|Into the Wild
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This is the true story of Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch). Freshly graduated from college with a promising future ahead McCandless instead walked out of his privileged life and into the wild in search of adventure. What happened to him on the way transformed this young wanderer into an enduring symbol for countless people -- a fearless risk-taker who wrestled with the precarious balance between man and nature.System Requirements:Running Time: 148 Mins.Format: DVD MOVIE Genre: ACTION/ADVENTURE/COMING OF AGE Rating: R UPC: 097363481249 Manufacturer No: 348124
A superb cast and an even-handed treatment of a true story buoy Into the Wild, Sean Penn's screen adaptation of Jon Krakauer's bestselling book. Emile Hirsch stars as Christopher McCandless, scion of a prosperous but troubled family who, after graduating from Atlanta's Emory University in the early 1990s, decides to chuck it all and become a self-styled "aesthetic voyager" in search of "ultimate freedom." He certainly doesn't do it halfway: after donating his substantial savings account to charity and literally torching the rest of his cash, McCandless changes his name (to "Alexander Supertramp"), abandons his family (William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden as his bickering, clueless parents and Jena Malone as his baffled but loving sister, who relates much of the backstory in voice-over), and hits the road, bound for the Alaskan bush and determined not to be found. For the next two years he lives the life of a vagabond, working a few odd jobs, kayaking through the Grand Canyon into Mexico, landing on L.A.'s Skid Row, and turning his back on everyone who tried to befriends him (including Catherine Keener and Brian Dierker as two kindly, middle-aged hippies and Hal Holbrook in a deeply affecting performance as an old widower who tries to take "Alex" under his wing). Penn, who directed and wrote the screenplay, alternates these interludes with scenes depicting McCandless' Alaskan idyll--which soon turns out be not so idyllic after all. Settling into an abandoned school bus, he manages to sustain himself for a while, shooting small game (and one very large moose), reading, and recording his existential musings on paper. But when the harsh realities of life in the wilderness set in, our boy finds himself well out of his depth, not just ill-prepared for the rigors of day to day survival but realizing the importance of the very thing he wanted to escape--namely, human relationships. It'd be easy to either idealize McCandless as a genuinely free spirit, unencumbered by the societal strictures that tie the rest of us down, or else dismiss him as a hopelessly callow na?f, a fool whose disdain for practical realities ultimately doomed him. Into the Wild does neither, for the most part telling the tale with an admirable lack of cheap sentiment and leaving us to decide for ourselves. --Sam Graham
An amazingly well shot, scripted, acted, and scored (soundtracked?) film. It could not have been made better, and Alexander Supertramp would have approved.
If you hated it, wished something would have happened, or thought McCandless was selfish, well, all I can say is, after your dinner at Applebee's, go back to your box in the suburbs, turn on Dancing with the Stars, and continue living the mundane life your parents told you to live. I'm sure you'll be very happy. ...more info
- Unleash the human spirit
"The circles they grow
and they swallow people whole"--Eddie Vedder
It is so easy in life to get wrapped up in our daily routines and comfortable habits. INTO THE WILD is an inspirational story about a young man that broke the chains of conventional thinking and walked his own path. I was expecting a basic, feel-good story that can't escape a certain level of foolish sentimentality. But this journey is much more complex.
It's the true story of Christopher McCandless, AKA Alexander Supertramp, a young man who abandoned his life of luxury in order to quench his thirst for adventure. He was a college grad from a wealthy family, but just had different plans than those that were laid out for him.
He donated his $25,000 savings to the hungry and embarked on his quest of fufillment in the wilderness. Becoming one with nature. His journey had one ultimate goal--Alaska. He was ill-prepared to survive the harsh elements, having just his rifle and a field guide for edible plants. Sound a little crazy?
Well yes, it very well might be. But Chris was an educated man, plus he had quite an infectious personality. People seemed to be drawn toward his free spirit, which was evident in his numerous encounters along the way.
So I doubt he was totally naive to the dangers his brave quest entailed. He was running towards something, but quite possibly away from something as well.
Emile Hirsch does an absolutely amazing job in this role. Sean Penn also does an incredible job directing this story. It really captures the heart of this wayward adventure, which was courageous, admirable, and also quite delusional. A must see film.
- DOOMED BY HIS OWN HUBRIS AND LACK OF COMPASSION
for his own family. McCandless was able to form quick friendships which were more deep and sincere on the parts of the other people, his were rather more superficial at that point in time. He was filled with the angst and implacable censoriousness of youth and none of the appreciation for the fallibility of people, e.g., his own parents. Ostensibly it was the revelation that his father had continued relations with his first wife while married to his second and this sin, in McCandless's eyes, colored his entire life including his education, a career and any and all "things" that were in any way reminiscent of his parents. He nursed a cold rage against his father especially and used this revelation to justify his extreme callousness and carelessness toward his entire family including the sister he was so fond of and the abandoment of his car, a vehicle he supposedly treasured. He planned to inflict the ultimate hurt against his family by plotting his own disappearance and was so focused on this goal he lost sight of right and wrong and only considered his own wants which doomed him to die of starvation alone in the wilderness.
His arrogant, brash nickname "Alexander Supertramp" was another symptom of his hubris which ultimately seared his family with sorrow and drove him to a cold and lonely death in the old bus with no one around to comfort him in his last moments. He had fun playing the adventurer, for a while, then when he faced the reality of the situation he placed himself in, the fun and adventure vanished and he was left only with his very bad decisions. He went into a cold, forbidding environment virtually unprepared and without any supplies to speak of; tiny changes to his venture would have ensured his survival but it was not to be. Something as simple as slicing thin strips of the moose he killed and air drying them as opposed to smoking the meat and ending up with a maggot filled mess. Carrying beef jerky and dried fruit with him would have helped, pretty much any common care would have resulted in life instead of death and I do not believe for one second he intended or wanted to die. But he chose to ignore wise advice from people who had successfully gone into the wilderness and tried to give him the benefit of their own experiences...he even refused one man who offered to take him to buy adequate supplies. McCandless refused. It is a waste, it is not romantic at all, it is a tragedy and all the young men and women who find this event adventurous and exciting and worship McCandless and deify him are all sadly mistaken. The film was excellent and the music and actors all superb, but ultimately it describes a vengeful, angry, selfish, self centered young man who harbored a horrible grudge against his family and never even discussed this with them, but chose to plot to wreak revenge on them instead, which he did succeed at, his only success in this doomed adventure.
