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Best Survival Movies

We've gathered a list of best survival movies and TV Shows for you to enjoy and use as an easy-to-digest set of survival tips & tricks.

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From Fantasy to Real-Life Stories

An important part of building a reliable survival strategy is learning tips and tricks about survival methods prior to … well, being in a situation where they are critical.

The sources of learning such skills and techniques are quite versatile and range from books, mentors, articles or blogs to the most powerful one, experience.

But learning should not always be such a rigid activity and we thought of a good way to polish your survival skills through a fun activity almost everyone loves: watching a screen and a story.

So, if you have some spare time and want to combine relaxation with a bit of learning and inspiration, we gathered a list of best survival movies and TV Shows for you to enjoy and maybe use as ideas generators.

And do not worry, you will get the hint, but not the spoilers.

Fictional Survival Movies

I am Legend (2007)

If you have not seen this one yet, you are either rather young or not a movie fan, either way, this is a must see for survivalists, but not only.

It shows the struggles, despair, fear and helplessness of possibly the last standing man on Earth in a zombie apocalypse. I

t is a great combination between emotion, thrill and action, making it one of the best doomsday movies out there.

Where we place I am Legend: Post apocalyptic movies

Correlation with survival world:

The chances of someone being the last or one of the last survivors of any kind of catastrophe are rather small, or at least we hope they are.

However, in real life, we could translate this movie in a lesson in resilience and ability to find unusual resources in rough situations.

Most striking survival aspect of it might be though one’s capacity to struggle and fight for survival alone and without much hope to find another human alive when the struggle is done.

The Martian (2015)

Do you think you could survive a shipwreck in the unfriendliest territory you can imagine in this world?

The Martian is a story about something similar, only the ship is a space ship and the desert island is Mars.

After a scary storm on the red planet, most of the research participants of the assemble decides to abandon the mission and save their lives.

But one team member decides to stay and wait for the storm to pass, a storm no one on Earth thought could be survived by a human being.

Where we place The Martian: Survival thriller movies

Correlation with Survival World:

A good part of this movie is a one man show. A man trying to survive a bad injury with little resources, a man fighting for air and ultimately, one that does not stop trying to let the people on Earth know that he is alive.

Mars colonization, or any other planet for that matter is no longer a topic so far away from our envisioning capacity.

The movie has some science approved survival techniques that you might find intriguing, such as making water from rocket fuel or growing plants on Martian soil.

Life of Pi (2012)

A beautiful story that reflects the survival instinct in both human and animal world.

Young Pi goes on a sea journey with his parents and all the animals of their recently closed Zoo, with the purpose of starting a new life in another country.

When a storm hits the ship, Pi finds himself on a lifeboat with the only other survival of the wreck – an untamed tiger.

Where we place Life of PI: Sea Survival Movies

Correlation with Survival World:

First, we have the surviving at sea scenario, human version: we see young Pi struggling to portion the supplies, gather drinkable water from pouring rain and finally, eating whatever the sea offers.

And then we have the surviving with a wild beast side of the story, where Pi learns to set boundaries and take precautions with the neighboring tiger and ultimately to work together in the fight of survival.

In the end, the movie tells the story of how the survival instinct prevails in both beast and human being.


True Story Survival Movies

Into The Wild (2007)

This is one of the most representative wilderness survival movies because it is based on a true story, showcasing in detail the gift and perks of living in the heart of nature with only its resources.

The movie recounts the life journey of rebel young man Christopher McCandless (portraying real life Emile Hirsch), a promising athlete and fresh University graduate who decides to go against his traditional family values.

Instead of following a rather normal path, Chris launches himself in a two-phased adventure of discovering and living the wilderness, without contact with his loved ones or the civilized world.

Where we would place Into The Wild: Adventure Wilderness Movies

Correlation with Survival World:

We consider this one a masterpiece of surviving the wild movies because of the authenticity feeling you get while watching it.

You witness the gradual journey of a rebel young man, going from having and handling a bunch of THINGS to showering in a river stream during winter time, finding shelter in the middle of nowhere, hunting and digging for food and even having face to face meetings with wildlife animals.

