Into the Wild (2007) (Biography, Adventure, Drama, 2007) (15) D: Sean Penn W: Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer P: Sean Penn C: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart, Hal Holbrook. 2h 28m. USA.
Synopsis : After graduating from Emory University, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gives his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. Along the way, Christopher encounters a series of characters that shape his life.
TAGLINE : Into the heart Into the soul
Sean Penns 6th film comes in the form of a nonlinear biographical road trip detailing the inspirational and curious life of Christopher McCandless played by the young multitalented Emile Hirsch. Boasting a bittersweet and soulful and soundtrack from Eddie Vedder and detailing the literary works of Jon Krakauer. Penn manages to draw together the details from the book to form an almost romantic optimistic view on this quite scary mystery filtered through an ever changing landscape.
Starting off near the end and skipping forwards and backwards throughout the timeline is always a little confusing but for this story where no one fully really knows what happened or why, it doesn’t hinder how the storytelling at all, it does mimic the way that the story was revealed in real time. Christopher (Emile Hirsch) is shown through various stages of this life, but is constant in his need to live his life on the hippy trail, without money or fancy cars, his strong sense of life and living outside of what we accept as the norm.
Abandoning his (oppressive) parents, keeping in touch with his sister through letters and hitting the road Christopher spends the film living off the land and picking up jobs and survival information for his Alaskan dream. Constantly avoiding convention he works in burger places, learns how to crop and enriches the lives of everyone he meets while keeping his distance from personal relationships he learns how to work leather while reminding the aged Hal (Ron Franz) that there is life is outside the workshop and shouldn’t be put off doing something new until another day, instantly recognising problems between Rainy (Brian Dierker) and Jan (Catherine Keener) his love and understanding bonds him with the couple throughout the film and they almost adopt him. Vince Vaughn manages to inspire him and teaches him how to work the fields before his arrest.
He questions everything, in one great scene he just wants to canoe along a river, but there is way too much red tape, waiting lists, instructions and laws which to Christopher and anyone who thinks about it, it’s just pointless, so he goes alone, lawless and courageous.
Switching between the stark contrasts of hot happy scenes in the desert with friends and laughter and the sorrows of the snowy lonesome Alaskan wilderness the film is almost split between the two parallels all surrounding the man and his environment.
The beautiful road trip turns into an isolated nightmare. As Christopher collects his worldly possessions, some money and a few books, he heads into the frosty wild. The movie starts to change pace and mood as it details a desperate challenge of survival. Even though scenes of this have been seen throughout the movie in the latter half it really focuses in on his desperate plight. The connection he had with nature soon unravels and everything changes, depression, starvation and his grasp on his personal ideology start to fall away.
The film comes across as being honest, in relation to it offering no answers just a recount of known facts. It does romanticise along the way, capturing little golden moments. There is some interesting effects using two different scenes cut on the screen which give an impression of what’s going on around Chris and what he’s concentrating on. Ultimately everything rotates near the end and as Christopher loses his grip with the natural world he does make a very poignant realisation about love and a very detailed case study of a very distinctive individual.
V : I tracked this movie down after seeing a photo of Christopher McCandless in one of those “haunting last photos” videos on YouTube, when I found out a tiny bit of information about Chris’s journey into the wild and tracked down the movie and book. No one knows the full story and I like that this movie doesn’t try to give any answers why any of this happened and just documents the life of a very unusual character, it doesn’t try to sensationalise anything. It is a slightly frustrating movie in that it really focuses in on him getting to Alaska more than him being there, with me being a morbid girl, I must say that I am more interested in the Alaska chapter more. On the whole it’s still a cinematic dream and gorgeous movie filled with great characters and an unforgettable story. Hopefully it will open a few eyes to the fact that life can exist outside the norm and it’s free to be a good human being, hopefully it won’t put anyone off going it alone. It’s a great homage to Christopher.
R: Hunger (2009), This must be the place (2011), Nebraska (2013)
T : Based on a True Story. Father details on the demise of Christopher here from the new yorker http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/how-chris-mccandless-died
Q : “When you want something in life, you just gotta reach out and grab it.”
OST: Unique Eddie Vedder OST throughout.
TIL : I must admit that i learnt a lot from the movie but there is a lot more in the book (as always).
BS : I really enjoyed the scene when Chris returned to Rainy and Jan, it gave off some really good vibes of friendship. Chris has only known the couple for a short while but they had bonded together in such a solid way it was like meeting up with your oldest bestest friend and was utterly charming.
DGI : NONE
5B : William Hurt, Sean Penn,
L: Based on a real story (and kept it real).
PD : Coming Soon