For most people, the holidays are spent watching Christmas movies together. That’s one Christmas tradition that will never die. But if you need a break from all of the festive cheer, why not try one of these likable survival movies? I mean, Home Alone is a classic and I don’t think anyone will get tired of it, but the survival films in this list are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to learn some survival tips that you can use in the real world! From classic adventure films to modern action blockbusters, these are some of the best survival movies to watch on Christmas Break.
1. The Revenant (2015)
The Revenant is a 2015 American survival drama film directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, and Will Poulter. This gritty, Oscar-winning epic is based on the true story of Hugh Glass, a 19th-century frontiersman and fur trapper who was mauled by a grizzly bear and left for dead by his fellow trappers. Despite suffering from severe injuries and being stranded in the wilderness, Glass must use his survival skills and determination to find his way back to civilization.
This is an intense journey with some of the most beautiful cinematography you will ever see and combined with the intense action sequences and powerful performances, particularly from DiCaprio, it’s sure to keep you enthralled until the very end. To think that Leo had to fight off a bear to finally bag his first Oscar for Best Actor is indeed a marvel. The Revenant was a critical and commercial success and won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Cinematography.
Best survival lesson from The Revenant: know what to do when animals attack
According to a study, more than 47,000 people in the United States are attacked and injured by wild animals with most of the damage caused by snakes, birds, rodents, and raccoons. That said, you should learn what to do when you encounter different animals in the wild. The same goes for domesticated animals that go wild, like horses, cows, and even dogs.
If you happen to come across a bear, the first and most important step is to stay calm and assess the situation. Bears can be aggressive, but they will usually only attack when they feel threatened or provoked. If you see a bear, back away slowly while avoiding direct eye contact. Never run, as this may trigger the bear’s predatory instincts.
2. The Shallows (2016)
The Shallows is a fast-paced thriller directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and released in 2016. The film follows Nancy (played by Blake Lively), a surfer who is attacked by a great white shark while surfing alone at a secluded beach somewhere in Mexico. After the attack, Nancy is stranded on a rock in the ocean with no way to reach the shore.
She must use her wits and resourcefulness to survive and find a way back to safety before the shark can finish the job. Along the way, she encounters various challenges and must confront her own fears and limitations.
It’s an intense battle of wits and reflexes that will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout its runtime. Plus, you get an up-close look at just how amazing and powerful these creatures are.
Best survival lesson from The Shallows: Learn to identify signs of shark activity
Before swimming in the ocean, be sure to stay alert for any warning signs of shark activity. Look out for fin or tail splashes near the surface, or any odd behavior from the fish or birds in the area. If you do see a shark, don’t panic. Gradually swim back to shore while avoiding sudden movements. Trashing and splashing will only attract the shark and might trigger an attack.
A reminder to everyone: survival films like this tend to make things seem more dramatic by taking certain liberties with the facts, so be sure to do some proper research before attempting any of these tips in the real world. Check out some shark attack myths often seen in films.
3. 127 Hours (2010)
127 Hours is a 2010 biographical survival film directed by Danny Boyle, which tells the tragedy that befell the real-life Aron Ralston (played by James Franco). After going on a canyoneering trip alone, Ralston finds himself trapped in a narrow canyon with his arm wedged between an immovable boulder and the wall. With no one around to help and no way out, he’s forced to confront his own mortality and find a way to free himself.
Over the course of five days, he reflects on his past and must make difficult decisions in order to survive. With limited supplies and no way to call for help, Aron must use his strength, determination, and resourcefulness to find a way out of the canyon before it’s too late. This film will have you guessing until the very last minute as it follows Ralston’s heroic efforts to escape his dire situation.
Best survival lesson from 127 Hours: Always be prepared
One of the most valuable survival tips you can ever learn is to always be prepared. Aron Ralston is an experienced outdoorsman and mountain climber, but he makes some mistakes that contribute to his predicament. One, he fails to inform anyone of his plans or leave a detailed itinerary. Two, he didn’t bring enough supplies and gear with him on the hike. These mistakes illustrate the importance of being prepared and taking the necessary precautions when engaging in outdoor activities.
If you are ever in a similar situation, having a well-stocked emergency kit can be a lifesaver. This should include items such as a first-aid kit, multi-tool, fire starter kit, whistle, signal flares, paracord or sturdy rope, and an emergency shelter, among other essential survival gear. You should also bring enough food and water for at least three days in case of an emergency.
4. Into The Wild (2007)
This beautiful yet tragic film based on the bestselling book by Jon Krakauer follows Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) on his adventure into the Alaskan wilderness. McCandless, who had a privileged upbringing by his parents, played by Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt, graduated from Emory University as an exceptional student-athlete. But instead of taking the conventional route of capitalizing on his achievements to secure a prestigious career, Christopher chooses to donate all of his savings while divesting himself of any possessions. This leads him on an incredible voyage of self-discovery as he treks across the United States in search of true freedom.
