The story of All Is Lost begins with Our Man's boat getting hit by an abandoned shipping container, which breaches the boat's hull and thus sets in motion his quest for survival and ultimately the sinking of his boat. In retrospect though, the real devastating event is the storm he runs into, during which he makes one or the other roll with his boat, which thus gets unmaveurable and breached even more, filling with water yet again, which isn't helped by him getting knocked out for some time.

But even more than that, during the first few days of the story he even manages to successfully repair the breach from the shipping container as well as get rid of the flown-in water. It is only after he has repaired the boat into a fully functional form that he gets into the storm and throughout the entire storm and its aftermath the initial hull breach stays fixed. It thus made me wonder, how detrimental that initial collision with the container, that is supposed to set the story in motion, even was and if it actually had any influence on the further story after it was repaired.

Now of course, speculating what could have been if this or that didn't happen is of not much constructive use and I am not asking if any of the events in the movie could have happened in a different way (which they of course always could but never do). What I am looking for is an explanation or reasonable deduction what influence that initial collision and its aftermath had on the continuation of the story and the ultimate sinking of the boat in the specific way the story panned out in the movie. Or could it really be seen as just an independent incident as part of an "unlucky week", in contrast to the first mosaic stone in a chain of unfortunate events that is so commonly suggested?

  • The movie is about losing control over one's life, er, boat, piece by piece. The first incident is hurting but not sinking. Every time something happens the main protagonist somehow manages to cling to some pieces of the old life and seems to get on. But still with each incident he loses a bit more until he is completely on his own at the end. This first incident is a metaphor for an event that is manageable on its own. It may or may not have made it worse later in the storm (it certainly didn't help). But on its own it didn't sink the life, er, boat.
    – his
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 19:38
  • I don't have access to a copy of the movie so I'm writing a comment instead of an answer. As I recall the boat was taking on water after the storm faster than he could get the water out of the boat because of the previous damage. This lead me to believe that the boat was crippled/put at risk by the container and then sunk as a result of the additional damage sustained during the storm. I think either event would have been survivable, but the combination of the two resulted in the loss of the boat.
    – Erik
    Commented Oct 18, 2016 at 16:14
  • @Erik But he repaired the previous leak. After he did so the boat was pretty much in the state it was before the shipping container hit it. The water didn't get in faster due to the previous damage, the previous damage had no direct effect on it.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 1:08
  • @NapoleonWilson gotcha that's what I get for going by memory :)
    – Erik
    Commented Oct 19, 2016 at 1:10

1 Answer 1


It's the first link in a chain of unfortunate events. That's not to say it doomed him right from the start, but each incident reduced his options, and exposed him to greater hazard. The container didn't sink the ship, and he was able to patch the hole, but he lost time, and he lost most of his electronics. He couldn't call for help, and he couldn't get weather reports. Without weather reports the storm took him by surprise. He couldn't adjust his course to avoid the worst of the storm, and when the storm arrived he had very little time to rig his boat to cope.

The folks who study risky outdoor sports speak of 'traps': a series of incidents and decisions, none of which is fatal in itself, but which taken in sequence, lead to a situation from which there is no escape.

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