Does Richard Die In Adrift? Is It A True Story?

The ending of Adrift can only be described as a rollercoaster of emotions.

There were three startling revelations: First, Richard Sharp (played by Sam Claflin) actually died in 1983’s Hurricane Raymond. That brings us to the second revelation. Tami (Shailene Woodley) was actually interacting with a figment of her imagination all along.

Third, Tami has been able to navigate the boat through the Pacific Ocean to Hawaai over the 41 days that past despite having no food or water supplies or navigational tools, all by herself.

To explain a bit about the film, Adrift (2018) tells the story of two sailors who took a voyage onto sea from Tahiti to San Diego in 1983. Things take a bad turn when they ran into Category 4 hurricane Raymond.

The film tells us about the events that led to the trip, the hurricane and its afternath. Based on a true story of Tami Oldham Ashcraft’s survival at sea, the film manages to stir some tears.

After you saw the ending, I bet you had the same questions as me. The film gives you a lot to think about so here’s some discussions about what exactly the ending meant for the film.

Does Richard Die In Adrift?

Richard Sharp is one of the two sailors and Tami Oldham Ashcraft’s fiance, who took up the job of sailing to San Diego with Tami.

In the film, Richard actually dies when they encountered Hurricane Raymond. But we see Tami keep talking to Richard for the rest of her journey, cuddling and singing. This was just a figment of her imagination, since Richard never actually made it to the boat.

Does Richard Die In Adrift? Is It A True Story?
Richard and Tami

The movie shows that Tami actually found Richard hanging by his fingernails and rescued him after the hurricane. When she finds Richard, he is in the worst condition.

He has an open wound from which his bones are protruding, broken ribs and a chest full of deep cuts and bruises. So in short, she has to take the business up in her own hands.

We see how Tami manages to take up this challenge. She does the math to calculate their position and literally survives over peanut butter and spearfish. In many ways, this is a story of a woman’s triumph.

But Richard has a significant role in most part of the film, because we see Tami and Richard having heart to heart conversations, inspiring exchanges and she cuddles him and sings for him.

When it is revealed that Richard was actually never there and was only Tami’s imagination, it is actually a shock. But I think this was a good twist because this means, Richard’s voice actually plays the role of her inner strength.

Also, this is symbolic of Tami’s tremendous mental strength which is the defining point of her character. And in its own bittersweet way, it is the typical romantic touch.

Was Richard Ever Alive In Adrift?

Richard Sharp was alive in Adrift until he and his fiance Tami encounters the horrific hurricane Raymond. After the hurricane, all that we see of Richard is not real, but a figment of Tami’s imagination and manifestation of her inner voice.

Adrift | Final Trailer | Own It Now on Digital HD, Blu-Ray & DVD
Adrift Trailer

The build up we see which leads to Richard and Tami taking the perilous journey of more than 4000 miles in the sea is real. Richard was very much present with his fiance when they took the ride. But we lost him after the hurricane.

In reality too, we lost Richard after the hurricane. But the idea of Tami hallucinating Richard and imagining him being with her all along is a change from reality. Adrift is based on a true story and I think this twist in the film is keeping in mind Oldham’s real statement which she shared in her memoirs.

Was Richard’s Body Found?

No. Unfortunately, Richard’s body was never found in the film or in real life. But Tami took his belongings back to his parents in England.

Does Richard Die In Adrift? Is It A True Story?
Richard and Tami

The tragic story touches you even more if you actually read through Tami’s account and memoirs. According to her, her love for Richard made her survive this dangerous journey.

It is heartbreaking, but Oldham actually lost her own daughter in an incident of carbon monoxide poisoning as well. The shooting of Aldrift began four months from her daughter’s tragic death but yet she visited the sets.

How Much Of Adrift Is True?

Adrift is based on a true story in the most part. The film is an adaptation of the 1998 novel Adrift: A True Story Of Love, Loss and Survival At Sea written by Tami Oldham Ashcraft herself. She talks about her real life experience in the novel.

Tami Oldham Ashcraft On The Real-Life Story Behind Film ‘Adrift,’ Shailene Woodley
Tami Oldham Ashcraft On The Real-Life Story Behind Film ‘Adrift,’ Shaliene Woodley

In reality, 23 year old Tami Oldham Ashcraft and her fiance, Richard Sharp took a perilous journey of more than 4000 miles to San Diego in a yacht on sea. But, everything went haywire when Category 4 hurricane Raymond hit the Pacific Ocean.

Real life is always more tragic than films and shows. It is no different here. After the hurricane hit them, Tami survived but her fiance Richard went missing. She was left all alone to survive the rest of the journey.

The film has tried to keep most of what we saw as accurate. I have personally not read Oldham’s book but I did read her memoirs which she shared in interviews. According to her words to The Chicago Tribune, the hardest part of her journey was losing Richard.

In her memoir, Oldham described the 41 days of her survival after the hurricane and the details of the terrifying hurricane. In the film, these details and facts have been quite accurately captured.

In fact, Odham also stated that there was an “inner voice” which was guiding her. My strongest guess is that this is the inspiration for Richard’s return in Adrift. Whatever Richard tells Tami after the hurricane is actually what her inner voice tells herself.

Considering losing Richard was the hardest part of her survival, it is a romantic twist that the makes and screenwriters decided to add to the film. What I like is that this romantic turn does not necessarily take away anything from Tami’s unparallel strength.

In the film, Richard is a voice that gives her inspiration but it is her who figures out survival strategies and makes decisions. So before a romance, I always see Adrift as the story of a woman’s triumph and survival during the toughest times of her life.

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About Aldrift

Adrift is a 2018 American romantic thriller film produced and directed by Baltasar Kormákur and written by David Branson Smith, Aaron Kandell and Jordan Kandell.

The film is based on the 2002 book Red Sky at Mourning by Tami Oldham Ashcraft, a true story set during the events of Category 4 Hurricane Raymond in the Pacific Ocean in 1983.

The film stars Shailene Woodley and Sam Claflin as Tami Oldham Ashcraft and Richard Sharp, a couple who are adrift in the middle of the Pacific Ocean after a hurricane, and must find their way to Hawaii with a damaged boat and no radio.

Epic Dope Staff

Epic Dope Staff

Our talented team of Freelance writers - Always on the lookout - pour their energies into a wide range of topics bringing to our audience what they crave - fun up-to-date news, reviews, fan theories and much much more.


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