The key learning of this movie related to the topic of survival would have to be the fact that nature gives a lot and takes as much if you allow panic to take over your survival instincts.

The Revenant (2015)

Although there has been some controversy around the real life vs. movie facts about this one, we think it is worth including in our list of true survival movies category.

It tells the story of Hugh Glass, a trapper who was left to die by his comrades after a Grizzly attack in a freezing, unfriendly forest.

The story follows the main character’s fight for survival, face to face with one scary Grizzly bear on one hand and the harshness of uncharted and wild territories during cold winter time.

Driven by revenge, Hugh turns it into the necessary fuel to overcome the obstacles of a cold forest with little resources.

Where we place The Revenant: Horror Survival Movies

Correlation with Survival World:

Although a bit taken to extremes, The Revenant does tell a story of extreme conditions, where the main character finds heat, food and shelter in ingenious ways.

There is also the element of bushcraft and treating wounds with acquired wilderness skills and nature-provided elements.

And since there is real life inspiration for this film, you might find some valuable lessons to write down from this Oscar & Golden Globes winning movie.

127 Hours (2010)

Adding to the list of real-life inspired movies, 127 Hours is a scary survival story with a rather big likelihood of happening to anyone out there who is into hiking on rocky cliffs.

Aron Ralston is going once again in a one-man adventure through canyons only this time he gets trapped between a boulder and a cliff wall, without anyone knowing his whereabouts.

His struggle to get out of this on-the-edge experience brings chills down the spine, as some of the measures he resorts to are desperate and extreme.

Where we place 127 Hours: True Survival Movies

Correlation with Survival World:

There are several lessons to be taken from this movie, starting with the need to know your tools very well, to forging them from raw materials and ultimately, to always have someone close know where you adventure is happening.

The main character goes through a wide range of emotions in the loneliness of Canyonlands National Park, from excitement to fear, panic, despair, hallucinations and hope, each of these fueling a different type of desperate action.

Documentary Survival Movies

We cannot talk about learning survival skills without looking at those real-life stories told by people who lived them.

Here is our list of best survival movies a bit outside the Netflix and chill category.

La vallée des loups - Wolf Valley (2016)

This is the real unveiling of adventurer’s Jean-Michel Bertrand three-year journey in the Alpes in chase of a dream: to find, learn and live with the wild wolves of the mountains.

The producer a.k.a. main character is portrayed by critics and watchers as „crazy” for his courage and rather unusual dream, but the movie still stands as an authentic demonstration of life in wilderness, wild creatures included.

Where we place La vallée des loups: Adventure wilderness movies

Correlation with survival world:

Rather simple to find, since it is a story about surviving three years in the rough lands of the Alpes, with weather changes, resources that do not fall in the „cabinet” type category and beasts that could threaten one’s life.

The protagonist shows an adventure and a dream through his own eyes, footsteps and survival skills.

Last Paradise (2016)

A film shot by a group of adventurers throughout 45 years of traveling through the extreme wild lands of New Zealand.

Deciding to leave the civilized world behind and instead launch into the harsh, uncharted lands of this island-country, the group starts the adventure around teenage years and self-record their steps through unknown cultures and raw landscapes.

Where we place Last Paradise: Best wilderness survival movies

Correlation with Survival World:

If there is still any doubt left around this, let’s take it from the beginning: we are witnessing a bunch of kids that go in the adventure of half of a man’s life.

Being so young and going into such uncharted lands is itself an act of bravery. Managing to explore, discover, learn and use the elements of such territories are proofs of true survival skills.

The movie is eye candy and thrilling at the same time, given the unusual decision of the group members to turn their backs on comfort and for the witnessing the complexity of skills they need to acquire throughout their exploration in order to survive.

The only thing we add is that you will be more knowledgeable about the world we live in after you will have seen this movie.

Nordford Sola / North of the Sun (2012)

Surfers are adventurers for facing huge tides and deep waters.

But there is a next level to a surfer’s adventures and that is reflected in the documentary Nordford Sola, chasing the experience of two Norwegian surfers in the remote arctic island North of Norway.

For nine months they tear themselves apart from a warm home, supermarkets and malls with everything one needs.

