires a way to catch the steam to form water, and that's a bit complicated for a guy with no pot.
- There are plants on the island so there must be fresh water. He might have to dig it out, but it's there.
- The most probable immediate source was rainwater. He was in an area that rained quite often, so he likely created a gathering pool from the remains of the raft to gather, and used the coconut shells as storage. In fact, this was what he did while sailing.
He buried Albert's body fully clothedAll that fabric, the wallet with plastic credit cards, and Al's belt would have all been pretty helpful.
- I'm guessing at the time he didnt think to pick pocketing a corpse, or wanting to see a deadman's junk.
- Also, at that point in the movie he hadn't settled into his Robinson Crusoe persona yet. He wasn't thinking about what he'd need to survive, he was just flailing around trying to think of something to do. By the time he learned how to forage properly and realized how useful Albert's clothes would be they would have been pretty stanky, and probably not safe for him to handle.
The seafood buffet on his returnGood heavens - don't you think this guy had had enough seafood? He probably wanted a burger!
- It's been a while since I watched the movie, but wasn't that the joke?
- Personally, I thought the joke was that the crab legs at the buffet were so much bigger than the crab he'd been eating on the island. The look on his face, to me, seemed to say, "Where the hell were these giant crabs on my island? Did I get stuck on the Island of Gimpy Crabs?"
- I think the writers knew that added that for Rule of Funny.
- That whole scene reeks of Comically Missing the Point. One of Chuck's coworkers tells him they need to catch up on some fishing. Because Chuck probably hasn't done enough fishing the past 4 years.
The package he never openedWhy did he never open that package during the 4 years he was stuck on that island? Wouldn't he want to know if there was anything useful or potentially life-saving in it? Also it seems rather absurd that after 4 years that he would give the damn thing back to the address it belonged to, you would think that they would have long since forgotten about the item they had purchased if they had not already replaced it.
- I've seen that as a "the mail must get through"-attitude, an intentional unfinished business that would serve to get him through low spells. Also there are occasional reports about letters delivered with a delay of decades, and the reaction is generally not "why do you bother me with this now".
- A FedEx commercial for the super bowl parodying it has the final scene of the movie be a little different where the person the package was addressed to meets him at the door and accepts it. Out of curiosity he asks the woman he meets to open it for him so that he can know what was in the package. It was a satellite phone, a GPS, fishing pole, water purified, and seeds. Had he opened the package he could have gotten off 4 years sooner.
- Well, according to the third draft of the movie, on the 1,000th day on the island Chuck opens the package which contained two bottles of salsa verde and a note. More info here.
Why? Why did Wilson have to float on?
- Why couldn't they make it so that he didn't? My God, that was the saddest part of the movie. The saddest part of any movie ever, at least for me.
- It says something for Tom Hanks's acting skills that he can make us teary watching a man losing a volleyball.
- The fact that it's so sad is the whole point. What were you expecting? That he would wash up on dry land and spend the rest of his life talking to that damn volleyball? That would've totally killed the mood of the movie.
- "Kelly, I'm back, I love you, and this is my volleyball: Wilson!"
The plane crash
- Why does the engine he sees nearby in the water just after the crash seem to spontaneously burst into flames and explode? Maybe some airplane guys can shed some light.
- I'm not an airplane guy but I would guess it had something to do with the water being sucked into the engine and...something to do with pressure in the engine and...bad things happened inside and it 'asploded. Yeah.
- Possibly some of the electronics that controlled the engine shorted out and sparked off whatever fuel was inside.
The suicide dummyWhy does the fact that the test rope was too long mean he couldn't hang himself? Surely finding that out was the point of testing the length in the first place?
- The rope wasn't too long. The tree he tied it to broke in half when he dropped the dummy off the cliff. If Chuck (who presumably weighed a lot more than the dummy) had tried to hang himself from that tree it probably would have snapped the tree right off and he would have fallen onto the rocks below, where he could have broken his legs or his back (or both). And without any way to get back to his shelter he would have suffered a slow and torturous death from exposure. Afterwards he was too spooked to go back up there again.
- The length of the rope is actually is significant in this matter. A longer drop means more momentum which in turns means a greater force put on the tree branch. A shorter rope could very well have made the difference between a quick death from hanging and a slow death from exposure.
A long time without fireChuck was on that island a long time (several weeks at least) before deciding he needed to make a fire. It would surely have been one of the first things he missed.
- He might have missed it but not been desperate enough for it that he wanted to put out the effort to try and make one. Remember, every movement and bit of activity burns calories, calories he couldn't spare at that point. He thus doesn't decide to make fire until he needs fire.
Figuring out where Chuck was stranded
- Near the end of the movie, Kelly shows Chuck charts detailing where he was found, where the island was, and how far he drifted - how the heck did anyone figure out the last two?
- Sea currents would be one major aid. Since he wasn't traveling under his own power for the most part, he'd be at the mercy of the currents. Knowing where he was picked up, they could at the very least back track along the current. But also consider that he got to the island because of a plane crash - even if the black box is unrecoverable, they could find out where the plane might have had troubles (certainly the pilots would have said as much over the radio). So there's more information available than might otherwise seem.
- His description of the island's size and layout could narrow it down further, as even tiny islands which nobody's visited for decades are at least documented by oceanographic surveys.
- The arrival of the cargo ship is rightly labeled a Deus ex Machina on the main page—it seems quite improbable that Chuck's tiny raft would be spotted by a ship of that size. But recall that the scene begins with Chuck being splashed by the spray of a whale's blowhole, and it becomes easier to imagine crewmembers, idly whale watching on deck, having their eyes drawn to Chuck's position by the whale surfacing nearby.
- The way he was ignoring the splashing and noise makes it seem that he thinks another whale pod is passing by.