“Hunger, love, pain, fear are some of those inner forces, which rule the individual’s instinct for self preservation” (Albert Einstein)
It is evident that under any circumstances, mental, physical and emotional, humans determination can assist one’s survival. The texts “Touching the Void” written by Joe Simpson, “Rabbit Proof Fence” directed by Phillip Noyce, “Trapped” written by Michael Northrop and (the film) “The Martian” directed by Scott Ridley all show how different individuals positive self talk and determination help characters to persevere through mentally and physically harsh and draining situations. It is when individuals in these texts/films use their positive mindset to persist they overcome these life endangering circumstances.
“Rabbit proof fence” By Phillip Noyce
The nature of survival was examined in the film “Rabbit Proof Fence” directed by Phillip Noyce. The first aspect of survival shown, is using your surroundings and nature to your advantage. This is demonstrated when Molly made a quick decision to run away from Moore River settlement, where all half-caste aboriginals were taken. Molly had to act fast when she saw the rain storm coming. She didn’t doubt her decision to run away, nor did she over think about how she was going to survive. Molly had a plan and was going to stick to it. We are shown a close up of Molly staring up at the sky watching the rainstorm move rapidly over the settlement, when she was told to go and take the pee bucket near the boob. Molly knew that if she left the settlement at the same time the rain started, with Daisy and Gracie, the rain would wash away and hide their tracks. This would mean that Moodoo (The settlements tracker of runaway kids) would have a hard time tracking them down as there would be no foot steps. “Come on, get your things, we’re going. We’re going home to mother.”(Molly) This quote tells the viewer that Molly does not want to stay at Moore River, she is willing to risk being captured if it means she gets to go home to her mother.
Another time in the film where this aspect is shown was when the girls used the rabbit-proof fence to find their way back to Jinglong. Molly realises that the fence will lead them home when the girls are getting help from a farmer’s wife in the outback. The women give the girls food and spare clothing to take with them on their journey. As the girls are beginning to walk again, the women shout out to them “Watch out for those boys, they go hunting along the fence.” As she says this, we are shown a medium distance shot showing Molly’s realisation, and she gives a little smile. This shows Molly is familiar with her surroundings near home and remembers the fence runs all the way from one end of Australia to the other and that it goes straight through Jinglong.
“Touching the Void” By Joe Simpson
The nature of survival was shown in the text “Touching the Void” directed by Joe Simpson. The first aspect of survival shown, is trusting yourself and your instincts. This is illustrated when Joe follows his instincts and decides to lower himself further down into the crevasse not knowing if that was a way out or a dead end. This scenario came after Simon had cut the rope to save himself from slipping down the mountain, which resulted in Joe falling into the mouth of a huge crevasse. Joe had been stuck on an ice ledge in the crevasse for more than 24 hours, not able to gain enough strength to pull himself out using the equipment he had. Joe knew that if he stayed where he was, he would lose his life on the ice ledge. The idea of lowering himself further into the crevasse was terrifying to Joe, but that was the only way he had a chance of survival. Joe says “The torment of anticipating something unknown, I hung shaking on the rope with my helmet pressed to the ice.” This quote tells the viewer that Joe was not aware of what was awaiting him further down the crevasse. It shows the viewer that to increase Joe’s chance of survival he has to trust his instincts even though it may cost him his life.
Another aspect that is demonstrated in the text “Touching the Void” by Joe Simpson is setting small achievable goals to help achieve the big goal. This aspect is shown throughout the whole text, but especially when Joe is making his way back to the camp where Simon and Richard were. Once Joe made it out of the crevasse alive, he realised that he still had to get off the mountain and back onto the glacier. By this time Joe was dehydrated, hungry, weak and suffering from hallucinations, but a voice in his head told Joe to keep going, it was his determination that was edging him on. “It was like there were two minds within me arguing the toss.” As Joe crawled his way across the harsh terrain, he used the watch to set manageable goals, this helps him to pass the monotony, pain and delusions. “The voice and the Watch urged me into motion… I kept moving… the voice told me to reach that point in half an hour. I obeyed. Sometimes I found myself slacking… I was told that I must reach the prescribed spot in time.” This quote shows us that although Joe was in excruciating physical and mental pain, his determination to make it as far as he could back to camp helped his survival. Also, we learn that setting small goals can help you to achieve the big goal, which for Joe was to make it back to camp and Simon.
