Movie review: “Into the Wild”

The movie Into the Wild is a 2007 film adaption (directed by Sean Penn) of a 1996 non-fiction book written by Jon Krakauer about the adventures of Christopher McCandless. Krakauer himself had travelled to Alaska in 1974 and returned numerous times afterwards.

The movie is excellent. Go and see it!

Spoiler warning: If you want to see the movie and want to be surprised, please don’t read any further.

According to both the book and the novel, Christopher (played by Emile Hirsch) left his home town of Atlanta, Georgia in June 1990, after graduating from college and giving away all his savings to charity. First driving (until his car is damaged in a flash flood) and then odd-jobbing and hitchhiking, he travels across the United States, briefly down into Mexico, and then up past California to Alaska.

The movie charts certain highlights of his travels through the US, and his encounters with eccentric and interesting characters, many of whom have stepped outside the confines of society for various reasons.

Throughout, Christopher – or as he refers to himself during his travels ‘Alexander Supertramp’ – interacts with people in a very open-hearted, generous, honest and fun-loving way, touching people’s lives and really connecting with them.

His goodbye from Ron Franz, an old man who has taken such a liking to him that he offers to adopt him and thus to give him a grandfather figure who is actually there for him (unlike Chris’ parents, who are seriously dysfunctional), is utterly heartbreaking.

When he finally arrives in Alaska, he goes into the wilderness on his own, walking a trail called the Stampede Trail in April 1992. In the wilderness, surrounded by snow and ice until spring comes, he lives in a converted combi – the “Magic Bus” – which he happens to find.

He is constantly reading books by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy and Jack London, quoting from them, relating their words to his own life and being inspired by their greatness and their vision of living a life that is closer to nature and more in harmony with it.

He reads his books, explores his surroundings, thinks deeply, and writes in his journal. He succeeds in surviving off the land until his death in September 1992, a mere 24 years old.

I so hated the ending. I guess the title “INTO the Wild” (as opposed to “OUT OF” it) should have given me a clue, but I had no idea it was coming.

I can’t help thinking: What a waste of an incredibly talented life.

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Other movies we’ve watched in June: 

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