Cast Away

Answer: Cast Away was filmed on an island called Monuriki. It's part of a group of islands called the Mamanuca Islands, in Fiji.

Question: At the end when the pick-up truck drives away, there is an angel on the back flap of it, similar to the angel in the garden of the house where Tom Hanks delivers the parcel. Are we to assume that the parcel belongs to the woman in the pick-up, and that this is significant in some way?

Answer: It's the same women. It's a little complicated. The angel wings are a recurring plot device to show that the parcel Tom Hanks just delivered to the ranch belongs to the woman (who is an artist) in the truck, which also has the wings painted on the tailgate. There are also metal wing wind sculptures in her yard. The wings are her artist's "logo." As Hanks stands in the crossroads deciding where to go, his looking back in the direction that she just drove off implies he will go back to her house, probably to let her know that her package gave him hope while he was on the island that he could someday deliver that package, and possibly to restart his life with her (she is pretty, after all). She was married to the guy in Russia who she was sending packages to, but he was cheating on her. If you notice the gateway over the entrance to her property where another package was delivered at the beginning of the movie, both her name and her husband's were on the overhead ironwork, as well as the angel wings. At the end, his name has since been removed, indicating she is now single.


Wow, you are extremely observant. Thank you, I was totally confused at the end.

You're welcome.


Also, the artist would have been on the island with him just like Kelly was in the watch.

Answer: The Angel wings are an important symbolic thread that run throughout the move. They appear in several scenes. They represent love/hope/salvation. We first see them in a seemingly unrelated scene at the pretty redhead artist's ranch when she is still married to the cheater dude. She sends him the wings on a package but the package is not important. Rather the Wings on the package are important. She intended the wings to go to her cheating husband but instead they went to Chuck. Chuck preserves the wings. He caresses the wings. Later we see that he has drawn dozens of the same wings on the inside of his cave wall. On the raft, he takes only Wilson and the Wings which he carefully wraps in leaves. When finally delivering them home, Chuck writes "this package saved my life" when he means hope/love/salvation have saved his life. The wings have make the exact same journey as Chuck. They have finally returned to the redhead and bought Chuck with them.

I agree with your assessment, though the wings also serve as a practical plot device. It helps the audience to recognize and track the package as it moves through the story and for Chuck to link it to the woman's truck at the end, which also had the wings painted on the tailgate.


Nailed it! My thoughts exactly I just needed confirmation that all of this was reasonable to assume. Thank you.

Answer: The package that Mrs. Peterson sends to her husband in Russia contains divorce papers. The winged package that Tom Hanks' character saves as an unfinished task represents his desire to eventually deliver. He opens all the other packages and finds a few useful items. And the package sent by Mrs. Peterson, he uses to motivate himself to make that delivery. He only took bare essentials on the raft when he leaves the island. This package is essential to him. For some reason, he does not deliver the package to the destination to which it was addressed, but instead takes it back to the original sender. It helps close the loop in a way that could not have been done if he just delivered to the original destination 5 years late.

But why would there need to be such a big box for divorce papers? On the island, he opens a document mailer.

Question: Does anyone know what's officially in the mystery package and why Chuck never opens it, or is it just a 'McGuffin' like the briefcase in Pulp Fiction?

Answer: No one knows what was in the package. I think Chuck doesn't open it in order to keep his sanity. The package is his only link to his life before being stranded, working for FedEx and making sure packages get delivered. He was determined to make sure it got delivered just as he was determined to survive and get back to civilization. Success in one meant success in the other. While Zemeckis has joked there was a waterproof satellite phone in it, the real answer from the script is, no joke, salsa verde. Its a care package with a note imploring Bettina's (the artist) husband (naked cowboy) to come back and spice up their life like the salsa.

Answer: The package he got had divorce papers in them. He signed them and then placed them back in the package for return to her.

Here's my spin. Bettina's husband travels and is on assignment in Moscow. He's cheating on her, she knows it, files for divorce, and sends the papers through FedEx to him in Moscow. He signs them and returns in the same box. They end up on Chuck's flight, which crashes. He recovers them but decides not to open them. They re-file for divorce. Chuck returns the box, gazes down the road, and decides to go back and tell his story to her. They laugh about the old papers and live happily ever after.