“The Martian” By Scott Ridley
The nature of survival was presented in the film “The Martian” by Ridley Scott. The first aspect of survival shown is accepting the risks that may occur during the fight for survival. This is demonstrated when Mark Watney is sitting in the hatch, talking to the video camera, after waking up and realising that he had been left on Mars, with a piece of debris through his space suit that had kept him alive throughout the storm. As Mark is using medical equipment to pull out the piece of debris stuck in him, he says “I have no way of contacting NASA.” “ If the oxygenation breaks I will suffocate, if the water reclaimer breaks I’ll die of dehydration, if the hatch breaches I am just gonna implode, and if for some miracle that doesn’t happen, I will eventually run out of food.” We are shown a medium, eye level shot of Mark saying this to the video camera, with a slight edge of sarcasm in his voice as if it was a funny thing. This shows the viewer that Mark is aware of the risks that he is having to face on Mars, but he has chosen to accept them by turning them from a negative to a positive and joking to himself.
This aspect is also shown in the film “The Martian” when Commander Lewis and the team are told while on their journey home on the Hermes, that Rich Parnell, who works in astrodynamics at NASA has a plan that could bring Mark Watney home safely. The plan that he had come up with involved the Hermes space ship picking up supplies from Earth by doing a pass-by and then heading back to Mars so that Mark could use the MAV to intercept with the Hermes in space. As the team discuss the plan, Commander Lewis quotes “Consider the consequences, if we mess up the supply route we die, if we mess up the Earth gravity assist, we die, if we do everything perfectly we add 533 days to our mission, 533 more days before we see our families again, 533 days of unplanned space travel, if it’s mission critical, we die.” “Let’s go get our Boy,” This quote tells the viewer that there is a large list of consequences and risks that may occur if they decide to go back for Mark. But the team and Commander Lewis want to risk their own lives to ensure Marks survival.
“Trapped” by Michael Northrop
The nature of survival was set out in the text “Trapped” by Michael Northrop. The first aspect shown in this text was using the equipment that you have to assist your survival. This aspect was illustrated when the 7 kids had been stuck in school for more than 36 hours in the cold. Their hunger pangs were only getting bigger as the time went by. Les Goddard had an idea to break into the cafeteria to get food, but the only equipment they had was locked away in the workshop classroom. Scotty had earlier locked the classroom by pressing a button inside which closed and locked the door behind them as he left. “It would be easy to break into just smash the window.” Instantly Les volunteered himself to break both doors down. Once he had the hammer, all of them watched the cafeteria door smash and break. “We’d be breaking into the shop just so we could break into the cafeteria. That’s like one broken window and one blown-out lock, just so we can go scavenge some truly crappy food.”(Scotty Weems) Les used the equipment that they already had to assist in their survival. This shows us that sometimes you already have the resources needed to help you survive in any situation. In situations when it seems like nothing can be done, it is good to look around at the resources you already have wich may help you survive.
This aspect is also shown when Scotty notices that the emergency power isn’t going to come back on and the temperature is going to keep dropping. “The storm caused temperatures outside to drop well below -15 degrees and soon the school would drop to that too, the water had already frozen,” Elijah suggested that a fire was to be built, but there was no ventilation, no fireplace and nowhere to run if it got out of control. After a few hours of debating Les grabbed a metal trash can from one of the classrooms and placed it in the bathrooms, the furthest room away from the front of the school, so the smoke wouldn’t spread fast. He got some wood from the workshop and paper from the office and soon they had a fire. “The fire in a bin was working well” Les used the equipment already in school to create heat so no one would die of hypothermia. This shows the reader that if he hadn’t thought of using the equipment already there, there would be no heat to keep people alive.
Mental and physical survival has been demonstrated in many ways throughout the 4 texts/films : “Touching the Void”, “Rabbit Proof fence”, “Trapped” and “The Martian.” In all texts/films determination, perseverance and strength is what keeps the key characters going through life threatening and mentally draining situations. In “The Martian” Mark uses his determination to outsmart the land and grow his own food using the limited resources he has, on a planet where nothing grows. This is also demonstrated in “Rabbit proof Fence” when Molly is mentally and physically drained from walking for days without food or water in the dry, hot outback with Daisy. Her determination to make it back home to her mother, kept her going through the harsh conditions she was placed in. In “Touching the Void” Joe is faced with treacherous measures, he fights through the pain of a broken leg, extreme dehydration, hallucinations and ultimate frost bite. But regardless of the agony he dealt with “the voice” in his head wouldn’t give up. Lastly determination was shown in the text “Trapped” when Scotty was the only one who believed they would make it out of the school alive. His determination caused him to lead the group with positivity, although conditions in the school were only getting worse as the hours passed, he never said anything that wasn’t positive or helpful to their survival. From this the viewer learns that mental and physical survival is driven by self determination and perseverance and without these qualities survival is hard to overcome.
A person’s survival is determined by their perseverance and determination, that sees them through the tough situations they are put through. It is evident in the four texts: “Rabbit Proof Fence, “Touching the Void, “The Martian” and “Trapped”, key characters face life threatening situations, whether it is mental, physical or emotional. Each text has been analysed and described in this essay, showing the places in the text/film where these aspects have been shown. From this the viewer/reader learns that survival is achievable by being determined to survive.