Stranded: Eight Movies About Deserted-Island Dwellers

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Although Lost is a groundbreaking show in certain respects, its central theme—a group of people stranded on a remote island, surviving against the odds—is far from new. The idea of being stuck on a deserted island for an indefinite period of time has been explored in countless books, movies and television shows for probably about as long as there have been islands and boats. In honor of Lost, we’ve compiled a list of eight (see what we did there?) movies that chronicle the lives of the castaways and may have inspired J.J. Abrams’ deserted island-centric opus.

Paradise Lagoon

Set in turn-of-the-20th-century England, Paradise Lagoon is a case study in class structure. When a sea cruise goes awry, Lord Loam and his family find themselves stranded on an island with a handful of servants. Maybe back home Lord Loam is master, but when it comes to survival it’s Crichton the butler who has the upper hand. After the group is rescued and back on dry land, Loam takes undeserved credit for the family’s safety, and Crichton resigns to his role as servant. Sigh.


Swiss Family Robinson

Based on the 1812 novel by Johann David Wyss, Swiss Family Robinson tells the tale of a family headed to Australia that instead ends up shipwrecked somewhere in the East Indies. Fulfilling every kid’s fantasy, the family sets up its new home in a tree house. Not only do they have to keep food on the table, but they must remain vigilant against pirates and an unrealistic array of wild beasts, all the while maintaining strong family values.

Lord of the Flies

Also inspired by literature, this film brings author William Golding’s story of youthful dystopia to life. A group of boys end up marooned on an island after their plane crashes. With no adult supervision, a hieracrchy emerges. Hostility and primal instincts take over.

Island of the Blue Dolphins

The Island of the Blue Dolphins story—based on true events—begins when a young Native American girl and her brother are left behind on an island. Unable to save her brother from a pack of hungry wolves, she continues a life devoid of human contact until, years later, she leaves behind the only life she’s ever known to travel across the ocean with a group of white men. Sound familiar? Chances are you’ve probably done a book report on the 1960 novel on which the movie was based. At least, everyone on YouTube has.


Blue Lagoon

Richard and Emmeline Lestrange (Brooke Shields) are two young children left to their own devices after their ship catches fire and they’re washed ashore a south Pacific island. After the one surviving adult dies, the two youngsters learn to adapt to a world far different from the one they came from. As they mature into teens, issues of love and sexuality come into play for the cousins, and, lo and behold, their own little, blond island baby is born. This film (by the same director who brought us Grease) was so rousing it earned a sequel, which starred neither of the original leads.

Robinson Crusoe

This rendition of the 1719 novel of the same name chronicles the adventures of a shipwrecked merchant who—as the lone survivor of the ship’s crew—finds himself on a not-so-deserted island. Crusoe (played by a Daniel Day-Lewis-channeling Pierce Brosnan) spends decades on the island learning to fend for himself and negotiate a relationship with the island’s natives.

Six Days Seven Nights

Opposites attract in this rom-action-com, teaching us the priceless lesson that “the most romantic vacations are unplanned.” Surly pilot Quinn Harris (Harrison Ford) and snotty city girl Robin Monroe (Anne Heche) are forced to get along after a thunderstorm causes them to crash-land on a tropical island. While navigating the foreign terrain to escape from modern-day pirates, the two discover an unlikely love.

Cast Away

The highest-grossing film ever to star a volleyball, Cast Away became the modern-day epitome of what it means to be stranded. (That is, until Lost premiered in 2004).