Answer: In the third draft of the movie there's a scene where Chuck opens the package and finds salsa and a note from the woman in the beginning asking her husband to come home. It's also revealed that she doesn't mind that he never got the package. Pretty unsatisfactory, probably why it was cut and left a mystery.

Question: Was the whale in the night scene in the raft an illusion? I only ask because it faded away instead of going under the water. Is this intentional or just bad special effects? Thanks.

Answer: I noticed this too. He is really seeing a whale. This scene shows what is coming as a whale wakes him up in time to see the ship. As for the special effects, that is still up in the air.


The whale is he's guided salvation to being rescued when the cargo ship goes past waking him up with water sprays.

Question: What caused Chuck's gum to swell?

Answer: He had a bad tooth that he had delayed getting fixed. He mentions it before leaving on the plane. An abscess then developed in his gums.


Question: About an hour in, when he is opening the Fed Ex packages, we see him open a divorce decree and set it aside. I assumed this was in relation to the package picked up towards the beginning in Russia at the cheating husband's place, and we see at the end the artist girl is apparently now divorced. Yet he supposedly never opened her package. Wouldn't it have been the signed the divorce papers?

Answer: The divorce decree in the package that Chuck opens is not from the woman in Texas who was married to the cheating husband in Russia. I watched the YouTube clip, and the name on the divorce papers is someone named Michael Street, who lives in Jakarta, Indonesia, and is unrelated to the story. The couple from Texas are named Dick and Bettina Petersen.


Answer: The director joked on the DVD commentary about there being a solar-powered satellite phone in the last package. The joke being that if Hanks had just opened that last package, he would have been immediately rescued by calling for help. However, the comment was only in jest, and was never meant to be taken seriously. It was never shown what was in that last package.


Question: In the beginning of the movie, Chuck gives Kelly a small golden gift. He tells her not to open it until New Years. What was in it?

Answer: It was an engagement ring. Chuck was going to propose to her when he returned.


Question: If the package got delivered to the cheating husband, which we see in the scene where he receives it shirtless wearing a cowboy hat, then how did that package end up back on a plane headed to the USA and crash and wash up on beach? Wouldn't that package have been opened by said cheating husband?

Answer: I just re-watched the movie, and realise my previous answer is wrong. Here is what happened. Bettina Petersen, the lady on the Texas ranch, sends a FedEx package to her husband in Russia. She appears to regularly send out packages via FedEx, possibly to customers of her artwork. When the driver picks up the outgoing package, she tells him she will have another on Thursday. That, presumably, is the package that is aboard the doomed FedEx plane that Chuck is on and the one he returns to her four years later.


But why should that parcel return to her?

It "shouldn't" do anything. If the package raywest is referring to is in fact a second package to whoever, really, that just so happened to be on Chuck's plane, there wasn't actually a reason to return it, he just chose to return it to the sender if he ever made it off that island because that package was his saving grace and his will to get back home. That's the only reason he never opened it and why he returned it just so he could thank them by saying it saved his life.

Chuck returns it to the woman in Texas because it's the closest location. The woman was sending the package overseas, so it's unlikely Chuck would travel out of the country to deliver it. Instead, he returns it to the sender.


Answer: It appears the package he received contained the divorce papers, which he would have signed and then returned to the woman in the U.S. in a different package.


Might be possible! And maybe for the reason Bettina Peterson never got them she just took of her ex-husbands name at the ranch to just live free for herself again after her husband cheated on her.

Answer: The package delivered to the soon to be ex-husband has pink wings and the package Chuck never opens has gold wings.

Question: Considering that Chuck had been on the island for four years, would he actually still have all of his teeth or would he have lost them all? From all the things that he saw in the packages that he opened, not one of them had anything to keep his teeth clean.

Answer: Even without dental care for four years, it would take far longer for a generally healthy person to lose their teeth if they had previously maintained proper oral hygiene. Chuck's diet was a factor (little or no sugar) and he could also fashion a primitive toothbrush or toothpick from materials on the island. Ancient humans had relatively little tooth decay. It was after sugar was introduced into the European (and later American) diet in the 11th century, that dental problems started becoming more prevalent.