This movie is so intense and so moving at the same time. Emile is Chris all the way! Every person should watch this movie, it teaches a lot. It is very sad that Chris learned the hard way. Great book, awesome movie!! ...more info
- I watched it in disbelief
Coleridge taught us that to enjoy fiction, we need to have a "willing suspension of disbelief". But "Into the Wild" is supposed to be a "true" story: it should hang together (within the liberties required to compress years of plot into a couple of hours). What we get instead is Krakauer and Sean Penn's romanticization of a life and a death that make no sense. The viewer, like the family member of an alcoholic, starts in denial. When Chris McCandless buys rice, a book on native plants a 22 rifle and cartridges, we don't realize that that was ALL he took with him on his trek to the coast (no compass, no map, nothing to eat besides rice, no plan for what happens after he reaches the ocean). Penn & Krakauer try to make this a heroic tragedy. That just doesn't work for me.
About the time McCandless settles down in an abandoned bus to starve to death because he realizes he cannot get back across the raging river I found myself asking questions like "How did the bus get there? Did it ford the raging river and climb the fifty foot bank, or did it perhaps come by the road? Why isn't this explorer following the bus tracks?" I left with the uncomfortable feeling that Chris McCandless was a pathetic -- not a tragic -- figure, probably probably mentally ill, who ran off into the wilderness and died. My heart goes out to the McCandless family who have their loss portrayed for the masses but not before Penn has tarred their reputation and blamed them for Chris's problems (as nearly as I can tell from the internet accounts, the horrid parents are Penn's adaptation): as mental health professionals will tell you, mental illness is not the parent's fault.
Although the cinematography is great (the scenery is stunning) and much of the acting is first rate, my lasting impression of the movie is one of being in very poor taste. I feel like I owe the McCandless family an apology for having watched it....more info
- Wow ...... !
If this movie didn't bring out the cuckoo-birds out of their looney-bins to expound their goofy conclusions about McCandless and this, his story, as this movie portrays it. Just read some of those low-marks reviews ! I rate it 5 stars for all those reasons others rated this film a five - with their accurately thoughtout reviews. ...more info
- Great film
The best film for the year of theatrical release. Sean Penn was robbed by the Academy for not nominated as one of the Best Picture. Robbed. Period....more info
- Should have read "To Build a Fire" Before he Set Out
When I was in high school, Jack London's story, "To Build a Fire" was required reading in at least one English class. Why? Well besides being an incredibly well-written story and from the unsentimental naturalist school, perhaps someone in the faculty was trying to send a not so subtle message to us teenagers to "not do something really stupid."
Chris McCandless either never read the story or blew it off thinking it could never happen to him.
To Build a Fire is story about an Alaskan adventurer who gets his feet wet and has about 15 min to build a fire and warm and dry his feet before they freeze making it impossible to get out alive. The story made a huge impression on me because it drove home the point that nature is powerful and in unforgiving conditions when it's man vs nature, nature usually wins unless man is just pure lucky. And in London's story, this is a guy who actually knew what he was doing.
In McCandless' case you could have titled the story "To Smoke a Moose" because after McCandless manages to shoot and kill a moose he has no clue what to do with the carcass and tries to skin, dress, and smoke the huge animal. It turns into a flyblown mess and as everyone else has already commented, McCandless dies of starvation not long afterwards.
It's a beautiful movie and is painfully true to the book. I gave my review 3-stars because as a production, Sean Penn did an amazing job not only of directing but of casting, cinematography, set design, and the sound track. It's a beautiful film in many ways and the performances, particularly by Emile Hirsch, Catherine Keener, and Hal Holbrook are affecting.
The problem is McCandless just isn't a sympathetic character. He's clearly bright, likable, and idealistic. But he's also young, self-centered, and clueless and completely caught up into the romance of his adventure. Like a lot of 20-somethings. Unfortunately his situation was a lot more extreme and unforgiving than the struggles most of his peers were dealing with.
The tragedy that struck me most was that Chris had a knack for connecting with people at a deep level. He seemed to make close friendships easily with others pursuing an alternative lifestyle. Yet, he's irresponsible in his relationships in the sense that he doesn't take into account the affect he has on the hearts of others. Nor does he fully understand what a loss it is for others when he moves on.
At the very end when, for the first, time he realizes that he's in over his head and he may very well lose his life, how much those connections mattered. By then, unfortunately, it's too late.
If you have a friend or kid with wanderlust, make sure they read To Build a Fire before they set out on their Great Adventure. ...more info
- Wandering and Wonder over Worrying and War
Wandering and Wonder over Worrying and War
When it came time to review this movie, I could not do it. That is, I could not do it without also reviewing it within the context of two other movies that I had just recently watched because all three of them have such a similar theme. In fact, they all have so many things in common that I decided to review all three of them at the same time as a medley, something I have never done before but which seems called for. If you'll follow me, you'll see what I'm getting at.
I was recently talking to a friend of mine at work when we happened to run into each other in the men's room. He asked me if I had ever seen the film EASY RIDER, and I answered that it was interesting and very synchronistic that he should ask me that because it was the last movie that I had just enjoyed watching at home on DVD. I said, "Man, you know, I was JUST watching that last week! I LOVE that movie. I wanted to get the deluxe edition but I could not find it anywhere, so I just picked up the regular one at GIANT (the local supermarket) in the bargain bin for nine bucks." My friend, Ian, then said, "I only own three movies in my collection: EASY RIDER, THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, and INTO THE WILD. Have you seen the other two?" I answered that I had not and that I had always wanted to see the both of them, to which he quickly replied, "You can borrow mine, man. I'll bring them in tomorrow for you." "Hey, thanks a lot, man," I replied with gratitude, and we both went back to work.
