What’s it about?
Based on a true story set in the 1990s, it follows the adventure of Christopher McCandless who leads a very middle class life style having just graduated from Emory University. Instead of opting for a very promising career, he decides to donate all of his savings to a charity and get rid of all of this material possessions. Without telling anyone, he embarks on a journey to the Alaskan wilderness alone. The film follows him on his travels and who he meets along the way. It is inspirational, thought-provoking, and one to watch.
Cast : Emile Hirsch, Kirsten Stewart, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener (that’s just a few!)
Director : Sean Penn
Writer : Sean Penn
Based on the Jon Krakauer’s 1996 non-fiction book ‘Into the Wild‘ which was based on Christopher McCandless’ adeventures.
See the trailer here
Is it on Netflix? : Yes!
From here on there will be spoilers as I explore the meanings of the film and what I personally liked/disliked about it. But I advise that if you haven’t already seen it, see it before you read this because the ending is just *mic drop* seriously. And then come back 😉
Okay! Moving on!
What I thought…
Originally when I first saw this film, it had a pretty big impact on me as that night I went and deactivated my Facebook account, and didn’t reactivate it until 4 months later. To me that shows how powerful this film can be. It’s a very artsy film the way that it is shot and the soundtrack that accompanies it, also if you can’t stand poetry then you might not have enjoyed this film as it is littered with poetry however if you like poetry or can at least appreciate it like me then you will have enjoyed it a little more. I’m not entirely sure where to start with this film, so I’ll start at the beginning.
Into the wild starts with a quote, with the last line being ‘I love man not the less, but nature more.’ (its a poem by Lord Bryon) however the last quote Christopher writes at the end of the film is ‘Happiness is only real when shared’ which is contradicting and shows how his focus and thoughts change over time, I think that sums up this film, as the audience journey with Christopher/Alex as he learns what life is about and enlightens us with his many nuggets of wisdom.
There were a few major themes that ran through this film such as; his resentment towards materialistic attitudes such as when his parents want to buy him a car and he is upset with this and says why would he need another car, and he makes a big issue you out of it, and how he burns and donates his money, he gives back his money after he earns it because he says that his days were more exciting when he was penniless. This aspect of the film kind of angered me, because for some he may just seem really spoilt and I understand where he’s coming from with the idea that he doesn’t need material items in order to be happy, but at the same time his parents were trying to be kind and reward him with something, remember the saying ‘It was the thought that counts’ ? But then it can be argued that his parents were doing it for their own self interest. Either way he just seemed to be making a scene and I thought he was being a little ungrateful, and the fact that he found it more exciting to be penniless annoyed me as he then relied on others to give him a lift, or when he went to stay the night at a homeless shelter, it’s like if you have the opportunity to have a little money in your pocket do, don’t rely on others to help you get to your Northern Adventure.
Another theme was his resentment towards his parents who subjected him to domestic violence and lied to him throughout his childhood, this is notable throughout the film like the fact that he never tells them where he is, or when he meets Ron Franz (the old man) he says that he doesn’t have a family. I do understand this theme, I think he had a right to go off and do what he wanted because his parents put him through a lot as a child, and I get that his parents stood for everything he disliked about the world a.k.a material obsession. However I do think he should have sent like a postcard or something to his parents or his sister to tell them that he was alive and what he was doing (not in detail) but just to let them know he was happy. Because no matter how bad a parent is they still love you in some way and will worry, and nobody deserves to worry about a loved one for 2 years. I guess I’m just a family orientated person, I think he realizes this though when Jan (Catherine Keener) asks if his family know where he is and he doesn’t reply but has a tear in his eye.
And the last theme I spotted was the idea of being self sufficient which springs from the conversation he has with Wayne (Vince Vaughn) when he says that he wants to be in the Alaskan Wild, and Wayne asks what he’s doing there, and he says he’ll just be living, taking it all in. He just wants to live and live by being sufficient on the land and himself. I don’t particularly get this but I respect it because that’s what he wants to do and he has a vibrant life because of it.
It sounds from what I just wrote that I don’t like the film… I did like it I think I just have a different mind set to Christopher/Alex. However I did like how he was living his life the way he wanted to, I loved how he met people along the way and made life-long friends like Jan and Rainey. And I loved the character Ron as he is adorable that he wants to adopt Christopher, and he wanted the company, my favourite quote from him was ‘When you forgive you love. And when you love, Gods love shines on you’ because it makes Christopher reflect a little on the real reason why he was living like he was. I thought the way that Christopher just left Ron was a little sad, I really wanted that to work…
But my favourite part was the ending because I just completely didn’t expect it. I thought he would have his Alaskan adventure and then come home and either confront his parents or live another life. I didn’t expect him to die but I think, although it is extremely sad, it was just so fitting as he died after doing what he always wanted to do, and that he imagined being welcomed back into his parents life and forgiving them. It was so painful to watch though because you know he knew he was going to die as he says ‘I am trapped in the wilderness’ in his writing,and the fact that he essentially starved to death was just awful to watch and quite shocking.
I have so many notes on this film and if I wrote about all of them I would bore you all to death so I won’t. But my final note is this; he forgave in the end and that’s what the true message of this film is about, in my eyes.
This is such a good film to see if you want to think about deep questions. Yes it can be a little long but the questions you think about afterwards are interesting and it really makes you think.I’m giving it a 3/5 just because at times I was annoyed with his attitude but I liked the end messages. And I think it was very well crafted, and all of the themes and points within a scene are threaded throughout the film. Thank you for putting up with my rambling if you did, please comment if you have any opposing views or just thoughts in general. Bye!