Answer: It's possible that he could keep his teeth, provided he doesn't eat too many sugars. Just think of all the cultures throughout history and today that do not brush their teeth. They certainly have dental issues compared to those who regularly brush and see a dentist, but it's not like none of them have teeth.


Answer: Toothpaste and toothbrushes (+ floss) are not the only things that can be used to clean teeth! (What did people use before toothpaste and toothbrushes were manufactured?) A CLEAN finger can be used or a wet piece of cloth - and some fruits (e.g, apple) and vegetables (e.g, carrot) can help remove gunk from teeth. He had access to sea salt, which could help. If he "wiped" his teeth (after every meal and snack), he would be able to avoid plaque and tartar buildup. Toothpaste in and of itself is NOT necessary - it is added flavor to supposedly make brushing teeth taste better (e.g, bubblegum flavor for kids), be more pleasant (and thereby encourage people to brush longer), and/or add fluoride. Few, if any, people make it through adult life without a cavity, but there's no significant factor during his four years that would make him lose all of his teeth! The information given in the previous answers is also relevant.


Answer: I wasn't told as a kid I had to brush my teeth every day. I brushed them only before going to the dentist or a special occasion, would sometimes go months without brushing. I only started brushing properly after puberty and I still have each and every single one of my teeth. They're a bit yellower than average, but not that bad. Even with smoking all my life and practically living of sugar, most people actually think I have pretty decent teeth and I never get comments about having bad teeth. They do tell me that if this had gone on for much longer, I would regret it and my gums have retracted a bit from all the tartar, but this makes me assume that, being healthy, you can probably go at least 10 years with poor mouth hygiene before your teeth actually start rotting.

Question: Does anybody know where the opening scene with the 'cowboy' is set? Definitely not in Moscow.

Answer: The scene with the "cowboy" is set in Russia. Bettina Peterson, the artist in Texas ships something (presumed by some to be divorce papers) to a man also named Peterson in Russia. If you pay attention the sign at the ranch has both Bettina and her husband's name on it at the beginning of the film but by the end the husband's name has been removed. What her husband was doing in Russia is never explained. In addition to the FedEx driver speaking Russian to himself, if you listen closely you can hear passersby speaking Russian as well.


Question: How does Chuck collect his supply of drinking water? We see him drinking from a coconut and a curled up leaf on the ground. We also see a small drip in his cave, but these small amounts don't seem like enough water to sustain life. We don't see how Chuck may have collected the rain water for future use.

Answer: As you pointed out, Chuck used a combination of methods to get just enough water and fluids to survive. In addition to the ones you mentioned, he was also drinking coconut milk, and he could also distill fresh water from sea water (and even urine) by using a piece of plastic, broad leaves, etc. to cover the pooled liquid and catch the evaporation. Eventually he would have enough make-shift containers to collect rain water during thunderstorms to be stored in the coconut shells. Any fruits on the island would also provide fluids.


Answer: In that area they have two seasons - the dry season and the rainy season. Dry season means it doesn't rain every day. The volcanic rock will provide many pools of rain water. It should be easy to make a catch basin of some sort if necessary. The hard part is not getting sick from drinking after crabs, amoebas and what have you, but there's plenty of sand and coconut husk to make a filtration system.

Question: I have a problem with the scene where Chuck makes a fire by rubbing sticks. While it is possible to make a fire by the rubbing sticks, don't you need to run the stick against bamboo for the trick to work?

Answer: The point of the scene is that he has no idea what he's doing.

Chuck is using the fire plough method. A very established method. This and the fire saw method probably resulted in early sailors bringing back stories of."natives rubbing sticks together" to create fire.

Answer: You can use any wood (although technically bamboo is a grass and not wood), it just should be very dry wood. He's employing the fire trench method where the friction is created by rubbing one stick at a 45° angle against a trench in a wood plank (his trench looks to have been created because the plank was slit).


Actually, I looked up how to make a fire by rubbing sticks because asking this question, and I misread it as suggesting using bamboo. It was actually suggesting using coconut wood.

Question: In the easter eggs it says that you can find out what is in the un-opened FedEx package. I don't have the DVD, but what's in the package?

Answer: According to, "Robert Zemeckis was asked at a Q&A session at USC what was in the unopened packaged. He replied that it was a waterproof, solar-powered, satellite phone."

