Into The Wild is based on a book by Jon Krakauer, written about the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who, in the ’90s, gave all of his savings to charity and vanished. He trekked across America and into Alaska, where he lasted for about 100 days before dying of either poisoness berries or starvation, it’s unsure.
While the movie portrays Christopher as some kind of free-spirit on the search for wisdom, the facts of the story seem to indicate that he was more of a fool than tragic hero. He took nothing with him into the wilds of Alaska, such as a compass or map. He was rained in to the area he was camping in, and hence starved to death. However, there was a crossing only a few miles down the river. Oh, for Google maps!
What I did like about the movie was the documentary tone of it – very well directed by Sean Penn. He captured the young man’s will to be at one with nature and to be free from society’s trappings of wealth and expectations. It was a very poignant story too – Chris meets all kinds of people along his travels whose lives he effects in positive ways. Each of these people ask him not to go, and mourn his leaving, yet he seems to have no care to be around people, and dismisses their affection for him, choosing to be alone. He even says to one that you don’t need to have other people to enjoy life and experiences. However, during his three months solitary confinement in Alaska, he seems to get the wisdom that he is seeking. He acknowledges that he is lonely, ans his final act is to write in his journal that happiness is when shared. Pity it took dying alone in the wilderness to discover what most people instinctively just know.
The movie has some great wildlife scenes, and the lead role is acted very well by Emile Hirsch. His physical transformation alone for the role was quite remarkable, added to which his happy-go-lucky character who changes from a boy to a man throughout the movie, is a touching journey to watch.