Along the way, he meets some fascinating characters and experiences lots of survival challenges. While Into The Wild is ultimately a story of tragedy, it’s also an inspiration to many and will make you appreciate the wilderness more.
Best survival lesson from Into The Wild: Understand the environment
When entering any unfamiliar area, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the local environment. Research the terrain, climate, and wildlife of the area before setting out on your journey. That way, you’ll have a better understanding of what survival techniques to use if the situation gets dire. McCandless could’ve at least studied maps of the places he was going to visit, so he could plan ahead and know what wilderness survival skills were necessary. Aside from knowing the right directions, the maps could’ve shown him the gauging station
Had Chris had a map, he would have known that there was a gauging station with a basket system that could have gotten him across, saving his life
5. Alive (1993)
This survival film tells the true story of what happened to the passengers and crew of Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, which crashed in the Andes mountains in 1972. The passengers, mostly members of a Uruguayan rugby team and their families, whose plane crashed in the Andes mountains in 1972. Stranded in the snowy wilderness with no hope of rescue, the group is forced to resort to extreme measures in order to stay alive. As they struggle to survive the freezing temperatures and scarce resources, the group must also contend with conflicts and tensions within their own ranks. Through sheer determination and ingenuity, they are eventually able to make it through the harrowing ordeal and make it back to civilization.
Best survival lesson from Alive: Think outside the box
The survival of the Uruguayan rugby team is a testament to the power of creativity and determination. Being faced with impossible odds, they had to think outside the box and come up with creative solutions in order to survive. The survivors made a sleeping bag using copper wire, insulation from the downed plane’s fuselage, and the air conditioning system’s waterproof cover. They also were forced to eat the flesh of the dead passengers to stay alive until a rescue team could find them. These survival tactics show that in times of desperation, you are capable of using anything at your disposal in order to survive. So never underestimate the power of innovation, resourcefulness, and determination!
6. Cast Away (2000)
Cast Away is a survival drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks. The film tells the story of Chuck Noland, a FedEx systems engineer who becomes stranded on a deserted island after his plane crashes in the South Pacific.
As Chuck struggles to survive on the island, he faces a number of challenges including finding food and shelter and coping with loneliness and isolation. Despite these difficulties, Chuck eventually learns to adapt to life on the island, using his skills and resourcefulness to survive and find a way to escape. Along the way, Chuck also learns valuable lessons about himself and the importance of human connection.
Ultimately, Cast Away is a powerful and poignant story about the resilience of the human spirit and the lengths we will go to in order to survive and thrive.
Best survival lesson from Cast Away: Learn to adapt
One of the most important lessons is the importance of adapting to one’s environment and using all available resources to survive. The main character built a shelter with his raft and a bed with the FedEx boxes. He gathered coconuts for food and collected rainwater using leaves and coconut shells. With those, he had the basic survival needs covered.
Noland also started a fire with two pieces of wood, some tinder, and lots of effort. He fashioned a rope from a videotape, used a dress as a fishing net, and ice skates as a cutting tool. And to help him keep his sanity, he made a “friend” out of a volleyball and named him Wilson. This also shows the importance of human connection, which Chuck learns the hard way.
7. The Road
The Road is a 2009 post-apocalyptic film based on the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. The film follows the journey of a father and his young son (played by Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee, respectively) as they set off on an arduous journey across a cold and dangerous landscape, trying to reach the coast in the hope of finding a better, warmer place to live.
The Road is an emotionally powerful survival film that shows the lengths that people will go to in order to survive and protect their loved ones. It also illustrates how hope, compassion, and love can be even more vital for survival than physical strength or skills.
Best survival lesson from The Road: Stay healthy physically and mentally
Once faced with a dire survival situation, it is essential to stay healthy physically and mentally in order to have the strength and clarity of mind to overcome challenges. It’s not enough to just find food and water and fight off threats to survive.
In the film, the father is dying of an illness but he presses on despite his weakened condition because he knows the survival of his son depends on it. While the cause of the illness wasn’t explained, it shows the importance of staying as healthy as possible despite the challenges.
If you’re in a similar situation, you should take care of your body by exercising, getting plenty of rest, and, if possible, eating healthy stuff.
It’s also necessary to care for your mental health. The wife and mother of the main characters, played by Charlize Theron, struggled with her mental state as she gradually lost hope of surviving their bleak condition. Eventually, she decided to disappear into the woods leaving her husband to take care of the boy.
If people are depending on you, it’s essential to stay strong physically and mentally. You need to be in your best shape to make sure not only you will survive but also your loved ones. Add to that, you need to prepare them for when you’re not around to help them. In the film, the father made sure to teach his son everything he needed to know to keep on living once he was gone.
8. The Martian (2015)
Based on a science fiction novel by Andy Weir, the 2015 film The Martian is about astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon), who is stranded on Mars after a severe dust storm forces the crew to evacuate. Believing Watney perished during the storm, the crew had no choice but to leave the red planet without him.
