- 2 hr 23 min
Federal Express systems analyst Chuck Noland finds that he is so busy with his job traveling around the world that he rarely has time for his real life. He wants to marry longtime girlfriend Kelly Frears, but his work schedule continually disrupts their plans. He leaves a family gathering on Christmas to an assignment in Malaysia only to find himself in a plane crash. The only survivor, he takes a life raft and is washed up on a deserted island in the South Pacific. Packages from the downed cargo plane wash up on shore as well as one of the dead plane pilots. Noland buries the body and then tries to signal for a rescue and resolves to make an escape attempt on his raft. When the raft can't make it past the surf, he tries to find shelter and food and water on the island but fails initially. He opens the packages that came ashore and finds several useful items though he leaves a single decorated package untouched. Noland's first attempt at making fire is a failure that leaves him injured and angry and, rampaging, he throws around several of the items from the packages including a Wilson brand volleyball. He later puts a bloody hand print on the ball, starts calling it Wilson, and begins having conversations with it. Four years pass during which he survives on the island, becoming a changed man adapted to his surroundings. Still intent on eventually escaping, Noland begins piecing together a raft from found items and things that wash up on shore. Once he completes it he stocks it with supplies and, with the aid of a sail he put on it, gets past the surf and out into the ocean. A storm nearly rips his raft to pieces and he loses his only friend, Wilson. A cargo ship picks him up and returns him to civilization where he learns that Kelly has moved on and married someone else. With nothing left, Noland takes the one package he saved on a road trip to find its sender and leaves it at her door with a note saying that the package saved his life. He meets her at a crossroads and she tells him where each road leads.