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ALL IS LOST Is The Greatest Outdoor Movie Ever Made

Welcome back to THE ROCK FIGHT, an outdoor podcast that aims for the head.

Today we not only have another outdoor movie review for you, we have an outdoor movie review of the greatest outdoor movie ever made: ALL IS LOST!

Why does this 2013 JC Chandor movie that stars Jeremiah Johnson himself, Robert Redford hold the best outdoor movie of all time championship belt? Listen to this episode of THE ROCK FIGHT to find out!

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Welcome to the rock fight where we speak our truth, slay sacred cows and sometimes agree to disagree. I’m Colin True and today it’s time for an outdoor movie review of the 2013 JC Chandor film starring Robert Redford…ALL IS LOST. Does this incredibly unique movie make me want to go outside? You know the highest achievement an outdoor themed movie can accomplish? Listen to find out.

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Alright, let’s start the show.

I’m just going to come right out and say it. ALL IS LOST is the greatest outdoor movie ever made.

There is one other outdoorsy movie that we’re going to be covering on this show very soon that may also be in the conversation with ALL IS LOST but this, my friends, is what any outdoor movie should strive for.

If you’re new to THE ROCK FIGHT you should know that movies that are glorified clip reels aren’t eligible for outdoor movie reviews. The best example of what I’m talking about are Warren Miller ski flicks. I hate them. And not just warren miller or ski movies. I’m not going to sit and watch a bike or surf or climbing clip reels either. Those are not movies. They’re relics of a distant past when I couldn’t pull a metal rectangle out of my pocket and watch outdoor athletes do something cool for 27 seconds and then go on with my day. I respect their place in our community’s history. But find them boring as hell and despite the effort it takes to make them incredibly unoriginal.

I do, however, enjoy mainstream movies that try to integrate elements of our outdoor community into them.

ALL IS LOST is a freaking unicorn because it combines elements of a regular traditional adventure film with hollywood movie making. And while I can’t imagine anyone watching ALL IS LOST and not liking it; I have to believe it will resonate with you even more if you are part of our outdoor community.

The whole thing is a survival story. Start to finish a total of one person caught in a specific set of circumstances and what do they do to not die for an hour and 45 minutes.

I’m not a sailboat guy at all. Because I am a total control freak and the thought of being on a small craft in the middle of the biggest thing in the world completely removed from any help in any form scares the hell out of me. The odds of dying in the middle of nowhere on terra firma may be as bad as they would be in the ocean but at least on land I can delude myself into thinking I can walk and move until I find help. The ocean? It's just you on a boat. And in that way ALL IS LOST is also a horror flick.

Because this movie expertly toys with your emotions. Every struggle we see our protagonist go through starts with an incredible sense of doom and dread until we go through the process of solving that particular problem, giving us hope that maybe things will work out alright even though the movie opens with almost all of the dialog we hear in the entire movie and is a last will & testament. So even as things look like we may be good, we can’t shake that knowledge that actually, it’s probably not going to be ok.

Which is what happens in a lot of horror movies but in this film there are only 51 words spoken (apparently the shooting script was only 31 pages long) and the musical score is used sparingly and all of that silence gives us plenty of time to think about being in the situation we’re watching unfold and pondering…what would I do if this were me.

And this is why I’m calling ALL IS LOST the greatest outdoor movie of all time. The best thing a movie can do to be effective is leverage the empathy of the viewer to relate to what they're watching on screen. When we become invested in the characters and the story being told a movie becomes more successful and honestly makes it easier for us to ignore or miss plot holes.

If you are of the outdoorsy persuasion, this movie will grab you by the throat and not let go. Because regardless of the activity, we have all either been in some sort of situation like we find our protagonist or had nightmares about being in some sort of situation like we find our protagonist.

Letting our minds go to dark places when it comes to the stuff we do outside is part of the reason we go out there. If we wanted to play it safe we’d all just go play pickleball.

A few years ago I came up with the notion of the backyard epic. The thinking being that if an EPIC is when a trip goes off the rails and you have to spend unintended nights outside because of something going wrong or a poor decision than a backyard epic was when a planned short outing turned into something that took up most of the day. So it wasn’t quite a true EPIC, you’d still end up in your bed that night, but shit definitely went sideways in a way you weren’t expecting.

A personal backyard epic of mine was on a mountain biking trip to Moab when I broke from my group one morning to go for a run and then at the last minute I changed where I was going running. During my run I lost the trail and found myself cliffed out and it occurred to me that no one knew where I was. My crew had already left to go biking when I changed my plan and I didn’t leave a note and there was no cell phone reception so I couldn’t call or text anyone. At that moment I started having thoughts of Aron Ralston (who ironically had been trapped not that far from where I stood on that day) and thinking ‘holy shit, this could get bad’. I had to calm myself down, backtrack and bit and finally found the trail so all I ended up being was slightly delayed. However, that risk and the way I had to handle it and ultimately learn from it (I don’t go anywhere without letting someone know where I’ll be) was why I was in Moab in the first place.

So when you sit in front of a movie like ALL IS LOST with a heart full of understanding what it’s like to be scared and unsure in an environment where it doesn’t take much for you to die? Yeah it hits home.

Watching Redford solve one extraordinary problem like a gaping hole in the side of his boat and then dealing with his boat being compromised during a storm, making that effort to fix the first problem all for nothing to then taking his resolve and ability to find solutions into a life raft and for that to not work out as multiple ships pass him by. You feel your hope erode throughout the film as it barrels to the final scene.

You know nothing about the person you're watching and yet because of a similarly placed sense of adventure, you understand what must be going through their head.

ALL IS LOST taps into the psyche of an outdoor enthusiast in a way few other films have or even attempt to. It’s simple yet complex, raw yet elegant. I was enamored with this film from the jump. Did it make me want to go outside? Absolutely. Not because I want to court certain death and be in compromising situations. But because I love doing things outside where that is a distinct possibility.

This is a movie everyone should watch…but especially if you like to go outside.

That’s our show for today. Please before you go give us a 5 star rating and follow or subscribe wherever you are listening to this podcast. It’s the single best way to support the show.

Have you seen ALL IS LOST or have a movie you’d like to see reviewed on THE ROCK FIGHT? Send your suggestions to

We’ll be back soon with more ideas that aim for the head. The rock fight is a production of rock fight, llc. I’m Colin True. Thanks for listening. And here to take us out is Chris DeMakes from Less Than Jake with the rock fight fight song. We’ll see you soon rock fighters!


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