Off the Grid: 10 Movies About Isolation


The Brazilian government has recently sectioned-off a 31-square mile area for one very isolated man. He is believed to be the last member of his tribe, and to have never had contact with modern society. Sound like a captivating story? Like something M. Night Shyamalan might like to tackle (and ruin)? Authors and filmmakers alike have been enamored of the concept of the lone wolf for years. Here are 10 of the most isolated characters in film.

Harry Caul in The Conversation : Harry Caul (played by Gene Hackman) is a top-notch surveillance expert who takes every precaution in being untraceable, including a triple-lock door, an office enclosed in mesh and always using pay phones to make calls. The film revolves around his recording of a conversation between a couple who he convinces himself are in dire trouble.

Chance Gardner in Being There : Peter Sellers plays a slow gardener who’s never left the walls of his employer’s Georgetown mansion until the old man dies. Thrown out in to the world for the first time, we as an audience get to see Chance clash with late ’70s DC.

Emmeline and Richard in The Blue Lagoon : Two children are shipwrecked on to a tropical island. They grow up with little knowledge of the society they were thrown from, the two eventually lose the desire to be rescued while developing a casual and naive attitude toward sex, which will eventually leave Emmeline pregnant.

Xi in The Gods Must Be Crazy : This kooky 1980 comedy begins when a careless airplane pilot drops an empty Coca-Cola bottle in to Africa. The bottle is found by a hereto isolated tribe of Africans. At first the bottle is a new tool for the tribe, but when jealousy begins to spread, Xi, a man of the tribe decides he throw it off the edge of the world. The part of Xi was played by N!xau, a Nambian bush farmer.

John the Savage in Brave New World : The year is 2540 and “everyone belongs to everyone else.” Reproduction has been turned into a science and the World State is sound. So when Bernard (played by Peter Gallagher in this made-for-TV version) and Lenina want some adventure they head to a Savage Reservation. There they meet John “the Savage” (played by Tim Guinee) who’s never been to the World State. Bernard decides to take them to the “brave new world,” and we get a clash of cultures.

Chuck Noland in Cast Away : FedEx employee and husband Chuck Noland is in a plane crash that lands him on a completely deserted island. With only a volley ball named Wilson for company, Noland deals with the isolation for four years. When he finally escapes and returns to civilization, he finds all of his friends assumed he had died and his wife has remarried.

Edmond Dantes in The Count of Monte Cristo : After escaping a sentence in a remote French prison, Dantes finds a large treasure, allowing him to return to France in style and take his revenge. Admittedly this is a case where, rather than loosing touch with the world, our castaway takes his time to plot his triumphant return to society.

Chris McCandless in Into the Wild : In the film adapted from Jon Krakauer’s book of the same title, McCandless (played by Emile Hirsch) decides to trek to the Alaskan wilderness after graduating college, giving up his money and most other pleasantries of society, including other people.

Wall-E in Wall-E : One of the Waste Allocator Load Lifter Earth Class robots left to clean up the Earth, our hero Wall-E works hard with only an invincible termite as a side kick, twirling to old VHS video with a trash can top. That is, until a spaceship lands and Wall-E meets Eve, who he immediately falls for.

Sam Bell in Moon : Sam Bell is the sole employee of Lunar Industries nearing the end of his three-year tour of duty mining the lunar surface. Within weeks of finally returning to his family, Bell begins to hallucinate and eventually crashes his rover. While in the infirmary, he becomes suspicious of his automated assistant, GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey).