Best Movies About Survival of All Time [2023 Edition]

If you’re in the mood for a great survival movie, you’re in luck! With movies like “127 Hours” and “Cast Away” available on Netflix and Amazon, you’ll have plenty of thrilling tales to choose from. 

From stranded astronauts to alien invasions, these films will keep you on the edge of your seat. So grab some popcorn and get ready to binge watch some of the best movies about survival of all time.

Now, let’s dive into the best survival movies list!

Jeremiah Johnson

Jeremiah Johnson

The movie is based on the life of John “Liver-Eating” Johnson, a mountain man who attempts to live off wild in the Rocky Mountains. It covers his adventure. 

The movie is renowned for its breathtaking photography, which perfectly portrays the beauty of the countryside, and its representation of the hard-living, solitary existence of a mountain man.

 The movie was well-received when it was first released and has since gained a cult following.

127 Hours

James Franco starred in the 2010 survival movie “127 Hours,” which was directed by Danny Boyle. The movie is based on the actual incident of canyoneer Aron Ralston, who had to amputate his own arm to free himself after being caught by a rock while canyoneering alone. 

The movie is renowned for both its exploration of the human ability for survival and endurance and for its vivid and visceral representation of Ralston’s struggle. 

The movie received positive reviews and was nominated for a number of awards, including the Oscar for Best Actor for Franco’s performance.

Alive

A 1993 survival movie titled “Alive,” starring Ethan Hawke and directed by Frank Marshall, is inspired on the actual account of a Uruguayan rugby team whose aircraft crashed in the Andes in 1972. 

The survivors are followed as they battle to survive in the harsh alpine environment and as they grapple with moral questions as they take desperate means to remain alive. 

The film is renowned for both its exploration of the human ability for survival and perseverance and for its compelling and emotional representation of the survivors’ struggle. When it was released, the movie earned favorable reviews and did well at the box office.

The Donner Party

The Donner Party, a party of American pioneers who were forced to resort to cannibalism in order to live during the winter of 1846–1847 after being lost in the Sierra Nevada mountains, is the topic of the movie. 

The movie looks at issues like survival, human nature, and the difficult conditions of living on the American frontier. Although the movie’s first reviews were unfavorable, it is now regarded as a classic masterpiece.

Into the Wild

Based on the 1996 nonfiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer, “Into the Wild” is a historical drama directed by Sean Penn. The movie is based on the actual event of Christopher McCandless, a young man who died in the Alaskan wilderness after venturing there in quest of adventure and self-discovery. 

The movie investigates themes of independence, self-discovery, and the quest for adventure. Hal Holbrook’s performance in the movie earned him a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and the movie was well praised.

Man in the Wilderness

Richard C. Sarafian’s 1971 American western “Man in the Wilderness” starred Richard Harris and John Huston. Hugh Glass, a frontiersman attacked by a bear and left for dead by his friends in 1823, survived and sought retribution, and the movie is based on his actual incident. 

The movie looks with issues of survival, revenge, and human nature. Critics appreciated Harris’s acting, and the movie was a box office hit.

Survival by Sea Movies

Cast Away

Cast Away

In 2000, Robert Zemeckis’ survival thriller “Cast Away” starring Tom Hanks was released. After his aircraft crashes in the South Pacific, a FedEx executive finds himself trapped on a remote island in the survival film. 

The movie explores issues of survival, loneliness, and the need for connection in humans. Hanks got an Academy Award nomination for this performance, which was well praised by critics. 

The movie is renowned for portraying the island and the difficulties the character who is trapped faced with in a realistic manner.

Shackleton – The Greatest Survival Story of All Time

George Butler’s 2002 television movie “Shackleton – The Greatest Survival Story of All Time” starred Kenneth Branagh as Sir Ernest Shackleton. 

The movie recounts the actual events of Shackleton’s 1914 Antarctic expedition, including how he and his crew managed to stay alive when their ship became stuck in the ice and eventually sank. 

The movie examines themes of bravery, leadership, and the ability of people to survive in the face of overwhelming hardship. 

Kon-Tiki

The movie is based on the historical account of Heyerdahl’s 1947 trip, during which he and a crew of five men set sail from Peru on a raft in an effort to demonstrate the possibility of similar travels by prehistoric peoples. 

The movie explores themes of adventure, discovery, and exploration. The movie received favorable reviews and an Academy Award nomination for Best Foreign Language Film.

Unbroken

The 2014 biographical drama movie “Unbroken” was directed by Angelina Jolie and is based on Laura Hillenbrand’s 2010 nonfiction book with the same title. 

The movie is based on the actual life of Olympian turned WWII POW Louis Zamperini, who endured a terrifying struggle in the Pacific war. 

The movie looks at topics like overcoming hardship, perseverance, and survival. The movie received positive reviews from critics and was nominated for a number of accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing.

Lord of the Flies

Based on William Golding’s 1954 book, Peter Brook’s 1963 British drama “Lord of the Flies” was released in theaters. 