I watched both of those movies Ian let me borrow over the weekend of April 10, 11, 12, 2009 right on the heels of having watched EASY RIDER just weeks before. The amazing amount of similar themes running through all three of these films is impressive. All three of these movies express a preference for wandering and wonder over worrying and war for the characters involved. Each of them seems to express the plight of characters dealing with their own, personal rejection of the reality of petty worries and war (The Iliad), and choosing, instead, a life of venturing forth into the unknown world of wonder and wandering (The Odyssey). The characters in all three of these movies depict a great love of adventure and a great joy of being out on the open road. Jack Kerouac, author of ON THE ROAD, would have loved all three of these fantastic films, especially INTO THE WILD, as he was a great lover of the books of Jack London. Also, they all have a great, cinematic and panoramic, wide-angle viewpoint of the world. Watching these films gets one out of one's own head and puts one right into the world of the film. The scenery in all three films is stunning and absolutely breathtaking. The viewer is immediately projected "into the wild" world (if you will) of the characters. It's intense! You get taken along for a ride that goes not only far and wide out into the world but, also, deep into the hidden spaces of one's heart and mind. All three of these films will make you think about your own life in particular as well as the greater meaning of life in general. They are deep, psychological films that demand conscious labor of intellectual thought and emotional soul searching on the part of the viewer. You get taken for a ride, but it is definitely NOT "easy!"
In my case, watching these films - especially INTO THE WILD - brought me back to a time when I myself, like the character in the movie, was 22 years old and questioning my place in life: what I wanted to be, what I wanted to do, where I wanted to live, how I wanted to live, and who I wanted to be with. I realize now that I was seeking a sense of place to fit in and a community to be a part of that I felt comfortable in more than merely trying to "find myself." But understanding that when you are going through it is another thing altogether. Watching INTO THE WILD hits home on all these points and more! I remember having just seen The Grateful Dead in concert in Hartford, Connecticut with my good buddy, Jimmy, in May of 1997, and feeling like I wanted to just bust loose of all of the constraints of society that seemed to be holding me back from my true calling - whatever that was. I was feeling like a wild animal caught in a trap, and I wanted to be free. I had dropped out of college almost two years before, and I had been working at two jobs back in my hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts. That summer, like the kid in INTO THE WILD, I planned to get away and I bought a bunch of camping equipment, quit my jobs, and hit the road. I first went up north to New York State to camp out with some members of the Neo-American Church in the region of Cranberry Lake. When I decided not to stay and started to trek back out to head off somewhere else, my glasses fell off of my head and into the muddy, swampy muck I had found myself in along the water's edge. It took me an hour to find them. I realized then and there that I was handicapped for this kind of wandering around with all this heavy weight on my shoulders. So, I hitchhiked back home, feeling just as lost and just as confused as ever. I continued to read hundreds of books to find an answer to my quest for authenticity and community, only to learn that I was just making the book stores richer. I tried yet again to break away that fall, and went back to western Massachusetts to see if I could find work out near my friends who were still going to school there. I could relate to the scene in INTO THE WILD where Christopher writes in his diary of all freedom seekers in the history of this country seeking it by going out "west." Whenever I would hear the lyrics to "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin, when Robert Plants sings: "There's a feeling I get when I look to the west and my spirit is crying for leaving," I would feel an urge inside me to head out west before I got too old to do it. Indeed, Christopher tries to inspire the old man who wanted to adopt him in the film (Hank Holbrook) to do the very same thing! After spending two weeks looking for work with no luck, and deciding not to move into a deserted cabin or tepee built out in the back woods of a local farmer's land because of the weather and being all alone, I left the generous hospitality of my good friend, Greg, and once more headed back home to find my way that way. Years later, after working an assortment of odd jobs over many years, I eventually ended up opening my own health food store in the summer of 1989 after deciding not to buy some land way up north in Maine or Vermont near the Canadian border - the only place I could afford land at the time. I concluded that if I bought the land, I would never be able to later do the health food store (one of the last business bastions left of hippiedom in corporate America), but if I opened the store and did not like it, I could always cash-in and then go off and buy some land somewhere out in the woods. I was always talking about "moving to Alaska," to live in freedom and stuff like that - so I can really relate to what Christopher McCandless (the real character and promising young man of the true story of INTO THE WILD) was going through. I felt like I was looking at myself re-living my past. He took the path I almost took. I turned back. He never got the chance to. God only knows where he would be today if he had lived to tell his story!
I have a cousin who actually did the same thing once. He was even younger than me when he did it. My cousin, George, actually made it all the way to Alaska, and then Hawaii, and then Europe as well. He went all around the world. When he reached Alaska, he hooked up with some of his old friends from Dunstable, Massachusetts who had also moved up there to make money working on the pipeline and on fishing boats. He found work up there for a while, too, just like some of the characters in these three films. They worked along the way to help to make their journey. George ended up finding his friend, Jim Lavrakas, a famous photographer today for the Anchorage Daily News in Alaska. Ernesto and Alberto worked in a Leper Colony for a while in Peru. Christopher McCandless worked out in the fields cutting grain for a while to help pay his way. I have a good friend named Phil who actually did do what I had once intended on doing myself. He worked his butt off for years, saved a bunch of cash, and bought himself 25 acres of land up in Maine where he lives off the grid out in the woods as an independent, organic farmer and orchard grower. He says he did it to be able to live like a free man out on the land away from all of the social evils and urban ugliness of the city. He also wanted to be free and independent of his family, like Chris in INTO THE WILD. He did it. I guess I was too much of a homebody and a Hobbit to live alone all by myself out in the woods somewhere where no one knew me. It takes courage to live alone like Thoreau out in the wild. You need guts to do this kind of stuff. I know that one reason why I returned back home from my meager attempt at wandering through the woods was that I really missed music. I am a musician. There is no way to jam with other people and enjoy music and dance when you live alone out in the woods. It is impossible. Nevertheless, till this day, the TV series that ran in the early nineties about life up in a small town called Cicely, Alaska - NORTHERN EXPOSURE - is still my all-time, favorite television program. It had colorful characters. I guess some romantic ideas die hard.
