Learn how to survive COVID-19 quarantine from these movies about isolation

As circuit breaker measures are increasingly tightened, it’s easy to feel alone when you can no longer see your friends and loved ones face to face.

If you want some tips on how to survive this lonely and scary period, or simply something to cheer you up, these movies about isolation might do just the trick.

All of them feature characters that are isolated in some way, and their stories will make you feel less alone and even grateful that our current situation is nowhere near as bad.

Rear window (1954)      

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Cast: James Stewart, Grace Kelly, Wendell Corey, Thelma Ritter, Raymond Burr
Rating: PG

Perhaps no movie character shares what we collectively are feeling right now like the main character in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Jefferies (James Steward), a professional photographer, is stuck in his apartment after an occupational accident left his leg in a cast. Used to exotic adventures in foreign countries, Jefferies is bored out of his mind and resorts to looking into his neighbours’ windows every day to entertain himself.

Suspicious activities from one of his neighbours lead Jefferies to think that a murder has occurred. Determined to solved the case, he enlists the help of his girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and his nurse (Thelma Ritter) to investigate, not knowing he’s inviting trouble into his own home.

The Martian (2015)

Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Kristen Wiig, Jeff Daniels, Michael Peña, Kate Mara, Sean Bean, Sebastian Stan
Rating: PG-13

Nothing says isolation like being stranded on a planet with no means of communication to Earth. That’s what has happened to astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon), after his crew evacuated from Mars in a storm and left him behind.

While we haven’t reached the point of having to grow our own potatoes like Mark does, we can all learn from his humour and positivity as he struggles to survive on an uninhabitable planet all by himself.

The Wolf’s Call (2019)

Director: Antonin Baudry
Cast: François Civil, Omar Sy, Mathieu Kassovitz, Reda Kateb
Rating: PG-13

After space, the ocean might just be the loneliest place humans have ever been to, and no one feels that quite acutely as submariners, confined in an enclosed space for weeks or even months on end.

If you want to see what this type of extreme isolation feels like, check out the 2019 French action thriller The Wolf’s Call, which tells the story of a French ballistic missile submarine caught in the threat of a nuclear war between France and Russia. Some of the scenes in the movie were shot on actual French submarines, so you can get a glimpse into what life aboard a submarine is like. You’ll probably feel much better about your own state of self-isolation afterwards!

Cast Away (2000)

Director: Robert Zemeckis
Cast: Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt, Nick Searcy
Rating: PG-13

Even without the news of Tom Hanks contracting the COVID-19 virus, Cast Away starring the veteran actor is already one of the most perfect ‘quarantine’ movies to watch during this period. In this movie, Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) is stranded on an uninhabited island after his plane crash into the Pacific Ocean. All by himself, save for the company of a volleyball he names Wilson, Chuck must learn to survive and find his way back to civilisation.

Home Alone (1990)

Director: Chris Columbus
Cast: Macaulay Culkin, Joe Pesci, Daniel Stern, John Heard, Catherine O’Hara
Rating: PG

If you live on your own, you might find yourself in the position of Kevin (Macaulay Culkin) a.k.a. “home alone” quite often these days. And what better way of passing this time than watching this eight-year-old boy’s hilarious efforts to defend his home against two bumbling burglars? No one likes being visited by burglars, but the movie sure makes it fun to watch!

Tangled (2010)

Director: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard
Cast: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy
Rating: PG

Trapped in a tower and yearning for adventures despite being told that the outside world is full of danger, that’s a description of Rapunzel from Disney’s Tangled, but it could very well be applied to all of us right now. Alas, there’s no handsome thief who will come to take us away to see flying lanterns, but at least we can live vicariously through the fearless heroine while waiting for our own self-quarantine to be over.

Fun fact: the kingdom where the movie takes place is named Corona. A coincidence or did Disney predict the pandemic back in 2010? We leave it to you to decide.

127 Hours (2010)

Director: Danny Boyle
Cast:  James Franco, Kate Mara, Amber Tamblyn, Clémence Poésy
Rating: R

We may be bored from sitting around at home for too long, but being trapped in nature can be so much worse – something that the main character in 127 Hours can definitely attest to.

The 2010 biographical movie revolves around hiker Aron Ralston (James Franco) and a climbing accident that causes him to be trapped inside a canyon for days. The 127 hours in the title is the period of time covered in the film, from when Aron wakes up on the day of the accident to when he’s rescued, which is an awfully long time for someone to be trapped with his right hand having been crushed by a boulder. Moral of the story? Always let someone know before you go on a hiking trip, which is what Aron failed to do.

Wall-E (2008)

Director: Andrew Stanton
Cast: Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin, Fred Willard, John Ratzenberger, Kathy Najimy and Sigourney Weaver
Rating: G

The pessimists among us can turn to Pixar’s 2008 sci-fi animation Wall-E for a glimpse into a dystopian future where the only inhabitant left on Earth is a garbage-collecting robot called Wall-E.

Wall-E has been alone for 700 years, before he meets and falls in love with EVE, a robot sent to Earth to search for signs of life. When EVE is taken back to the mothership, Wall-E embarks on a journey across the galaxy in pursuit of his only friend.

Wall-E’s longing for connections is especially relatable right now, and the next time you feel sad about not seeing your friends, you can be glad they’re just a video call away and not across the galaxy.

Hugo (2011)

Director: Martin Scorsese 
Cast: Ben Kingsley, Sacha Baron Cohen, Asa Butterfield, Chloë Grace Moretz, Ray Winstone, Emily Mortimer, Jude Law
Rating: PG

If you want to escape into another world to distract yourself from everything that’s going on, Martin Scorsese’s Hugo is just the movie for you. Set in Paris in 1930s, the movie tells the story of a young orphan named Hugo (Asa Butterfield) who, together with his uncle, maintains the giant clocks at a railway station.

With nowhere to stay after his uncle goes missing, Hugo hides out in a secret compartment behind the clock walls at the station while trying to uncover the secret of his late father’s most prized possession – a broken automaton.

Full of magic, wizardry and nostalgic charm, the film is a must-watch for both adults and children, and will surely take your mind off the stressful real world right now.

The Boy in the Plastic Bubble (1976)

Director: Randal Kleiser
Cast: John Travolta, Diana Hyland, Robert Reed, Ralph Bellamy, Glynnis O’Connor
Rating: PG

With the increasing threat of infection nowadays, we probably feel a little bit like the main character from The Boy in the Plastic Bubble every time we step outside. Inspired by real-life events, the movie tells the story of Tod (John Travolta), who was born without an effective immune system and has to live in a protective “bubble” all his life. Things change when Tod falls in love with his next-door neighbour and has to decide whether to risk his life by leaving the house to be with her.