The movie depicts the narrative of a group of schoolboys who were stuck on an isolated island after an aircraft disaster and make disastrous self-government attempts. The evil side of human nature and issues of power and authority are all explored in the movie. 

More:

  • Against the SunAfter being forced to ditch their torpedo bomber, a WWII pilot, bombardier, and radioman find themselves lost at sea in the South Pacific in a tiny lifeboat in an incredible true World War II story.
  • White SquallA true story about a group of young boys who were crewing a sailing ship that was actually functioning. A unique weather phenomenon puts them all to the test while learning how to sail.
  • All Is LostA sailor finds himself marooned on a life raft in the midst of a solo voyage in the Indian Ocean after an accident with a shipping container at sea.

Zombie Apocolypse Survival Movies

Zombie Apocalypse Movies

The Omega Man

Army doctor Robert Neville, one of the very few survivors of an apocalyptic war with bioweapons, follows the Omega Man as he struggles to create a cure for a zombie plague that has wiped out most of humankind.

The Omega Man stars Charlton Heston and is the first of the classic films. And yes, I realize that The Omega Man does not have “classic zombies,” but the movie is one of the movies/books that inspired the genre.

I Am Legend

The remake of the original Richard Matheson classic is I am Legend. In this version, after discovering a cure for a virus that turned everybody into demented zombies, Will Smith plays Robert Neville, a military scientist left alone in Manhattan.

Zombieland

Zombieland follows Columbus, an anxious grad student who establishes his rules for surviving the Zombie Apocalypse and has managed to survive a zombie virus. For what’s probably one of the funniest Zombie movies ever made, he teams up with a real zombie-killing badass named Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson).

Dawn of the Dead (1978 Edition)

Released in 1978, “Dawn of the Dead” is a famous survival horror movie directed by George A. Romero. The storyline centers on a group of survivors who seek safety in a mall following a zombie outbreak.

The movie is regarded as a cult classic and is well-known for its social satire on consumerism and media.  

Due to the movie’s success, there were two sequels made. The first one is regarded as among the best horror movies ever made. Not all viewers should see the film because of the severe violence and gore that it contains.

More:

  • The Last Man on EarthIn the first big-screen version of Richard Matheson’s classic I Am Legend, Vincent Price stars.
  • 28 Days LaterA hospital patient wakes up from a coma to discover a world full of vicious zombies.
  • 28 Weeks Later28 weeks after the first movie, 28 days later. A carrier mistakenly spreads the deadly infection when the virus is thought to be contained and causes havoc.
  • CarriersFour kids are trying to prevent a terrifying pandemic from attacking humanity.
  • World War ZGerry Lane, a former United Nations researcher, travels the world trying to stop a mysterious infection that turns everyone into raging zombies.

Here are 21 post-apocalyptic movies on Netflix.

Post-Apocalyptic Movies

post-apocalyptic movies

The Book of Eli

In the post-apocalyptic action-adventure movie “The Book of Eli,” Denzel Washington plays a lone warrior called Eli who is sent on a quest to deliver a secret book that he thinks contains the secret to humanity’s survival. He runs across a brutal warlord called Carnegie along the road who is after the book for personal benefit.

The film is beautifully-done, with standout work from Washington, as well as a compelling narrative that tackles issues of power, faith, and the place of religion in a post-apocalyptic society. Additionally noteworthy are the film’s cinematography and action sequences, and its great use of sound and stillness heightens the suspense and mood.

The Road

Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic thriller “The Road” was released in 2006. A man and his young kid travel over a country that has been ravaged by an unexplained disaster that has mostly destroyed civilization over the course of several months in the movie. 

In the midst of unimaginable hardship, the movie examines themes of love, sacrifice, and the bond between a father and a son. The movie has received high appreciation from critics for its raw, brutal beauty and its potent portrayal of the human spirit in the face of difficulties.

More:

  • Waterworld– Waterworld is a future post-apocalypse where water has covered the entire planet. The tale is about a couple of people who cling to the hope of finding dry ground to ensure humanity’s future.
  • The Postman– Set in a post-apocalyptic future, a wandering loner becomes the symbol of resistance after a war has destroyed the government.
  • Mad Max – In the first of the Mad Max series, the end of the oil age is here, and civilization has begun to break down.
  • The Road Warrior– In a post-nuclear war world, a loner fights against other survivors searching for gasoline.
  • Panic In Year Zero– Just before a nuclear bomb destroys the city, a family of four leaves Los Angeles for a camping trip. The father must fight to keep his family alive as chaos breaks out.
  • 20 Years After– A Post-Apocalyptic tale of a young woman on a journey to deliver the first baby to be born in over 15 years.
  • A Boy & His Dog– Several apocalyptic movies were inspired by a twisted cult movie set in Post-Apocalyptic America.
  • Children of Men– Children of Men is a tale wherein a world filled with terror and nuclear fallout; humans have become infertile. To protect pregnant women and save the human race, a small group travels through an urban landscape filled with vicious urban warfare.
  • Reign of Fire– A Post-Apocalyptic Sci-Fi adventure, where a boy unknowingly releases dragons back into the world.
  • Time of the Wolf – A disturbing but well-crafted French movie from 2003 explores a family’s experience trying to cope with violent behavior after an unknown and unexplained catastrophe and social collapse.
  • The Survivalist: A raw post-apocalyptic thriller where two women are hit by a lone person as they fight to survive roving gangs and the severe isolation of a world of kill-or-be-killed.