It takes a lot of courage to leave the comforts of home and cut loose from all of your support system of family and friends and to just take off and hit the road to God knows where. It's a "wild world," as Cat Stevens sings, and you've got to take care. All three films show the major characters getting into trouble out on the road. "Alexander Supertramp" (the vagabond name Christopher McCandless chose for himself after cutting up his social security card and all of his other documents of official identity before he hit the road) got the hell beaten out of him by railroad man one dark night when he was hobo-ing it out on a train. Both Ernesto and Alberto got chased out of town by a jealous husband and all of his hometown buddies after one of his friends saw the husband's wife flirting and dancing with Ernesto on the dance floor. In EASY RIDER, Peter Fonda's motorcycle gets a flat tire (the least of their troubles) just like Alberto's motorcycle kept on breaking down and eventually dying on them in THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES. These young characters in all of these films were not exactly experiencing the metaphysical revelations of Robert M. Pirsig in his masterful ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE - at least not at first - but they certainly all ran into a lot of trouble. The spiritual revelations began to come to them later, along the way. Indeed, all the major characters have major transformational experiences in one way or another as a result of their personal quests and traveling adventures. The road changes you. Also, there are many forks in the road, as Neil Young most recently informs us. It's hard to decide sometimes which way to go.
This changing of one's name seems to be a prerequisite to being a beat, road warrior out on the highway. Not only does Christopher change his name, but in EASY RIDER, the character played by Peter Fonda changes his name from Wyatt to "Captain America," and the character played by Dennis Hopper begins to call himself "Billy the Kid," both taking on the persona of Wild West characters of historical, American lore. In THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, Ernesto begins to be called "Fuser" and "Che" (the name that stuck with him for the rest of his life!) while his buddy, Alberto, begins to be called "Mial." It's almost as if one has to shed one's former identity as a snake sheds its skin in order to take on one's true identity - and this requires the taking on of a new name, one which reflects one's true identity.
Another thing these movies have in common is the pairing of a more sensitive and reflective character with a more rough & tumble and more aggressive character. In the case of INTO THE WILD, the character - who is very sensitive and contemplative - is paired up against the people he meets on his journey along the way, many of which tend to be less graceful and sensitive as he is. In THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, Ernesto is very much like the character that Peter Fonda portrays in EASY RIDER, and Alberto is, also, very much like the character that Dennis Hopper plays. The likeness is astounding. Ernesto, like Christopher McCandless in INTO THE WILD, is always writing in his journal and thinking about the deeper meaning of things. Peter Fonda, as well, is portrayed as the more thoughtful and contemplative one than the rambunctious and womanizing Dennis Hopper. One character is graceful and patient, full of compassion for other people, while the other is less refined and always in a hurry, and somewhat more selfish. They are like The Odd Couple - but riding on motorcycles!
Another theme that runs deeply through all three films is the powerful and destiny changing power of rivers! The awesome power of the natural world, exemplified by a river in all three films, is undeniable. You can't miss it. In the case of INTO THE WILD, it was the raging force of the rolling river rapids that prevented Chris from crossing back in the spring to the other side from which he came. It was too wide, too deep, and with waters gushing too fast to cross. He was forced to go back to the bus where he had been living all winter. It ultimately decided his destiny for him. He almost drowned in it on his attempt to cross it. In the end, it was because of the river which separated him from all that he cared about in his past that sealed his fate. The poison plants he mistakenly ingested while he was starving did not help, either. In the case of EASY RIDER, it was along the river that both characters met their fate, and got blown away by a couple of backwoods rednecks out for a spin in their pickup truck. Maybe it was their bad karma? Still, the injustice of the moment is profound, as one watches Peter Fonda's motorcycle go up in flames while Roger McGuinn of the Byrds sings Bob Dylan's song, "The Ballad of Easy Rider,' as the lyrics "flow, river flow" repeat throughout the song like the flowing river itself. In the case of THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, it was along the river where Ernesto found himself, in the sense of his true calling, while administering to a sick, leper woman who made him realize that there are other ways to heal people - and prevent them from getting sick in the first place - than by being a physician to individuals. Society itself can be in great need of a social healer. The river separated the sick lepers on one side from the hospital care workers on the other. Ernesto refused to wear the superstitious rubber gloves on his hands from the very first day. One night, on his birthday, he had a spiritual rebirth when he took a rite of passage and dove into the river, swimming all the way across to the other side where all of the sick lepers along the shore encouraged him on. On doing so, he once and for all proved to his friend, Alberto, that he was no wimp but a true man with determination and courage. He showed an inner strength that inspired all of those around him. How they cheered his victory over the river! He would not be stopped by anything. That came later, when he was "Che Guevara" the revolutionary in Bolivia, when the sneaky CIA killed him. His nobility still shines brightly! Like "Alexander Supertramp" in INTO THE WILD and "Captain America" in EASY RIDER, he had a huge heart and a great soul. He truly cared about people.
Another theme that runs through all three of these films is a sense of loneliness. The number on the bus that Christopher lived in depicted in INTO THE WILD is number 142. Numerologically, this adds up to a number 7 - the number of solitude and loneliness. In EASY RIDER, the character played by Peter Fonda ends up all alone in a New Orleans cemetery, perched atop a statue of the Virgin Mary while he's peaking on LSD in a death-rebirth acid trip-induced mystical experience, screaming out in tears to his real dead mother and asking her why she killed herself, leaving him all alone. In THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, you find Ernesto feeling more and more isolated from his friend and feeling lonely after he receives the "Dear John letter" from his girlfriend who they had visited just weeks before. His sense of loss and isolation is profound. His shattered dream of a romantic relationship with this woman cleared the path to true enlightenment for him. The viewer can sense this profoundly at the end of the film when you see him saying goodbye to Alberto before getting alone onto the aeroplane waiting to take him away toward his ultimate destiny. All three of these characters experienced major spiritual transformations along their journey out on the road of life far away from home.
