In 2008, Swiss adventurer Xavier Rosset spent ten months in solitude on an uninhabited Tonganese island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. "300 Days Alone" follows his extraordinary adventure living on Tofua with nothing but the clothes off his back, a Swiss knife and machete, a medical kit, a satellite phone, and solar panels to charge his camera equipment.
Tofua is a small volcanic island that has been uninhabited since the 60s due to constant eruptions. This protected national park and wildlife sanctuary served as Xavier's home for 300 days battling the harsh living conditions, the elements and the most challenging - his mental state - to survive.
Once he arrives and the boat sails away, he hits the ground running. We see him make a shelter with his own hands, which is put to the test when it rains and it isn't waterproof. He did not use any of the existing buildings, which were very few and in bad condition. He struggles to make another roof by braiding the coconut husks and leaves together to make it stronger and cheers when it survives.
We watch him learn how to fish and figure out how to preserve the fish by drying them out without any modern appliances so that they stay fresh and safe from ants and other pests. He symbolically puts his watch away for safekeeping. It represents his every day, pre-island life and it’s irrelevant on the island where there is a seemingly infinite amount of time.
Once his immediate physical needs (stable food supply and shelter) are met, Xavier begins exploring the island to discover what else it offers. He visits the nearby active volcano and stares into its caldera in absolute joy. He walks around the coast, staring at the Ocean, and treks for hours looking for the cave where Captain Bligh's and his crew lived when they were stranded on Tofua in 1789 during the infamous mutiny on the HMS Bounty.
What soon becomes clear to both him and us viewers is that Xavier adjusts very well to the physical hardships and discomfort of being stranded - despite suffering some harmful infections due to cuts on his hand from all the woodwork. But the tedium of doing nothing, feelings of having no purpose and the solitude prey on his mind. He struggles with being alone, having no one to talk to or bounce off ideas with.
He is saved from despair by the desperate visit from a resident on a neighboring island who needed help to save his friend's finger. Norwegian tourists also drop by to visit the island and the volcano. As a thank you gift for the reattached finger, Xavier is given a dog as a companion. He finds a baby pig whom he cares for, and things immediately pick up for his mental health.
Despite the struggles, it is a joyous movie to watch. At the end of his adventure, Xavier reflects on how living on an isolated island has made him appreciate everything life offers.
Directed by: Olivier Vittel