The Grey, the 2012 “survival” movie, directed by Joe Carnahan, has become a well regarded film. But especially due to its controversial ending, has become a hot bed of fan theories, some of which suggest that the survivors of the plane clash which leaves several oil workers stranded in freezing Alaska, all died in the crash and there encounters with the pack of wolves which are hunting them is somewhat supernatural.
The wolves may be “hell hounds” and Alaska may well be purgatory, in way similar to the hit series Lost.
But I have another theory. In the opening of the film, Liam Neeson is a lost soul, as it would transpire throughout the movie, he is grieving for loss of his wife who appears to him in visions, comforting him and telling him “not to be afraid”. After writing what is essentially a suicide note, he walks out of a bar and puts his hunting rifle which he uses as for his job, hunting wolves which are attacking fellow oil workers, into his mouth and prepares to fire.
But after the second click he is stopped in the nick of time by a wolf howling in the distance. Next we find ourselves on the doomed flight and the ensuing plane clash. As the group of survivors make there way across the baron yet beautiful Alaskan landscape, they are picked of by wolves and accidents until Neeson finds himself in the wolves den, facing off against the alpha, one alpha to another.
My theory is that in fact, that he did kill himself with shot gun in the opening scene, just after writing his note, one which survives the crash and offers him comfort throughout the film. His wife is comforting him as he accepts his fate, each member of the group who die seem to be ushered on to heaven or hell by their families.
The plane crash may well of just been the first step to purgatory, as the group accept their fates.
Of course, if you accept that they were alive throughout, survives the suicide attempt and the plane crash, The Grey is still a poignant tale of survival, even against your better judgment. That a suicidal man faced with the death that he craved would fight to survive when faced with insurmountable odds rather than give up. This story is probably more poignant but still, this is a film which leaves itself open to a certain amount of interpretation, with lines of dialogue throughout whcih can mean anything to anyone.
The comments about the plane crashing at 400 mph yet they still survived being one of them. The relentless pursuit of the wolves whilst making sense in the cases of both being alive or dead. ‘Hell Hounds’ or just territorial wolves?
My take open it is ultimately that without any conformation of these “they’re already dead” theories after almost five years, it is safe to assume that this is a survival movie first and foremost but it is nice to think a little deeper about these things and see where it take you. In this case though, dead or alive, the story is well composed, deep and insightful so enjoy it for what it is, but why not take from it what you want.