T Poston

Of course this is just a joke and one that had to be made, but not taken seriously. Had it been a satellite phone and he opened it, there would not be much of a movie plot left.

Question: I've always had an sequence issue with the saved package that Chuck delivers to the lady "Bettina" in the truck at the end. To me it could either be the return divorce papers from Russia, or just happens to be some other delivery, since she appears to be a regular FedEx customer. Either way doesn't matter here for me. The issue/questions is, if the plane that crashed over the Pacific left the FedEx hub in Memphis, TN then why is a package that is destined for somewhere in Texas taking the long route way over the Pacific, rather than just go from Memphis to Texas the short way? The "Dissolution of Marriage Agreement" (1:02:23), shows from Law office in Santa Fe, NM destined for Jakarta Indonesia (over the Pacific). Has anyone else reconciled this delivery route dilemma?


Chosen answer: Memphis is the "hub" for FedEx. It is a waste of time and energy and money if they send every package exactly where it is destined to go, directly. Instead, every single package goes to one place, where they are grouped and sorted do that they can fill trucks with packages all going to the same destination. In the movie, he brings it back to the original sender of the package, he does not bring it to whom it was originally being sent, which is why he brought it back at the end.

Answer: This package cannot be the same one she sent in the beginning scene. It had pink wings on it! The one Chuck found had golden wings on it. Remember she told the fed ex man to come back on Thursday she had another one to send. This one had to be the one Chuck found.

Answer: Yes, it was being shipped and Chuck returned it to Texas. That's why they play Elvis' Return To Sender.

So this could have been the signed returned divorce papers in a new package with golden wings and not her original sent package with pink wings?

Answer: 1st and foremost any packages she would receive would not have the wings, only packages she sends would have them.

Answer: So that leads me to believe these were not the divorce papers. She was the sender of the 2nd package.

Question: When Kelly shows Chuck the map on the dining room table she shows him where he was rescued by the ship and where "his island" was located. How was it determined exactly where the island was?

Duderino Lebowski

Answer: The dining room map scene conveys a more important message than the location of the island. Kelly had dedicated the entire dining room to charting all activity and information related to Chuck's possible location. Think about it. She has a husband. She has a family. Yet a main room in their house is dedicated to tracking Chuck. Then look at Chuck's expression when he comes to realise this fact. He is amazed and taken back a bit while Kelly acts like it's perfectly normal. Clearly Kelly is still in love with Chuck.

There is nothing in the room that implies that she had dedicated a room in their house to Chuck's disappearance for the entire time. More likely, once he disappeared, she did whatever she could to try and find him. After the search was called off and they had a funeral, she probably packed away these items, only taking them out when new information was learned. once he was found, she probably took it all out again, anticipating he would eventually go there, or she just wanted to label on the map where he was and figure out how close they were to finding him. Ultimately, I would think a husband that has a wife that is SO obsessed with finding her ex-boyfriend for multiple years, to the point of constantly needing the search materials on a table out and visible to all - he would be insane to put up with that. At first, sure...but no way he is putting up with it for that long, taking up the only dining room table they have.


Chosen answer: The island's location could be determined by compiling pieces of information, including the dates and locations of where the plane crashed into the ocean, when and where the cargo ship found Chuck, and how long he was adrift to and from the island. Chuck, an experienced sailor, was obsessed with tracking time. He knew when he left the island because he had created an analemma, a type of calendar that charts star movement throughout the year, seen on the cave wall. Wind factors, weather conditions, and ocean currents would also be on record for those times and locations, and, depending on how long Chuck drifted on open water, his course could later be calculated by computer modeling and the island's (or its approximate) coordinates determined.


Also, I am sure that he was either shown, by FedEx or the freighter, a map of where the ship found him on the raft. After living on the island for so long; mapping it and trying to find any way to escape, he probably would be able to easily identify the island, especially after being shown a map with tide charts.

Question: What is that green thing that Chuck tries to break open by throwing it against a rock wall, and then by hitting it with a rock? Is it really that difficult to break open?

Answer: They were coconuts. Coconuts come in a green shell which is their husk and they are hard to open up, especially when they get older. Most people use a machete or pick ax to get the husk off.


