Societal values are influenced and changed by the transition between eras, contexts and cultures over time. The book ‘Robinson Crusoe’ (1719) written by Daniel Defoe and the film ‘Cast Away’ (2000) directed by Robert Zemeckis portray a very similar story, one of a lone man stranded on an island where he must utilize the world around him in order to survive. ‘Robinson Crusoe’ revolves around the adventurous Robinson Crusoe during the 16th century ‘Cast Away’ is centred on Chuck Noland at the dawn of the 21st century. Both films reflect the values of materialism and companionship through their respective contexts.
Noland works at FedEx in a position in which he oversees his company’s expansion into new markets. Noland’s capitalist persona is portrayed during the mail room scene when he lectures his employees on their efficiency. During Noland’s speech, the camera starts off at a low angle to depict the authority of Noland and ultimately the clock above him, the camera then tracks Noland as he marches around like a drill sergeant, expressing that “Time rules over us without mercy… We live or we die by the clock” This scene exposes his belief that time is of utmost importance in work and life.
Noland’s materialistic views regarding work overpower important personal connections with family in his life. This is evident when Noland leaves for work during Christmas dinner; this scene is portrayed through the use of eye line match editing, Noland is paged, he looks to his wife, who already knows exactly what it means. The scene transitions to one the shows the couple frantically flicking through calendars and diaries to cancel plans they made while the family dinner is still occurring in the background “Should we cancel Saturday?” Noland’s work ethic replaces any significant family relations, which depicts the materialistic consumer driven society imposed on Noland.
In ‘Robinson Crusoe’ a strongly imperialist and capitalist white society is portrayed. 17th century values such as expansionism and religious conversion are priority in the puritanic society that Crusoe hails from. Crusoe disobeys his family and leaves to pursue his own goals. Crusoe does not appear to gain any humanitarian values, regardless of his experience. He is reduced “from a merchant to a miserable slave” for years, however even during his escape he claims his own slave; Xury, whom Crusoe promises for his service to make Xury into a “great man” Regardless of this promise, he later sells Xury in exchange for money. Through Crusoe’s actions we can see that 17th century society consider people as commodities and treat them like so regardless of personal circumstances. Even after spending more than 20 years isolated on an island and having reflecting that he has “no manner of use” for money. Upon leaving the island his first instinct is to “go to the Lisbon and see…the state of my plantation.” Crusoe’s natural instinct is to return to a life of materialism, his focus is turned to his source of income, showing where Crusoe’s values and priorities lie. The sociocultural influences in ‘Robinson Crusoe’ show that money and materialism were predominant values.
It is obvious that both texts are situated in times of dominant capitalist principles, with Crusoe’s generation being focused on expansion and colonisation and Noland’s being focused on reaching maximum efficiency while expanding his corporation to new markets. We draw similarities between ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and ‘Cast Away’ as the primary focus of both societies appears to be gaining capital; materialist principles are dominant. Both Crusoe and Noland leave their families for their own materialist desires. It is evident that societal values affect both Noland and Crusoe’s lives and attitudes towards money.
In ‘Cast Away’ the sociocultural value of companionship is portrayed through Noland’s creation and…