Plane and the Most Dangerous Movie Crash Landings

Few things can stir up terror quite like the prospect of a catastrophic plane crash, making it an enticing premise for film and TV. The plane crash narrative has been explored countless times across all global terrains from deserts to mountains, with each retelling serving up fresh perspectives on the aftermath, ranging from the miraculous to the utterly devastating. 

In the white-knuckle action movie Plane, pilot Brodie Torrance (Gerard Butler) saves his passengers from a lightning strike by making a risky landing on a war-torn island – only to find that surviving the landing was just the beginning. When most of the passengers are taken hostage by dangerous rebels, the only person Torrance can count on for help is Louis Gaspare (Mike Colter), a convicted murderer who was being transported by the FBI. Discovering there’s more to Gaspare than meets the eye, it will be up to both men to rescue everyone.

As we celebrate the release of Plane, we revisit some of the most memorable cinematic depictions of aviation disasters in the harshest conditions known to man! 


The Flight of the Phoenix is a classic survival film that tells the story of a group of men who, after a plane crash in the Sahara desert, are forced to band together to try and survive. With limited resources and no hope of rescue, their only viable option is to attempt to repair their damaged aircraft and fly out of the unforgiving desert. Led by the veteran pilot Captain Frank Towns the group must battle the brutal heat, dwindling supplies and personal conflict in order to come together and build a new plane to escape their sandy prison. Directed by the celebrated director Robert Aldrich, the film swapped the Saharan sands for the deserts of California and Arizona, and cast legendary Hollywood star James Stewart in the lead. Stewart was at home behind the controls of a plane, having flown many missions in WWII and was still officially in the United States Air Force Reserve during production. A true survival classic, The Flight of the Phoenix stands as a powerful testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the importance of perseverance, ingenuity, and teamwork in times of crisis. 

ALVE (1993)

Based on the harrowing true story of a Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes Mountains in 1972, Frank Marshall’s biographical survival film Alive charts the team’s gruelling fight for survival as they find themselves stranded in the harsh, icy wilderness. Based on Piers Paul Read’s 1974 book Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors, the film tells the story of the survivors who lived on the mountain, often in sub-zero conditions, for 72 agonising days. After initially thinking they will be rescued quickly, eventually they realise they will be stranded for a long time and have to make a series of tough decisions, including resorting to cannibalism in order to survive. However, with Marshall’s commanding presence behind the camera, the film does an excellent job handling the moral complexity of the survivors’ plight, making Alive both a thought-provoking and thrilling watch. 

CAST AWAY (2000)

A cultural juggernaut upon its release in 2000 — partly thanks to the memorable ‘character’ of Wilson the volleyball— Robert Zemeckis’s Cast Away, stars Tom Hanks in a tour-de-force performance as Chuck Noland, a Fed-Ex executive who finds himself stranded on a deserted island in the South Pacific after a plane crash leaves him as the sole survivor. Despite the solitary nature of his character’s plight, Tom Hanks delivered a masterful portrayal that netted the acting veteran a Best Actor win at the Golden Globes as well as a Best Actor nomination at the Academy Awards. The film was shot on the island of Monuriki in Fiji, and prior to the shoot some of the crew members were left on the island to learn to survive, picking up skills including starting fires, opening coconuts and catching fish – all of which were passed onto Hanks during filming! With its stunning on-location cinematography, an unforgettable performance from Hanks and a thrilling story of survival, Cast Away is a timeless masterpiece in the canon of plane crash films. 

LOST (2004 – 2010)

There are few television shows that had a greater impact in the 2000s than J.J. Abrams’s Lost, a series that followed the journey of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 as they fought to stay alive on a mysterious island. Running for six years, the show was an early example of quality, prestige television winning a huge number of awards including Golden Globe and two Emmys and starring a host of familiar names including Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lily, Dominic Monaghan, Daniel Dae Kim, Michelle Rodriguez and many more. As the show progressed over the years, it became clear that the plane crash was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to the mysteries of the island. The survivors encountered a host of supernatural phenomena, from time travel to smoke monsters! The gripping and intense theme of survivalism, epitomised by the devastating plane crash that initially marooned the survivors on the island, was a driving force behind Lost‘s immense cultural impact and contributed to its status as a defining show of the 2000s.

THE GREY (2011)

Directed by Joe Carnahan, The Grey follows a group of oil workers who are stranded in the Alaskan wilderness after their plane crashes. Starring action legends Liam Neeson and Frank Grillo, the film follows the oil workers’ fight for survival, as they battle sub-zero temperatures and fend off attacks from a fierce wolf pack. Shooting on-location in British Columbia, temperatures reached -40 degrees Celsius, which adds a layer of realism to this already grizzled thriller – the actors all had to wear thermals under their costumes to stop them from freezing. The Grey is a thrilling and emotionally charged film that portrays the physical challenges of surviving in the wild but also delves into the deeper, existential questions that arise in the face of adversity. Liam Neeson’s powerful performance as Ottway, combined with the film’s stunning visuals and gripping action sequences, make it a must-see. And in a fun twist of fate, the plane that crashes at the beginning of the film is an MD-80, the same model of aircraft that Gerard Butler flies in Plane! 

Plane is on digital, 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD now 

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