The reason for their adventure in the cold land and waters of the Arctic Circle is once again, a dream: the legend said that this specific area of Norway has the best surfing waves you could get.

Where we place Nordford Sola: Survival Skills Movies

Correlation with Survival World:

For almost a year, the two adventurers face several challenges, including extreme cold, lack of food, lack of a shelter and for some time, isolation from human contact and tools.

They learn to build and isolate walls, eat whatever they can get their hands on, forge tools to help them build bigger things and create heat from natural resources.

Their adventure goes from land, to water and air and they capture their experience with all its beauty and terror.

Survival TV Shows

Survivorman (2004-2015)

Seven seasons of raw survival techniques lived and recorded by outdoorsman and adventurer Les Stroud.

The location for each episode was carefully studied and evaluated by the one man show protagonist prior to going in a 7 to 10 days survival experience in each chosen wild place.

The authenticity of this show is doubled by the fact that Stroud records each episode alone, without a filming crew, relying only on a rescue team in case things would go out of hands.

Where we place Survivorman: Best Survival Shows

Correlation with Survival World:

The way this show goes is that each episode records the experience of the adventurer in one of the chosen remote locations.

In each of these, Stroud only carries his recording gear, clothes, a multitool, very little food and water and a few specific items that fit the different filming locations.

With this poor set of tools, Stroud manages to show how you can build a fire in nature, forage or hunt for food, build shelter, preserve heat and overcome various unfriendly weather conditions.

But the most important lesson of this show is how to cope with situations where survival skills and forward thinking prove to be too little for what nature can bring.

Doomsday Preppers (2012-2014)

A reality show about people like any of us, living their lives, going to work, taking care of their children, enjoying their hobbies and almost leading a double life in parallel.

In this separate life, we see people stock piling cans, building emergency shelters in their basements, growing crops that will also go into cans, setting out plans for survival in case of an apocalypse or terrorist attack or preparing the home in case of a pandemic induced quarantine.

As extreme as it was tagged by some viewers and critiques, the show has success and provides valuable information for preppers around survival in emergency situations.

Where we place Doomsday Preppers: End of the world survival

Correlation with Survival World:

Although not an actual account of how you would survive the end of the world, if that is even possible, this show is about people who want to be more in control of their own fate in case of a disaster or apocalypse.

These people want to take it one step further on the path or preparedness.

You will get ideas on foods that last for months on shelves, how to prepare your house with survival tools and proper shelter in case natural calamities such as volcanos eruptions, the realistic scenario of an economic collapse and so on.  

Chernobyl (2019)

This miniseries is a shattering recount of the Chernobyl disaster in northern Ukraine, 1986.

From the first episode, you will witness the buildup of one of the biggest nuclear events in the world, how it was possible and how the people close to or far away from it were affected by the event.

The show might bring many chills down the spine, especially since most of the emotional aspects of the series have been confirmed as being very much like reality by some of the survivors.

In parallel with tracing the factual aspects of the nuclear hazard, each episode illustrates the people’s struggle to survive such a catastrophe.

Where we place Chernobyl: Best of 2019 Survival Shows

Correlation with Survival World:

If a similar nuclear disaster would happen again, few of us would know what we would really be dealing with.

This show might urge you to learn more about nuclear accidents repercussions and more about what would be in your power to do to survive such a dark scenario.

The miniseries depicts how, on one hand, the authorities were trying to understand and limit the effects of the disaster and, on the other hand, how regular people learned on their own the damages, losses and precautions to be taken for survival.

With all the drama, action, reality check and tension of Chernobyl, it is safe to say it is one of the best survivals shows of 2019.  

Final Thoughts on Survival Movies

We hope you found at least one movie or show to feed your survival learning mode.

Let us know in the comments below which of these you saw and liked or which one you plan to see next.

If you think we left any deserving movies off the list, mention them below!

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Hi, I'm Russ!

I've been prepping for a long time, but 2020 convinced me that I need to take it to the next level.

This website started as a way to keep me going forward on the path to being better prepared.

Now, I’m turning it into a complete blueprint for anyone else looking to do the same!
Russell M. Morgan
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