War Survival Movies

War movies

Defiance

Based on the real-life narrative of the Bielski brothers, Defiance tells the story of a group of brothers fleeing the forest after Nazis killed their parents. In makeshift villages built throughout the forest, they established a resistance group and cared for over 1200 people.

Lone Survivor

Lone Survivor is based on the true story of four heroic Navy SEALs that have been ambushed when trying to capture or kill notorious Taliban leader Ahmad Shah during a covert mission. It’s based on a tale told by Marcus Luttrell, the only surviving member of the team.

Red Dawn

A group of eight high school kids must work together to stave off a Soviet Union invasion in this fictitious midwestern town where the movie is set. The movie looks at issues like freedom, survival, and the price of conflict. The movie was a box office hit.

Heaven Knows Mr. Allison

The WWII survival story features a marine stranded with a nun on an island swarming with Japanese soldiers.

Behind Enemy Lines

A pilot is forced behind enemy lines to evade and survive.

The Way Back

Not to be confused with either last year’s Ben Affleck drama of the same name or the excellent summer film The Way Way Back. In this true story, Jim Sturgess stars as Sławomir Rawicz, a former Polish prisoner of war who, after being betrayed by his wife during World War II, is imprisoned in a Siberian labor camp. Although he flees the camp alongside some fellow prisoners, the ordeal of Rawicz is just beginning as he must travel 4,000 miles to safety through the Himalayas.

The Island on Bird Street

This movie is often disregarded, but it is a fantastic movie related to survival. It shows the survival of an eleven-year-old Jewish boy separated from his father and uncle, who are taken to labor camps from which no one returns, based on a true story during WWII in Warsaw, Poland. He has three things to support him: his pet mouse, Snow, the Robinson Crusoe book, and his father’s promise that he’s going to come back.

Here is our Halloween story!

End of The World Movies

When Worlds Collide

The Planet is at risk of colliding with an unrestrained star as a band of survivors builds a space ship to begin a new civilization—a 1951 Classic.

The War of the Worlds (1953 Edition)

George Pal, who made “When Worlds Collide” as well first introduced H.G. Wells’ classic alien invasion story from 1953 to the big screen. The film is a classic sci-fi movie and won the Best Special Effects Academy Award in 1953.

Independence Day

As aliens attack the world, the question of whether we’re alone in the universe is answered.

Cloverfield

Their attempt to survive is documented by five young New Yorkers as a creature attacks the city.

The Day After Tomorrow

Global warming plunges the world into an immediate Ice Age that causes super storms, misery, and destruction everywhere.

Armageddon

Sent into space, a group of oil riggers tries to save the world from a giant deadly meteor.

More:

  • The Core – The U.S. government finds out that the Earth’s core has stalled, and humankind’s survival could be at stake.
  • Deep Impact – An astronomy student from high school discovers a comet heading straight for Earth. To help avoid the extinction of humanity, the government builds caves, and a group of astronauts is sent to destroy a comet with atomic warheads.

Kids Survival Movies

White Fang

Jack London’s classic tale of a young man attempting to carry out his father’s final wish to search for gold on the great frontier of Alaska.

Davy Crockett

Some of Davy Crockett’s thrilling adventures.

Shipwrecked

A Disney Original involving a shipwreck, pirates, and a boy on a tropical island must survive independently.

Wilderness Family Trilogy

The adventures of a modern family leaving a large city to the mountain ranges for life.

More:

  • Swiss Family Robinson – This journey has it all: shipwrecks, pirates, a tiger, and an island treehouse that induces envy. It’s also one of the least grisly tales of survival, so it’s definitely family-friendly.
  • A Cry in the Wild– Based on the original wilderness survival novel by Gary Paulsen, “Hatchet,” a 13-year-old boy tries to survive in the wilderness alone.
  • Lost in the Barrens– An adopted kid is sent to stay in the wilderness with his uncle.

Final Thought

Thank you for reading the entire list. I really enjoyed putting together a list, watching tons of movies, and I really felt like these were the absolute best movies out there.

I hope you found a survival movie you liked.

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2 thoughts on “Best Movies About Survival of All Time [2023 Edition]”

  1. I loved all these survival movies! I’ve watched most of them, especially during the lockdown. I hope you’ll create another for 2022, though. Great reference!

    Reply
  2. While I’ve seen most of these movies, two you didn’t mention are:
    1) Ultimate Warrior staring Yul Brenner. Post apocalyptic film started in New York.
    2) Biography of Eddy Albert.

    Reply

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