BUZZView: How “76 Days” Proves to be a Riveting Documentary on Survival

Official Poster

As we continue with our coverage of the 39th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival, our next film that we are featuring is an incredible documentary based on the bestselling novel, “Adrift: 76 Days Lost at Sea.” The film, simply entitled, “76 Days,” chronicles the real life story of Steven Callahan surviving in the Atlantic Ocean on a raft for 76 days.

The beginning of the film shows how Callahan’s story was talked about on numerous talk shows including, “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” and “TODAY with Bryant Gumbel.” From that point on, he began telling the story of how his story of survival began. Presumably, a whale collided with Callahan’s boat, causing it to flood and basically almost capsize. Callahan was able to take refuge on a 6-person raft he had on his boat. As the film progressed, I was starting to feel a sense of dread as I began to wonder how could one survive in the Atlantic Ocean for over 2 months.

The film did a great job at re-imaging/re-staging the events by seeing it from Callahan’s point of view. You get to see from these scenes how he was keeping the raft afloat, spearing fish, trying to get fresh water, and even trying to catch the attention of other ships. The realization of possible dread hit me when certain aspects caused Callahan to think that this was it for him. However, his strength to not give up, as well as his survival knowledge, kept him alive. I was amazed at how his resources, including the sea, was ultimately his saving grace.

One of the best aspects of the film was the musical score used, which was composed by Patrick Stump. Most know him as the lead singer of the group, Fall Out Boy. The swelling of the music during intense moments, to the serenity of the more calm moments, really made this documentary stand out. It also gave it that feel it was more of a movie than that of a documentary.

Also, Stump provided an incredible rendition of, “The Passenger,” once performed by Iggy Pop. This song rounds out the film perfectly.

Under the direction of Joe Wein, “76 Days” captivated Callahan’s life and death struggle in the open sea, and the lengths he went through in order to survive.

Rating: 3.5/5

“76 Days” is set to premiere Thursday, February 8th, at the Fiesta Theater at 4 PM, followed by an encore screening on Monday, February 12th, at the Metro Theater at 8 PM.

The 39th Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) takes place from February 7-17, 2024 at the Arlington Theater.

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