I came to this movie on the back of a diary entry by one of my Chinese students - and was as such, happily oblivious to the "hype" that apparently surrounds it. I notice its detractors are as careful in their complete deconstruction of the film, from its actors and soundtrack to its existentialism and moralising, as those who love it are genuinely moved.
As for me, I liked this movie precisely because it shows the flaws and the cracks in a beautiful theory. The Alaskan wilderness proves the fatal downfall of our hero, even as it provides him with the answers. He gives all his money to charity, burns the rest and then has to go and find a job.
Nature is beautiful and terrifying. So is society. You might get killed on the street outside your house, having never lived, and that's the most scary thing of all. McCandless went out there to ask questions of himself and to find out what really matters in this life - he may have lived more in those few years than most people do in a lifetime - and he was foolish, young and pretentious. So what! This is the stuff of life!
I thought the acting was solid and believable, with Hal Holbrook shining as the old man looking to fill the gap in his life by adopting McCandless. Eddie Vedder's soundtrack is perfectly haunting, particularly "Long Nights".
Philosophers, travellers, aspiring vagabonders and anyone who's ever asked themselves who they are, and what they are doing in this life, will like this movie, because it tells the tale of one young guy doing precisely that.
on 9 April 2010
With Into the Wild, Sean Penn; whom takes both screenwriter and director credit, sets about telling the story of estranged student, Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch). The film, based on the non fiction book of the same name by Jon Krakauer, follows Chris after his graduation as he goes about removing all materialistic elements of his life and also leaves his home and family behind. Chris renames himself `Alexander Supertramp' and journeys, as the title so obviously suggests, into the wild.
We are told the story by McCandless' sister, played by Jena Malone (of Donnie Darko fame). This offers an outside insight into our ascetic travellers reasoning, ensuring that we can not resent him for his potentially reckless decision.
This film is a true journey, brought to life superbly by Hirsch's portrayal of McCandless as well as the various other supporting roles that open up a world full of intriguing characters with a lust for adventure and experience.
Of course, what coming of age film would be without a love interest? Into the Wild is no exception. However, as our `Supertramp' befriends the undeniably appealing free spirited Tracy Tatro (or should I say Twighlight's `Bella Swan'?) we realise that even love can't tear him away from his adventurous escape.
If nothing else grabs you about this film, the cinematography, courtesy of Eric Gautier, surely will. We are bombarded with landscape after landscape, from sun kissed beaches to snow frosted mountains, that are photographed in a way that have to be seen to be believed. You may argue that any one could make these places look amazing, in that case I'd challenge you to do the same.
Into the Wild is a film filled with adventure, awe inspiring scenery and most of all; emotion. All backed up by an incredible soundtrack. Penn has done himself proud here and (if he wasn't already) he must be taken seriously as somebody that can work just as well behind the camera as in front. He cant take full credit though as the film is undoubtedly thrust higher by its characters, its story and of course one of the real stars, its scenery.
on 17 March 2008
I have to say at first I came to this film through Eddie Vedder (big Pearl Jam fan), and I'm very happy I did.
I just watched the movie on DVD, and I have read all the other reviews here, which are much better than mine as far as going into details about the film, great camera work, the history behind the story, Sean Penn's ultimate vision and so on. So I'll just convey what this film did to my emotions, while the bruises to my senses are still raw.
I was expecting to have a tough time watching this. Like most people who watched it, I knew the outcome, and felt I was prepared... I wasn't.
I really liked this kid, and I felt in a way, what he felt as he went along exploring, whatever it is he felt he had to explore. In getting me along for the ride, this movie works on every level. And the way it brings us back to that buss, little by little, while telling the story leading up to it, jerks you in and out of danger so to speak, so when the final breath is exhaled, you, or atleast I, felt like I was right there, helpess and unable to stop this from happening. And that's the crux of the whole thing to me, now, 12-15 minutes after the end credits. And when a movie does that to you... It's a work of pure art.