One last characteristic that all the major characters in these three films have in common is their persistent, uncompromising, diligently determined drive to all reach their goals - for good or ill. They are all absolutely hell-bent on following their dreams and dancing to the beat of their own drummer. They all choose freedom over security. Ironically, they all consciously choose the path of Odysseus - of wandering - but they all end up reaching the same end as Achilles - of dying young in a flame of glory. That's fate. The ancient Greeks called her "Moira." Even the Gods themselves are at her mercy. In EASY RIDER, Billy was always pushing his more contemplative partner onward toward their goal of reaching the famous whorehouse in New Orleans. It almost seems as if the only reason why "Captain America" wanted to also go was to pay his respects to their long lost companion, George (played dramatically by Jack Nicholson) the attorney who got them out of jail, whose idea it was to go there in the first place. Peter Fonda's character was loyal to a fault when it came to his friendship with Billy. In THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, Alberto (the horny rascal) was always pushing Ernesto to go out of his spiritual centeredness and jump into the dangerous fray of the more seedy side of life. Finally, in INTO THE WILD, it was "Alexander Supertramp's" intense reaction to the constant, dysfunctional fighting between his mother and father back home that pushed him on and outward to not ever end up in the same situation himself. We must also acknowledge that all of these characters were young and anxious to sew some of their wild oats, a natural condition of youth everywhere.
One might ask what would have happened to all of these characters if they had changed their minds along the way of their respective, individual quests and decided, instead, to stay with companions they had met along the way, or turn back and go back home? I remember when I first saw EASY RIDER as a kid, when it first came out in 1969. We all went to the movie theater as a group and all watched it together, getting a kick out of hippies smoking real pot, live and on camera. Some of us thought they should have stayed in the hippie commune. If they had lived, would they have stayed together? Would "Captain America" have gone back to be with those people? The same goes for INTO THE WILD. What would have happened if Christopher had stayed longer with his hippie friends in the trailer park? What would have happened if he left Alaska before the ice melted and went back to be with the girl he sang with who was a musician and who clearly cared for him? In THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, what would have happened if Ernesto changed his mind and went back to be with his girlfriend? Would there have ever been a Cuban revolution? It's interesting that the characters in EASY RIDER had the goal of reaching a whorehouse, and the character in THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES - "Che Guevara" - was instrumental in ridding CUBA of all of its underworld-controlled and corrupt, exploitative whorehouses and gambling casinos! Who woulda thunk that - coming from this bookish, sensitive doctor!
Ultimately, what one comes away learning from all three of these films, and which is expressed at the end of INTO THE WILD by Christopher McCandless, is that what really matters most in life is true happiness and peace of mind, and that the only way to be truly fulfilled and happy is by sharing it with other people. Happiness can only be found in community. To reach a real community where you can truly be yourself and live an authentic life is a real blessing. Billy and "Captain America" never got the chance. Christopher McCandless learned this truth - but too late to live it. Only Ernesto reached the higher octave of societal existence and sustained a life on a higher level of community involvement through his unbending will and indomitable spirit to "work for the good of the whole," as my friend, Al, likes to say. He was true to himself; that is, he took what he learned from being alone on the road away from home and brought it back with him to transform society back home and, ultimately, everywhere. He may have fallen off that damn, rickety, old motorcycle one too many times to be content with the trust in machinery and mechanical living to the extent that most people allow themselves to fall prey to. He found true freedom from the fold by transforming the fold itself, and it was life on the road that transformed him.
Thoreau said it best: "In wilderness is the preservation of the world." Wandering through the wilderness is dynamically healing!
... YOWZA! - George Nicholas Koumantzelis / The Aeolian Kid ... April 15, 2009
- Into the wild
The product is like expectin don't play in any of my Dvd of course is no anybody fault i dont have HD dvd player.......more info
How did the bus get there? Of all the questions (pseudo and real) that Sean Penn's latest film, Into The Wild, is so manifestly trying to provoke- and in a semi-retarded hippy-cum-tree hugger sort of way, this most basic and elemental plot point is never addressed. But, more on that later.
The film is based upon the 1996 nonfiction bestseller by Jon Krakauer, about a spoiled rich white suburban boy who basically commits suicide in the Alaskan wilderness, although he is so painfully unaware of the real world that he does not even know his own dark- almost Objectivist, impulses, and where they will lead. The book the film is based upon was a good read, even if one might question the wisdom of making a martyr out of such a delusional narcissist as Christopher Johnson McCandless (Emile Hirsch)- the 24 year old who starved to death on the aforementioned bus, after accidentally poisoning himself with inedible berries, in the middle of Alaska's wilds, after adopting the pseudonym Alexander Supertramp.
The lead character is simply annoyingly repellant- perhaps only Roberto Benigni's lead character, Guido, in the awful Life Is Beautiful, makes a viewer more actively root for the character's death. In that film the lead character is so annoying that one actually roots for the Nazis to kill him, and in this film McCandless is so pompous and the film so long (140 minutes, compared to a book barely over 200 pages) that, at the hour mark, one wishes he'd just die already, so one can vacate the theater. But, no relief will come for over an hour. But, as repellant as Chris McCandless, the character, is, the direction by Sean Penn- in his first truly big budget feature, is ATROCIOUS! Yes, Penn is a great actor, but his direction, and even worse screenplay, make this film a chore. Only some stellar acting, mostly by supporting actors, saves this film from total disaster.... That so many people identify and sympathize with this unfortunately deluded and hollow young loser bespeaks how little they even notice themselves, and their own flaws, much less the many other McCandlesses that proliferate in cafes across the nation. Life is as real, both for the good and ill, in a New York City deli, a doctor's waiting room, or in a tenement, as it is on the peak of Mount Everest, riding the tube of a forty foot wave in Hawaii, or trekking through the Amazon. McCandless never learned this for no one seemed to care enough to even try to stop him. Of course, even had they, he was so selfish and uncaring of others' feelings, that he likely would not have been deterred. And, Penn would likely not have cared to make a film about such a character, anyway.
