Into the Wild tells the true story of Christopher McCandless, who left behind his savings, family, and identity and voyaged to Alaska as Alexander Supertramp to find spiritual connection and true meaning in life.
This is the movie that first taught me how beautiful film can be. I first saw it junior year of high school and I was captivated. To preface this, I am a sucker for road trip movies and books. My favorite author is Jack Kerouac and this could be seen as tragic rendition for a millennial On The Road with more introspection and less jazz, women, and drugs. Still, it shows that 30 years later a trip composed of mostly hitchhiking, camping, and railroad riding while being near penniless is possible. It is a far less glamorous trip than Kerouac’s but still maintains the sense of adventure through the unseen gems of the America wilderness.
Emile Hirsch shines in the role of Christopher, and often has to command scenes where he is completely alone. He has to convey the emotional end of the film and he does so tragically and brilliantly. He adds an air of reliability to a character that is mostly doing irrational things. He has completely invested in the complete abandonment of society as a whole, and he doesn’t half ass it. He has a goal and he follows it, even when some of his actions would come across as illogical. You kind of honor the dedication. Still, you also sympathize with the parents who literally think their kid is dead or missing while he embarks on his tryst in nature. Even though his parents are kind of the worst, you still sympathize with them a little, especially when they address the issue later on in the film with the hippie couple and their son.
The best part of this movie is the scenery. The shots in the wilderness of Alaska are stunningly beautiful and highlight the lesser-explored American wild. The parts where he is completely isolated in the wilderness are the best parts, as it explores the human condition when faced with the perils of the survivalist lifestyle and complete isolation from society.
The only thing that I hate is the continuity of how its shot, with endless flashbacks highlighting the various people that he met and affected through his travels. The editing is often weird, and halfway through the timeline gets confusing. It could have been shot chronologically and have been fine with maybe only flashbacks to his home life, but hey, I’m not Sean Penn.
The other thing that can sometimes get annoying is the heaping load of narration. There is just so much voice over narration. Then there are some scenes that are random and disjointed from time to time, which for an over two hour movie, could have easily been cut. Still, besides these small issues it is still a beautiful film.
We all understand what it’s like to finish college and feel unfulfilled, or dread that day we toss our caps and must face the adult world. Many of both McCandless and my literary heroes embraced nature in pursuit of truthful and honest expression. Many of us today don’t have the same spirit for adventure or the dedication it would take to completely leave normative society behind. McCandless’ story is a cautionary tale and may not be the best example of this lifestyle, but his attempt is honorable. Sean Penn does a good job at retelling the story of a young man who followed his dreams until the very end, never wavering in his dedication in pursuit of truth.
Amy’s Recommendation: 9/10