Is the shell as difficult to break open as shown in the movie?

The film does seem to accurately depict how hard it would be for someone who has never opened one before to get into a green coconut. I've never tried throwing one against a rock wall before though.


I was asking if the shell is as difficult to break open by hitting it with a rock as shown in the movie.

For someone who has never tried opening a green coconut, yes it would be.


The inner shell itself is not that difficult to open. Using a pointed rock, you can break through the round-shaped holes at the end to pour out of the liquid. By hitting the coconut's seam running lengthwise down the shell hard against a rock, it will completely split the shell in two around the circumference.


I'm talking about opening the outer shell, not the inner shell.

Answer: It sure is. You have to be gentle when you break it so all the water doesn't just go everywhere, like it would if you pounded it with say, a large rock.


Question: How come Wilson never deflates from the time Chuck opens the parcel to the time it falls off the raft and is swept away? A normal ball would go flat after a period of time, but 4 years on and Wilson is fully pumped. Does Chuck have a pump?


Answer: Look closely. In the later scenes, Wilson's entire top is gone, now filled with dirt and grass to give him the illusion of hair.

Brian Katcher

Thanks Brian.


Question: I recently submitted a "mistake" which revealed my own misunderstanding. The package that Chuck eventually delivers to Bettina had been sent to her partner in Moscow, which COULD explain its presence on a westbound trans-Pacific flight. Still, would a package sent from Memphis to Moscow be routed through southeast Asia? It would be shorter, and therefore faster, would it not, to send it across the Atlantic?


Answer: There are two packages sent by Bettina Peterson. The first we see goes to Russia to a man also named Peterson. The second never reaches its destination but we don't know where exactly it was being sent. That second package must have been going somewhere that required it being routed through Malaysia.


Agree with your answer, but something else occurred to me. Bettina appears to be sending out packages via FedEx fairly regularly. She is an artist, and may sell her work internationally. While she does create large-scale wing sculptures, she may also do smaller types of metal artwork, jewelry, etc. We assume she was only mailing packages to her cheating husband, but she could have been sending something to a customer in Southeast Asia.


I found an earlier version of the script that explains this. After rescue, FedEx looked at the husband's records, which indicate he had moved from Russia to Kuala Lumpur. The package on the plane was being sent from the lady in Texas to there. The FedEx people could not locate a current address for the now ex-husband, so Tom returned it to the sender address in Texas.

Question: When Chuck sees the ship and starts waving the torch around, is he really doing SOS by moving his hand in front of it repeatedly?

Answer: No, morse code would be three short flashes (dots = S) followed by three long ones (dashes = O).

Question: Why doesn't Chuck just leave from the other side of the island?

Answer: Probably a variety of reasons. He could not have dragged the heavy raft to the island's other side. Even if he could, it's unlikely there was a flat clear path to get there. There may not have been an accessible beach on that side where he could launch from or that was suitable for establishing a new camp where he could build the raft.


Factual error: Shortly after the crash, when Chuck is in the raft, one of the engines continues to run even though it is half submerged in water. The engine would not have exploded like it did, rather, it would have just stopped running as soon as it became disconnected from its fuel source and flooded with water.

Upvote valid corrections to help move entries into the corrections section.

Suggested correction: The aircraft seems like a Airbus A300 or 310 but it is really a MD-11 or DC-10 because you can clearly see that the front body with wing with engine attached sink leaving the tail section. So the tail has a fuel tank and the third engine. The engine normally compresses air then burns it by feeding in fuel and igniting it. But can't compress air because the turbines are in the water. The fuel would in this case would "flood" the engine then the igniter ignites it and explodes.

Fumes explode, raw fuel burns. Igniter will not ignite raw fuel nor would there be anyway to propagate the explosion that took place.

Even if the engine was flooded, and full of water, and the air couldn't, it still wouldn't explode. MD-11 engines run on a fuel that cannot be ignited.

Wrong, the tail section has fuel LINES not a fuel tank.

More mistakes in Cast Away

Chuck Noland: I couldn't even kill myself the way I wanted to. I had power over nothing.

More quotes from Cast Away

Trivia: When the shots on the island were finished, the sound had to be completely redone, as the surf was too loud.

More trivia for Cast Away

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