So, given the predetermined mess of this film, I return to the opening query- how did the bus, which the film refers to as `magic'- thank you to The Who, get there? A Google search reveals the bus was fortuitously left by a highway construction company, decades earlier, to be used as a waystation for hikers, hunters, and campers. Since everything else in this film is so obvious, I just thought you'd want to know that and, also, to avoid this film. Thank me later.
- Free at Last
What i Got out of this movie was simply that this young man lacked nothing materially, but was starved for a relationship with his dad and mom, and had the father wound so common for american young men... having grown up with hard working dads who come home at night spent, and who spend lots of time assembling their portfolios and place their security in how much money they have and what status level they are at, how many toys they have..ect ect.. this young man had probably been told most of his life what to do, how to do it, and this is what success is blah blah... you must look like this, act like this, go here and do this and he was damn tired of it, and wanted to find out who he really was, and if it was impossible to find himself in the presence of his family then he had to get away, and if they had any knowledge of where he was they would probably be sending him money, instruction and advice, and trying to tell him every move to make... so he broke away... and by degrees he grew up and began to see what was really important in life and to find the healing he didnt even realize he needed... the fact that he made mistakes and died as a result does not take away from the movie at all. to me the movie was a true story of the journey we are all on, and the goal is not to die with the most toys or to be a big shot know it all, but to live well and to learn that we all make mistakes and need to learn to forgive and grow and love and to " Call Things by their Right Name" and in this regard i think this young man was a success....more info
- Life, The world and Everything
OK, just gotta say, for all of the stupid futility of his death, Chris still lived MORE than ANY of us. His death was sheer idiocy, but his life, his refusal to accept society on society's terms are brilliantly illustrated in this movie, and REALLLY define his existance, both in the real world and in this adaptation. ...more info
- Failing to Connect
This is a true story. I attended the same university as this young man and the film almost broke my heart. It is definitely worth seeing, but very sad. Emory is full of some very smart and very privileged young men and women. I think this boy confused rejecting consumerism with rejecting people in general. He tries to make his life meaningful by turning his back on his family and materialism. His search for meaning is tragic and very hurtful to his family because they really love him and never know what is happening with him. I believe that the ultimate meaning in our lives can only be found through love and connection. His failure to really connect with self love and love for others is what ultimately killed him. The film is beautiful and worthwhile to watch, but not lightweight or uplifting. Power Path to Love...more info
- One of the best of 2007
I knew nothing of Christopher McCandless or the book of his life or even anything about this movie until I was sitting in the cinema. The only thing I knew is that Sean Penn was directing and having been very impressed with his gut-wrenching, if incredibly downbeat, The Pledge I was pretty much guaranteed to like this film. My guess turned out to be extremely correct.
Alexander Supertramp (that's Emile Hirsch as McCandless folks) is a man with no attachments. Having been raised in a loveless household by parents who only wish for him to 'or-din-ary' things he entertains them as far as graduating college but escapes to the country as soon as the diploma is in his hands.
His dream is to explore the land with no ID, no money and no chance of being found by those who might want to interfere with his mission of reaching peaceful seclusion in a remote corner of Alaska. Along the way he touches many lives, some brief, some profound and gains experience and character that some might never have even if they lived to a hundred.
Sean Penn's photography and affection for nature give this film an overall gorgeous look. It is surely one of the most uniquely composed films of the year. He reminds me a lot of Clint Eastwood as an actor who can also direct fine movies and encourage impressive performances out of his cast. Pretty much everybody here is on top form, even Vince Vaughn manages to shake off the taint of those tawdry 'frat pack' comedies and play a genuine character for once.
But Hal Holbrook as old Ron Franz really is a standout. I've never seen a more heartfelt or touching performance in so long. It's a real shame he was conned out of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. I think it's great that Sean Penn brought Holbrook (now 82) back for such an important and thought-provoking role. If you don't shed a tear for him then you have no soul.
Don't con yourself out of a good movie. It may have a limited release but Into the Wild is a film worth taking time out to see. Since I live in the UK, the story of Christopher McCandless (which appears to be some sort of true urban legend in America) is not well known here. I guess that having no expectations of the film made me enjoy it on the right level. ...more info
- Quiet and touching
Quiet docu-drama about Christopher McCandless, a young kid who is searching for himself and where he belongs in the world. If this was done wrong, it the kid would have seemed like a whinny yuppie who needs a good slap. Instead it's done with tenderness and quiet grace, and you feel empathy and sympathy for him. Also has some nice scenes with the people he meets along his journey. Plus a strong soundtrack from Eddie Vedder that fits the mood of the movie perfectly....more info
- Movie Adaptation that Rivals Krakauer's Novel
In my mind, it is quite rare that a film adapatation of a great book can live up to its predecessor. Sean Penn's adaptation of Jon Krakauer's book of the same name is one of those films that is on par with the book. While I prefer Krakauer's book by a small margin, this was a great film to watch.
Emile Hirsch stars as Chris McCandless, bright Emory University graduate, who gives virtually all his possessions, donates his savings to Oxfam and "drop outs" of society to make his way to Alaska for a journey of self-discovery. Penn's film is filled with superb performances by everyone from Vince Vaughn and Katherine Keener to William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden. However, it is Hirsch in his portrayal of Chris and Hal Holbrooke in a remarkably deep and tender supporting role that really deliver stand out performances.
Both the cinematography and the soundtrack are unbelievable -- providing a stark and open feeling that complement each other. As Chris makes his way from the bustling urban city of Alaska to the remote environs of Alasaka, Penn creates the feel of a both a "road" and "wilderness" story without feeling like this is something we've seen before -- it had a unique and original gestalt to it.
