The 10 Best Survival Movies of All Time

Mpora’s ultimate guide to some of the greatest survival movies of all time...

the best survival movies ever made

Survival movies are one of the only things in modern society that can truly make you question whether you could survive in extreme conditions, against all odds.

The thing about survival movies is that they make you think about the worst case scenario; about things that even the most regular weekend adventurers don’t like to think about before they set off to explore, ride or climb the day away.

Survival movies bring you face to face with people battling against the wilderness, relying on instincts they never even knew they had in order to hang on for that crucial hour longer.

Some may be fictional, many are true, but either way, the best outdoor survival movies always make you question whether you could have battled through to defy the odds in the circumstances. Here are 10 of the best…

1) Cast Away

One of the all time greats when it comes to survival movies, Tom Hank’s 2000 film Cast Away brings two main reactions to most regular watchers:

  • a) It makes you shout the word ‘WIIILLSSOOOONN’ anytime you see a volleyball, and…
  • b) It makes you really hope you never get stranded on a South Pacific island in a plane crash.

Seriously though, there isn’t an awful lot that could really prepare you for something like this. Maybe if Tom had read these handy survival gadgets and survival gear, then it might have been a little easier, but no, all he had was a few FedEx packages and a new ball-shaped best mate.

2) The Edge

Alec Baldwin and Anthony Hopkins are getting stalked by a rather smart grizzly bear after a plane crash leaves them stranded in the wilderness. Is this not enough for you? C’mon people. Baldwin and Hopkins getting chased by a bear?!

Anyway, though they may not have had the chance to browse through our guide of Bear Grylls Survival Tips, Anthony did briefly skim a survival book of some sort before his plane went down, turning him into an absolute outdoor ace. Obviously.

3) Kon-Tiki

A historical drama film about the 1947 Kon-Tiki expedition, this Norwegian film got an Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language film department in 2012.

The exploration of Thor Heyerdal’s 4,300-mile crossing of the pacific on a raft makes for gripping viewing, as the team take on all sorts of challenges in a bid to complete their journey alive.

4) 127 Hours

This is the true survival movie that everyone thinks of when you talk about outdoor survival movies. Would you be able to cut your own arm off if it was the only way you could survive? It’s like a question out of the Saw series!

Hell knows if we could do it, but one thing’s for sure – Aron Ralston, the dude whose story the film is based on, has some hardcore survival instincts. A doff of our cap to you, sir. And remember folks, it’s always worth investing in a good survival knife

5) The Way Back

Inspired by a memoir of a Polish prisoner of war who escaped from a Soviet Gulag during World War II, this 2010 film explores the journey of a group of escaped POWs who aim to walk 4,000 miles to gain their freedom in India. That’s four-times as far a The Proclaimers were prepared to go.

After escaping during a snowstorm, they face challenges ranging from a lack of survival food and water to a lack of energy, motivation, freezing nights and boiling days. Could we have done this? Err… no. Definitely not.

6) Deep Water

Deep Water is the documentary which tells the stunning tale of the catastrophic round-the-world yacht race of 1968, the first solo, non-stop boat race around the globe.

The film follows the story of Donald Crowhurst, a father of four who attempted to win the race and claim the £5,000 prize offered by The Sunday Times of London as a reward. After months on the water, Crowhurst began to radio a series of increasingly impressive daily distances to the mainland, where they were relayed to cheering crowds.

In reality though, the lone-sailor was slipping further and further off the pace of the race, lying about his position, far away from where the world thought he would be. As other competitors dropped out and he was left as one of just two remaining competitors, he went to extreme measures to conceal his deceit, and his tragedy only deepened…

7) Touching the Void

One of the most famous survival movies of recent times, and another based on an award-winning survival book, this is the amazing story of Joe Simpson and Simon Yates’ near fatal attempt to scale Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985.

No amount of survival first aid knowledge or survival courses can really help you when it truly all goes wrong, and when Simpson slipped down an ice cliff and landed awkwardly, crushing part of his knee joint and breaking his right leg, it looked like that was exactly what had happened.

In truth, this survival movie is one of the all time greats. If you’ve not seen it, get it on your list now!

8) Into the Wild

It’s one thing when extreme conditions plummet you into an outdoor survival situation, but when you find yourself in one because of your own actions, that’s quite another. Either way though, a survival situation is a survival situation.

Into the Wild is the story of Christopher McCandless, who after graduating as a top student from Emrory University, did what many of us have dreamed of, giving his money to a charity and hitchhiking his way into the Alaskan wilderness.

9) The North Face

The famous North Face is legendary when it comes to survival movies, survival books or just survival stories which stretch to every corner of the Earth. Found in the Swiss Alps, on the Eiger, the mountain has claimed numerous lives over the years.

Set in 1936, this 2008 film tells the true story of two German climbers who take on the infamous climb up the North Face during the rise of Nazi propaganda.

10) Life of Pi

Some would claim that this survival movie is actually just two and a bit hours of a dude on a boat with a tiger. Others would argue the same, but claim that doesn’t mean that the film is not still boss.

This is the tale of Pi Patel, a young man who survives a disaster at sea and soon finds himself on an epic adventurer with a Bengal tiger. Adrift in the Pacific Ocean, he needs to find a way to survive, and so ensues the award-winning two hour epic.

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