Friday, 8 July 2016

The Edge (1997)

I love being outside and I also love a good wilderness survival film and this is a fine one. I know I've backed off of writing full-length reviews but this is something I promised myself that I'd do a year or so back. A review of a wilderness survival film that actually mentions the techniques used throughout and if those techniques were successful or not.

I'm not an expert just a passionate amateur and the following is a list of the techniques either described or practised in the film.

Equipment = Folding knife, flares, paper clip, three broken watches, canvas satchel, leather belt

  • Escape from downed plane in water
  • CPR on drowning victim
  • Dry wet clothes
  • Firelighting with matches [fail - because of inadequate tinder]
  • Firelighting with flare
  • Letting fire burn out [fail]
  • Using Flares for signalling [fail - they use them all for fire building]
  • Indication of travel direction [fail - they removed a vital note]
  • Importance of thinking/planning/attitude
  • Direction finding using analogue watch [fail - all watches broken]
  • Direction finding using bird migration route [described]
  • Direction finding using magnetised paper clip
  • Direction finding using two points
  • Move slowly backward away from a bear [fail - they started ok and then panicked]
  • Moving calmly and purposefully [fail - running away from bear with little regard to terrain]
  • Do not panic [fail - running away from bear]
  • Making a log bridge to cross a river
  • Crossing log bridge sensibly [fail - keep a low centre of gravity]
  • Drying clothes after getting wet [fail - did not light a fire immediately in a very cold environment]
  • Finding a high point to navigate from
  • Navigation in a straight line [fail - possibly got turned around during bear panic or from interference from a metal object]
  • Not losing or throwing away equipment [fail - threw away magnetised paper clip]
  • Build a makeshift spear
  • Keeping busy
  • Knife use/safety [fail - leg wound from making spear]
  • Bandaging
  • Burying blood-stained clothing in bear country [fail - Baldwin is told to bury the clothing but doesn't]
  • Fire building [fail - fire too large and with no reflector]
  • Shelter building [fail - lean-to has far too large an opening, too little thatch and has no ground insulation]
  • Direction finding using stars
  • Camping in a forest during a thunderstorm [fail - although they had no real choice]
  • Bear attack [fail - panic, stays on the ground]
  • Bear attack [pass - stands ground, does not run, uses burning branch]
  • Camp in a sheltered spot [fail - on top a barren mountainside]
  • Fire building [fail - again, no reflector]
  • Knife use/safety [pass - cutting away from your body]
  • Food gathering
  • Trap building [pass, although a deadfall would be more efficient as it takes much less work. Less work = more calories saved]
  • Signalling to a rescue helicopter [fail - they were in a heavily forested area with no signal method]
  • How to build fire using ice [described]
  • Keep your companions calm
  • Fishing using a watch chain as a lure, a thorn as a hook and jumper thread as a line [I'd have preferred to see several threads combined to make a stronger line]
  • Bear attack [pass - fire circle]
  • Spear building with fire-hardened tips
  • Swinging spike trap
  • Descent down a scree slope [fail - you don't do a huge jump at the top. The bear did a far better job of it ]
  • Fire building [fail - another fire that's too big and with no reflector]
  • Cooking meat on a spit [personally, I think the chunks of meat were too big and that they could have smoked some thin strips as well]
  • Direction finding using magnetised watch hand
  • Making clothes and backpack out of bear skin [we'll skip over scraping away the fat and the tanning process]
  • Deadfall trap [Hopkins refers to it as a dead fall but it's actually a pit trap]
  • Keeping gun and ammunition in good order [fail - Hopkins ejects the shells from the rifle and leaves them. Remember that at this point they're still not rescued]
  • Makeshift tourniquet using a belt [fail - applied pressure would have been better]
  • Rifle as a splint [fail - two branches would have been better rather than possibly gumming up the mechanism on the rifle]
  • Pulse checking [pass - correct method used although very quickly]
  • Fire building [fail - no reflector, yet again]
  • Signal fire [fail - they should have had one set up ready rather than quickly having to improvise]
  • Foraging [fail - no foraging in the entire film. Berries, nuts etc. take far less energy to gather for the amount gained than meat]

Their #1 failure, however, is that they moved away from the plane wreck in the first place. Stay where you are unless absolutely necessary. Over all though, Hopkins' character did a fine job in a shitty situation - attitude is everything.

A fine film and that was one beautiful Kodiak!

I've written a similar woodcraft/survival based review for Man Vs. if you're interested.

Letterboxd Review

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