As for all the rest. I loved this actor, I loved the others, the hippie couple, the young girl, the old man, Vince Vaughn, the danish couple (I'm half danish, so thanks Sean, for having real danish people speak real danish in your movie!) and the sisters narrating.
And on top of it all, there's Eddie Vedder, and it's just so good!
Thank you for leaving my feelings raw like an exposed nerve. Feels good to be alive.
on 24 February 2012
This is a brilliant film with an inspiring true story, probably one of the best films I've ever seen. I fail to understand some of the most negative comments posted about it.
I saw a few complain about the scene where Chris rejects the offer of a new car from his parents, as if he did a bad thing by questioning his parents about it. I suppose maybe they thought he was just ungrateful. Chris was happy with his old beaten-up car, it worked fine and got him around, so there was no reason for his parents to waste money buying him a new one - simple as that. Why spend all that money on something he didn't need? Perhaps some people understand that concept, but disliked the scene because they thought he overreacted and seemed harsh in what he said; but Chris had spent his life in this wealthy family, and his reaction showed how tired he had grown of wasteful, materialistic thinking - hence resenting his parents and venturing off into the wild, rejecting that over-indulgent way of life, and instead focussing only on necessity and the bare minimum.
So, given Chris' dislike of greed and excess, another thing I can't get my head around is why people posting negative comments call him a 'spoiled brat' and 'selfish' and such. He was tired of being spoiled (hence rejecting the new car) and tired of the kind of selfish thinking he had grown up around. If anything he felt the same way about being spoiled and selfish as the people accusing him of it in their comments; although I will accept that running off without saying anything, leaving his family worried about him was a selfish thing... but he had his reasons for that too, and even his sister, a victim of that selfish act, accepted his reasons and agreed that what he was saying in doing what he did "had to be said". The message in leaving his family was plain and simple: he didn't want a charmed life as a 'spoiled brat', and didn't need his parents wastefully throwing money at him, pushing him through education so he could gain a place he didn't want in a money-driven, materialistic society. Not to mention the other reason he had to resent his parents, being born to a cheating father and a mother who was willing to be his dirty secret on the side - both wrong and selfish acts, which must have made him hate selfish behaviour even more, feel a lot of complicated emotions about being his father's second choice, an accident, and their family being a lie that should never have happened. It's no wonder he didn't feel emotionally attached enough to them to stick around.
I also don't understand people who say they can't relate to Chris, when you consider the basic essence of his character - a person questioning his life, and making his own decisions accordingly. It's his free spirit that I think makes him inspiring. Surely most people can relate to that? It seems unrealistic to think that anyone would grow up and accept the life they have without questioning it and considering the possibilities outside it - not questioning what people tell them to do or be, like some kind of zombie. It's human nature to have at least a slightly rebellious, questioning side. Obviously Chris was an extreme case and few people would take such drastic action as he did, but for me, what that takes away in terms of being able to empathise with him, it makes up for in making him someone to feel sympathetic towards; he was obviously driven to such extreme measures by his parents pushing him so hard in one direction, that he turned around and pushed so hard the opposite way. Subsequently, I don't think he was stupid or had a death wish, I think he ended up in the harsh situation he found in Alaska because he was so driven to be the opposite of his parents - to live without comforts, in a rough environment, as far as possible from the pampered lifestyle he had known, and which he felt was so unjustifiable and sickening. He wanted to prove how unnecessary it was to live like his parents did by recklessly pushing himself to the limit at the opposite end of the scale; he was just overambitious and overconfident about it, not suicidal or simply stupid. He chose to make it difficult for himself, but misjudged the mark when it came to where the bare minimum was - like a kind of Icarus character who flew too close to the sun.
on 17 March 2008
I think how much you enjoy this film will depend upon two things; 1) Whether or not you have read the book and are familiar with the story of Chris McCandless, and 2) What you're looking to get out of this film. I had read the book and been keen to find out as much as possible about Chris, and so when I watched this film I viewed it as a chance to get a more visual version of his life. I think for this reason I didn't enjoy it quite as much because of the various inconsistencies between this and the real story, and also I didn't really enjoy the way it was told through flashbacks. I think it would have been better told in a more traditional way.