In this survival story of epic proportions, Watney uses all of his ingenuity and scientific know-how, particularly in the field of botany and engineering, to survive and eventually get back to Earth. It’s an inspiring tale of survival that’s sure to leave you in awe of Watney’s perseverance and can-do attitude.
Best survival lesson from The Martian: Importance of gaining as much knowledge as possible
The main reason why Watney survived alone on Mars is that he has a vast amount of knowledge in science and engineering, which he utilized to create solutions to the various survival problems he faced. Learning different skills is another example of gaining knowledge that can be handy in survival situations.
The takeaway here is that survival in extreme situations requires more than just physical strength. Having the right knowledge can help you survive and thrive even when faced with seemingly insurmountable odds. So do yourself a favor and take the time to learn new survival skills and acquire knowledge in different areas. You never know when it might come in handy.
9. I Am Legend (2007)
I Am Legend is an apocalyptic film based on the 1954 science fiction novel by Richard Matheson. It stars Will Smith as Robert Neville, the lone survivor of a virus epidemic that has decimated Earth. Being immune to the virus, Neville is left alone to fight off the infected, who have become nocturnal, zombie-like creatures that hunt at night. This survival drama follows Neville’s journey as he struggles to survive and search for a cure.
I Am Legend is a classic tale of survival and hope in the face of overwhelming odds. It is a thought-provoking and suspenseful exploration of the human condition and our ability to adapt and endure in the face of disaster.
Best survival lesson from I Am Legend: The power of hope and positivity
The survival lesson to be gleaned from this movie is the importance of maintaining hope in difficult situations. No matter how grim a situation may seem, it’s important to stay positive and never give up on survival. Robert Neville maintains his strength and optimism throughout the film, and his courage and determination ultimately help him survive the virus. This survival story serves as a reminder of the power of hope, no matter how dire things may seem.
10. Contagion (2011)
Contagion is a 2011 American medical thriller film helmed by Steven Soderbergh with a star-studded cast featuring Marion Cotillard, Matt Damon, Laurence Fishburne, Jude Law, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Kate Winslet.
The film follows the spread of a deadly virus, which begins in Asia and quickly spreads across the world. As the virus spreads, the film follows the efforts of public health officials, scientists, and governments to contain and mitigate the outbreak. The film also explores the personal stories of several characters as they deal with the consequences of the virus, including the loss of loved ones and the societal panic that ensues.
Best survival lesson from Contagion: Importance of good hygiene
Throughout the film, characters are seen taking precautions such as wearing face masks, washing hands regularly, and avoiding contact with sick people in order to reduce their risk of infection. This lesson should be familiar to everyone on this planet by now thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. But to be sure, one needs to understand how good hygiene practices and taking pandemics and similar survival threats seriously can help survival in the real world.
The film highlights the need for individuals to take responsibility for their own health and safety, as well as that of their community. This is an important survival lesson that applies not only during a pandemic but in everyday life as well
11. Anna and the Apocalypse
Since it’s the holidays, we can’t leave Anna and the Apocalypse off this list. The 2017 musical horror comedy film, set in a small Scottish town during the holiday season, follows a group of high school students as they fight for survival during a zombie apocalypse. Anna (Ella Hunt) and her friends must battle their way through various undead hordes in order to survive, but the film also focuses on their individual stories and how each of them copes with the situation differently.
Filled with catchy musical numbers and dark humor, Anna and the Apocalypse is a unique and entertaining take on the zombie genre. It’s perfect if you want something different to watch during the holiday break.
Best survival lesson from Anna and the Apocalypse: Use your resources wisely
Anna and her friends use their knowledge and skills to their advantage, finding creative ways to use the resources around them to survive. For example, they use Christmas decorations as weapons and use the school’s music program to create distractions and distractions.
From fighting wild animals or deadly viruses to surviving on a deserted island or on top of a snowy mountain, there are plenty of scenarios in survival movies that can possibly happen in the real life. Even survival films with far-fetched situations such as a zombie apocalypse or a space mission gone wrong can offer survival tips that you can apply to everyday life if and when the necessity arises.
It’s not just about learning how to build a shelter or start a fire for survival, survival movies can also teach you the value of staying composed in stressful situations, thinking on your feet, and making hard decisions when it matters most.
So if you’re looking for some survival inspiration, why not spend some of your precious time this holiday season watching such films with the family? Afterward, you can discuss some valuable survival skills and tips that you picked up from the movies! Oh, and you can still squeeze Home Alone into your watchlist. There are plenty of survival lessons to be learned from it too.
Whatever you choose, these are all great survival movies to watch on Christmas break. They will keep you engaged and entertained while teaching you some important life lessons along the way. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the show! And don’t forget to check out Gentleman Pirate Club for more survival lessons and tips. Happy holidays!