There are two critiques that I have of the movie: (1) Penn's movie makes a stronger statement about the role of McCandless' upbringing that led to his complete abandonment from his family. It certainly was not so explicitly addressed in Krakauer's book and the tension of this relationship provides for a more dramatic movie. (2) When McCandless is in cinder-block city, I felt the whole "romantic" interlude with the young teen singer was gratuitous and detracted from the story for me. I didn't feel we needed that encounter to further dramatize Chris' virtue and "self-control".
While I loved botht the book and this movie, they both leave me with an unsettled feeling. While many dismiss McCandless as naive and foolish, I felt both works led to a more troubled, nuanced sense of this young man. Certainly there was a naivete to him, but he also was a lost soul, struggling to find his way in the world -- seeminly unmoved by the increasingly material world -- and without a real kindred spirit as he searched for his identity and meaning. I was left with a sense of bewilderment that someone would make such a sudden and complete break from those who loved and cared about him -- and the fear and despair that this created with his loved ones. Whether Chris found himself and was truly at peace in the wild, we'll never know. His story, while tragic, certainly led to two amazing works of art. ...more info
- "Happiness Is Only Real When Shared"
"Into the Wild" is based on the true story of Chris McCandless, a college graduate from a posh family who abandoned his privileged existence for a life of hitchhiking, living off the land, and go-with-the-flow spirituality. He sent his life savings to OxFam, scissored his credit cards, and burnt his identification. He's reborn as "Alexander Supertramp;" lone wanderer of the American landscape.
Chris is an intelligent and earnest young man. Sick of modern civilization and its crass materialism, he finds inspiration in the pages of Thoreau, Tolstoy, and Jack London. The holy grail of his quest for spiritual enlightenment is Alaska, a place where he can be alone to "just be out there in it. You know, big mountains, rivers, sky, game. Just be out there in it, you know? In the wild."
Sean Penn's lyrical and intimate directing style owes a debt to Terrence Malick, who directed Penn in "The Thin Red Line." The lush images of sunsets, soaring birds, and falling water seem to reinforce Chris' Romantic vision of man's spiritual relationship to nature -- the movie even opens with a quote from Lord Byron -- and when Chris says, "You don't need human relationships to be happy, God has placed it all around us," you wonder if Penn perhaps endorses this somewhat reductive view of life.
Then something happens in the second half of the film that casts Chris's journey in a new light. In the final chapter of the movie Chris meets Ron Franz (Hal Holbrook), a retired Army man, recovered alcoholic, and devout man-of-faith. They develop a quiet, unassuming friendship based on sympathy and understanding. Ron, having heard of Chris' family troubles, tells him: "When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God's light shines upon you." This chapter of the film is titled: "The Getting of Wisdom."
The tragedy of "Into the Wild" is that Chris refuses the grace offered through the relationship with Ron, whose life of hope and love is the true holy grail of spiritual enlightenment, not Alaska. Ron invites Chris to stay with him as an adopted grandson, but Chris, in his restlessness, feels compelled to continue on his way to the vast emptiness of Alaska.
But Ron's vision of life as forgiveness and love returns to Chris in his loneliness and isolation in the wilderness. In his mind's eye, Chris sees his joyful return to his family, embracing them in the life-giving love made possible by forgiveness. In his mind, he asks them: "What if I were smiling and running into your arms? Would you see then what I see now?"
There he remains, sick and starving in the Alaskan wilderness, "trapped in the wild" as he writes in his journal. His final insight is scribbled into the margins of his tattered copy of Tolstoy: "Happiness is only real when shared."...more info
- into the wild... 3.5 stars...
christopher mc candless was a young man who tried to fit himself into the social system but always felt for something out there that called for him; something outside society and its bounds, deadlines, stress and the quest for buying more plastic made commodities and shiny gadgets.
immersed in his world of music and books where he would find solace, he was a highly sensitive boy with a high intelligence.
reading a lot of litterature without keeping your feet in the real world, creates a universe of idealism in which, the frustrated mind finds refuge. it's like a drug. the more you hide in that ideal world, the more frustrated and bitter you become when faced with the actual world we all live in: seeing his parents consent to live together despite their enormous differences, chris saw them as hypocrites, especially his mom, who, despite being betrayed by her husband, chooses to stay because of the comfort and security she got used to. after all, the husband is a NASA genius and we dont leave such a man because he slept with another woman.
unmaterialistic to the farthest extent, chris was still planning to enter college but his parents deciding to reward him with a brand new car, was the last straw for the kid: he finds out that after all that time, his parents still didnt understand his personality and that he was never attracted by aquiring 'things' and that rewarding him with 'things' showed him how much his bickering parents cling to appearences.
what happens next is chris, submerged in a tide of idealism leavs all behind, on a trek bound for alaska, as far as possible from social bonds, hypocrisy and materialism.
he works in odd jobs, uses money as much as needed for his sustenance, and on his way, leaves a positive mark on the people he meets; a spirit who wills not to be ensnared by the ephemereal and tricky temptations of the modern world.
while discovering the savage beauty of the nature around him, our hero will ultimately discover that happiness only has meaning when it's shared.. and since the whole world has become neck deep into dependance on modernity, his odds to meet a likeminded soul were equal to finding a winning lottery ticket on the ground. this meant he had to reintegrate society. his stubbornness to stay alone will lead him to his own demise: with little experience in the ways of survival, chris will be found dead by poisoning from inedible berries he ate by mistake.
some people will be glad this kid who caused his family much suffering, met his just end, but the story is not about that;
it's true that the character is too idealistic and ridden with flaws. he didnt seem to make efforts to help his parents have a better relationship, for example. he was too arrogant in the way that whenever he saw a glimpse of conformity and hypocrisy, he steered away without trying to do anything about it despite his obviously high intellignece and insight. he helped a foreign hippie couple overcome its differences while he could have done the same for his parents, but didnt.
for all the flaws in chris' character, i dont see him as an example to follow, hence the rating of 3 over 5.
the movie's strong point is reminding us that while we spend our life compromising, stressing out and tense about mortgages, due dates, deadlines and conformity, there's a beautiful world around us that we're failing to see. there's a peace we're missing, and a sense of eternity that's lost to us in our world ruled by intertwined timelines and purchase coupons.
finally, eddie vedder and friends do a wonderful job with the soundtrack. the movie sports some truly amazing music.
overall, this movie gently wakes us up to look around us and to notice the spirit , without alienating its audience with dumbed down philosophy and haughty lecturing. this is just a frustrated youth with some valid points that are worth exploring....more info
- What I love about Into the Wild...