However, if you approach this as I will upon next viewing as simply a FILM and forget the real-life events, you will probably enjoy it a lot. Each and every actor and actress plays their roles superbly and the story is engrossing. My only gripe besides the way the events are laid out (which I think comes purely from knowing them beforehand) is that there are occasional moments when the camera work is a bit distracting. Such as, in some of the quiet scenes leading up to his death, there are moments when the camera wobbles and zooms. No doubt the intention of this shots was to convey his disorientation, but I found them a little too distracting.
Despite these points it's still a great film and well worth a copy in your DVD collection. I was personally surprised that it didn't include any full documentaries on the real McCandless as an extra, though.
Why do people like Christopher McCandless have to embark on an aesthetic voyage to tell us what we should already know that the pursuit of money possessions and status are actually meaningless concepts forced on us by human society. If we really want to discover what we're here for we can learn a lot from this true film that is both poignant and soul - searching. Abstract concepts that we all adhere to , about how we should think and behave , are blow apart in this excellent film and if we realise just a little bit about what motivated Christopher to give it all up and search for his soul we'll be better people. Beauty is all around us you just have to have the ability and clarity to perceive it mind you most of us are so blinded by what society demands of us that we can't see it. The truth is out there you just need to be able to feel it.
on 30 December 2008
I don't understand how anyone can criticize this movie..
Emile Hirsch is excellent in the lead role and he portrays a convincing Christopher McCandless. The story itself is beautiful.. and I have identified with it and the character deeply and completely.
I have cried several times simply because I was so moved, not necessarily because something sad or bad happened. The movie has also provided me with several tips for books or writers worth reading and I have re-discovered Leo Tolstoy and his late "philosophical" works after watching "Into the Wild".
The music by Eddie Vedder is great, but the first song "Long Nights" became one of my all time favorite songs.
All in all a truly unique and unforgettable experience - highly recommended!
on 7 August 2008
Wow!!....This film is truly a hidden gem.
I had no expectations when I bought this film and didn't know the story, but by the end of the film I looked at life a little differently.
The images on screen along with the soundtrack works to take you into this lads life, the way he looks at things around him is a eye opener. So many people go though life looking but not seeing what's around them.
The film will effect you; and at the end it haunted me for a couple of days after and to a point still does. Buy or borrow this film it is a must see film. Not a bockbuster but a film that will touch your soul.
on 4 November 2010
This films tells a story which actually happened not very long ago, in the early 1990's. It is the story of a young man who rejects his aspirational-bourgeois family in the East of the USA and goes off on a personal odyssey to reclaim his soul. He abandons his idea of going to Harvard Law School (having already graduated from his first or as the Americans oddly say "undergraduate degree"), gives away most of his money and sets off on the road. His literary inspirations include Tolstoy, Thoreau, Jack London and, at the end, Pasternak.
The film is quirky and not totally linear, rather like Life itself, one could say. There are cul-de-sac travellings as well as straightforward ones.
The film is also very sad as it proceeds, though (again a Tolstoyan influence perhaps, in the mannner of the short story Master and Man) with a silver or gold lining at the very end.
Recommended, on the whole.
Whenever a young person dies their family always tell us that they were beautiful, intelligent and incredibly popular, almost as if the loss of a life in itself is not quite tragic enough. Sean Penn's film concerns an idealistic, screwed up graduate (Christopher McCandless AKA Alex Supertramp) who shuns a potentially successful but bland life for something more...real. "Into The Wild" is a distant relation of the mother of all road movies "Easyrider" and covers many of the same bases, however this is a true story and says something important about modern life and the measures of success within it. This was made with the help of McCandless' family and, perhaps, as a result our hero is an attractive, intelligent guy who proves to also be incredibly popular. Hell, he's practically Jesus - a comment actually made by one or two of the characters. With that in mind the conclusion was never in doubt.