Into The Wild

Into The Wild is a 2007 biographical movie directed by Sean Penn and starring Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn & Hal Holbrook. The movie is about the true story of Christopher McCandless. The film premiered during the 2007 Rome Film Fest and later opened outside of Fairbanks, Alaska on September 21, 2007. It was later nominated for two Golden Globes and won the award for Best Original Song Guaranteed by Eddie Vedder. It was also nominated for two Academy Awards including Holbrook for Best Supporting Actor.

Chris decides to leave home after graduating from college with honours in 1990. He and his sister Carine grew up in an household where their parents fought a lot. Shortly afterwards, McCandless rejects his conventional life by destroying all of his¬†credit cards¬†and identification documents. He donates nearly all of his entire savings of $24,000 to Oxfam¬†and sets out on a cross-country drive in his well-used, but reliable Datsun to experience life in the wilderness. Neither his parents nor his sister have any idea as to where he has set off too. He loses his car in a flash flood and sets off hitchhiking. He burns what remains of his dwindling cash supply and assumes a new name: “Alexander Supertramp.” Soon he meets up with hippie couple Jan & Rainey who give him a lift in their trailer. He strikes up a friendship with the older couple and helps Rainey to rekindle his relationship with Jan.

After he leave them he ends up in a South Dakota and works for a a contract harvesting company owned by Wayne Westerberg who helps him a lot. Chris has to leave when Wayne is arrested for piracy and heads out to the Colorado river and kayaks it without a license. He meets and makes friends with a Danish couple who feed him hot dogs and then goes to Mexico via the river. There he loses his kayak and heads back on foot to the US. He starts traveling on freight trains to¬†Los Angeles. Not long after arriving, however, he starts feeling “corrupted” by modern civilization and decides to leave. Later, McCandless is forced to switch his traveling method back to hitchhiking after he is beaten by the¬†railroad police. By December 1991 he catches up with Jan & Rainey in Slab City, California and spends the holiday season with them. He sparks some interest in teenage singer Tracy but rejects her on knowing that she is only 16. He then leaves to Salton City and while camping meets Ron Franz, a retired older man who takes him in. Ron tells him about losing his wife & son in an accident, caused by a drunk driver, while he was serving in the army. He now spends his time in a workshop as an amateur leather worker. Franz teaches McCandless the craft of leatherwork, resulting in the making of a belt that details McCandless’ travels.

After a few months there Chris decides to leave for Alaska with all the money he needs for equipment to survive out in the wilderness. Franz is upset having become close to Chris and asks o adopt him as his grandchild, but McCandless simply tells him that they should discuss this after he returns from Alaska; then departs. In the Alaskan wilderness, Chris finds an abandoned old bus where he sets up his new home At first, McCandless is content with the isolation, the beauty of nature around him, and the thrill of living off the land. He hunts wild animals with a .22 caliber rifle, reads books, and keeps a diary of his thoughts as he prepares for himself a new life in the wild. However as a couple of months pass life becomes difficult as his supplies begin to run out, he realizes that nature is also harsh and uncaring. He realizes that true happiness can only be achieved when shared with others and longs to return to his family. However, he finds that the stream he had crossed during the winter has become wide, deep, and violent due to the thaw, and he is unable to cross.

Now trapped he is forced to gather berries and plants to survive but¬† is poisoned by eating a shrub and loses even more weight as he lies helpless on the bus floor. There is a scene in which an emancipated & stunned Chris stands in the snow and a grizzly bear passes by after briefly considering his form. Slowly dying, he continues to document his process of self-realization and accepts his fate, as he imagines his family for one last time. He writes a farewell to the world and crawls into his¬†sleeping bag¬†to die. Two weeks later, his body is found by moose hunters. Shortly afterwards, Carine returns her brother’s ashes by airplane from Alaska to Virginia in her backpack. The movie ends with a the last known photo of the real life Chris McCandless from a undeveloped roll of film found in his bus.

Amazingly bitter-sweet film and shot so beautifully. I give it a 9 out of 10!

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