...is, above all else, its HONESTY. It avoids all traps of smarmy sentiment, favoring instead an honest explication of the life of a young man with much childhood baggage who set out as honestly as possible and with the highest integrity to understand and deal with this baggage. All the while, the film lets nature be its own force and shows that human decisions - both good and bad - have consequences. "Fate" and divine intervention are scrupulously, blissfully absent in this film.
To me there is nothing whatsoever tragic about McCandless' life. To the contrary, he had a full, rich life of his own choosing. He knew what he wanted and pursued it. The fact that a suburban kid ill-prepared for wilderness living made stupid mistakes despite his best efforts to prepare in no way diminishes his accomplishments or makes his life a tragedy. We are made out of meat; whatever happens to meat happens to us. C'est la vie, literally. The lifespan of any us is an absurdly brief flashbulb pop whether that life be 20 years or 80. A human lifetime is like the universe itself; no matter how "big" or "small," it is always all there is; self-contained. Every lifetime is complete, whatever its circumstances or duration. And especially, IMHO, when a life has been as full, rich, honest and INTENTIONAL as that of Christopher McCandless. What an inspirational life and what a GROWN UP, thoughtful movie. Maximum kudos to Christopher McCandless and to brilliant Sean Penn....more info
- Great movie, even better seller.
This is a fantastic movie (book of course is better). It was brand new, in excellent condition, and came in on time! Great seller....more info
- Lonely Traveler
Based on a true story from the writings of a young man who goes on a summer trip out west but does not return home, call or write to his family and basically drops out. The film opens in the remote alaska wilderness where he is living off the land, but shown in flashbacks is his adverturess journey through the west for two years of getting to that point. What makes the film work is the interesting people that he meets along the way and they are ones you will not soon forget. Beautifully photographed and directed, this personal drama is thoroughly enjoyable and a worthy purchase. ...more info
- Theories and conjecture
I'm not going to theorize about why CM did what he did. I have no idea. I'm not privy to his mind and thus I have no way of knowing why he chose to do what he did. However, I will say this, I cannot, under any circumstances, fathom having the guts to walk into the wild and make a go of it. I can imagine it all day long but I doubt I could actually do it.
The movie is intense and amazing. It tells a wonderfully tragic story.
I'm incredibly tired of reading reviews of people bashing this man for his "ignorance". Of course he was. We all are. But what makes him unique is that he tried. He took a gamble and it didn't pay off as most people would hope. He still tried. So to all of the wonderful experts on survivalism and backcountry living.... take note... The Man was searching for something. We'll never know if he found it. Ultimately, something found him. Call it a wasted life but it wasn't your's to waste. It was his.
That being said... it is a very good Movie. Regardless of the assumed reasons for any of it.
Try to watch it....more info
- Into the Wild
The first time I saw this movie, I was speechless, the 2nd time I saw this movie I was speechless.
Just watch it, it is the most amazing journey and the outcome, the result of Alexander Supertramp is ... I am not gonna spoil it for you.
Best movie of the year!!!...more info
- When you do not fit in
A well written if controversial book. How you feel about Chris in the end reveals a lot about who you are as a person.
There are people that just do not fit in and Chris was one of them. Parhaps it is a survival strategy in some people that when they get to a point they felt crowded, ( an indicator of dwindling resources you could suppose ), some internal 'switch' is flipped that has them go off and seek more fertile lands. If it were not for this trait no one would have come to this country and expanded Westward. sadly there is no where left to go any more. Chris wasnt ill, he was just born in the wrong century.
- into the wild and into the heart
As of this writing, 129 five star reviews have been given for this movie on Amazon's site. Take all the other reviews, four stars down to one star, and they equal the tally for five star ratings. This alone depicts the power of this quiet movie, which has moved so many who have watched it. Unfolding in bits and pieces, this movie is a journey not just across the land and seasons, but a journey of the heart, a seeking of something to heal the soul of wounds left behind, a coming of age in spirit, far more than in body. Wide open spaces, rich in characters, & chilling in the need to survive, this movie strikes deeply in the heart of so many people longing for something more in their lives.
Oh, yes, my 5 star rating now makes it 130!...more info
- A Great True Story
I purchased the book as well as the movie from Amazon. I read the book first then shared it with my best friend, my daughter. She and her husband watched the movie first while I read the book. We all loved the movie and the book. It's sad, but very true. It gives the reader and watcher something to ponder about. We all decided that this is a definate must have for libraries of both book and video. I am so happy that I purchased both. I will watch it and read it again....more info
- above average
Overall the DVD was in great condition, and was shipped in good time. The only thing I wasnt really a fan of is the library stickers all over the case and one one the DVD. Other than that, thank you....more info
- Moving and Inspiring
Just finished watching this film for the 2nd time. Cried like a baby both times. Between the direction, and Hirsch's, Keener's, Vaughn's (whom I usually can't stand) and (in my opinion) most notably Holbrook's performances, this has become one of my favorite films of the year. I know Holbrook's part was small, but he was amazing, and I really feel that he should have won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Anyway, the scene with him and Hirsch in Ron's jeep is heartbreaking. When he asks Alex to let him adopt him, then realizing that he will never see Alex again, very sad. Kudos to Penn for his direction and screenplay....more info
If you watch the first 5 or so minutes, you might expect this movie to be lame, but it most certainly is not. Inspired by an amazing true story, it's a very powerful film about a guy you really want to learn about. Fine writing, fine acting, and amazing scenery. I'm impressed....more info