on December 23, 2007
Penn does a lovingly beautiful job in retelling Chris' story. The research by both author and film maker must have been difficult. Superb casting. But don't misunderstand our 'hero'. Hubris has spoiled many. Chris was certainly an angry, self-centered fellow, and hurt, but what good did his journey do? (Perhaps as another reminder for us.) It is only when he is facing death that his vision is clear. Is this what Tolstoy and other writers who Chris admired meant? He was a rebel, but what was his cause? Still, we certainly feel for him, and those lives he touched.
When Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch) graduated from college, he had one goal in life - to finally break away from his unhappy family and the constraints of society in general and live off the land in Alaska. The episodic film flashes back and forth between Chris' adventures in Alaska and the months leading up to it, focusing on the people who befriended him - including an aging hippie couple and a lonely, old man (well-played by the venerable Hal Holbrook).
Based on a true story and narrated with many of Chris' journal entries, the film is an emotional roller coaster; I was torn between admiring his youthful idealism and courage and hating him for the pain he inflicted on his family. The movie feels much like a documentary as it follows Chris hitchhiking and working his way across the country and then surviving, at first, quite well in Alaska.
Emile Hirsch is well-cast as Chris and makes you care about him right from the start. He did all of his demanding stunts himself and even lost 40 pounds to play the ailing Chris. It is a very touching story. Amid the splendor of the wilderness but ultimately alone, Chris finally understood that happiness is only real when it is shared. Highly recommended.
on October 25, 2012
Into the Wild follows the true-life story of Christopher McCandless, a bright young recent college graduate, who chooses to embark on a journey of self-discovery that ended in the wilds of Alaska. He removes himself from his family and society for a two-year trek across the country, meeting and touching the lives of many along the way.
The film is a powerful and unforgettable character study and often inspires serious debate on the actions of the main character. The courage and conviction he shows is countered with the selfishness of the pain that his actions no doubt caused his parents and sister by disappearing without a trace. But on this journey of self-discovery he learns more about life, himself and the world.
Emile Hirsch’s portrayal (and physical likeness) of Christopher McCandless is astounding. He embraces both the good and bad of the character as well as his wide-eyed innocence and rock-solid convictions. No easy feat to be sure. The soundtrack to the film is simply amazing and the original songs by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder serve as a heart-wrenching narrative to the plight of McCandless and of the vastness of nature in all of its danger and glory.
Into the Wild offers great video & audio quality with some strong detail and a natural color scheme. Special features include two featurettes (totaling about 40 min) and a theatrical trailer.
With breathtaking scenery, strong attention to detail, fine acting and a beautifully haunting soundtrack, Into the Wild comes recommended. It’s not always an easy journey, but one worth taking.
This recently-released film is based on the true story of Chris McCandless, as described in Jon Krakauer's original story, "Into the Wild". In this film version, the audience is treated to the haunting tale of a young college graduate who, for a variety of personal reasons, decides to breakout from his mundane existence and start life over again. The issues and demons that beseige a rather emotionally-fragile Chris are not ordinary: an unhappy family environment, a domineering father and a petulant mother, and the realization that he and his sisters are really only bastards after all. The film follows the course of Chris's escape into the Alaskan wilderness over a three-year period, as he abandons a career, a need for money, and any association with his old life. His journey is a troubled one because it is based on the dangerous assumption that all one has to do to start over again is to live alone in nature. All the way along the road to the top of the of world, this passion for living in the pristine wilderness by himself drives him to drop friends as quickly as he makes them. Naively, he thinks that all he has to do to enjoy a new lease on life, disencumbered of any worldly impediments, is to move out into the great beyond where there is no human contact from his past. However, the problem, as the movie describes, is not found in the initial undertaking so much as the low chances of surviving in the wilderness if something goes wrong. The inexperienced Chris, with all his Walden-type idealism, would prove to be his own worst enemy shortly after arriving in Alaska. Besides telling a sad story, the movie does a great job in capturing the natural beauty of the Lower 48 and Alaska itself. Also, Chris's sister plays an effective role as background narrator in helping to fill the audience with pertinent pieces of his earlier life. Well worth seeing just to capture the sense of life on the open road!
on April 19, 2013
This is an excellent film, the cinematography is beautiful, the story-telling compelling, and it is based on an equally excellent book. Emile Hirsch is pitch perfect as young Christopher McCandless, a suburban kid who thinks he can go "into the wild" and make it his own. Hirsch's acting is reserved but nuanced. His gestures are spare but speak volumes. And then there's the scenery. From the Sea of Cortez to the Grand Canyon to the Denali wilderness, it's breathtaking. This is a movie that engrosses you from start to finish.
But lordy, that Mccandless kid was a sorry piece of work. The film does not portray the boy as a hero, but neither does it delve into the selfishness of this naive young man. Many reviewers find much to admire about him him as a free spirit and 'idealist.' Idealist my big toe.
What is idealistic about willful ignorance and a sense of entitlement? The kid goes into one of the most challenging and threatening environments on the planet without having clue one about what he's getting into, without adequate supplies and without a map. Idealism is best saved for politics and philosophy. In the wild, you need a willingness to learn. McCandless was so used to his family providing a safety net, it never occured to him that Nature would not bow to his needs as well. The movie, by the way, does hint that his parents are bad people because they offer the boy a new car when he graduates from high school and had the foresight to start a college fund for him. We should all suffer such abuse.
Chris McCandless certainly wanted people to think he was a selfless idealist, with his grandious handing over of his parent's money...not a cent of which he earned himself...to Oxfam. Plenty more where that came from, eh. He also doesn't waste time and effort learning how to survive. "Living off the land" has such a nice ring to it...why lumber yourself with any useful information on how it is to be accomplished. Naturally he becomes hopelessly lost. Naturally, after slaughtering a moose out of season, he eats a few bites and leaves the rest to rot. He doesn't even try to preserve it. What's so hard about slicing the meat thin and hanging it where the breeze hits it? It might not have worked, but he could have tried. His obliviousness is almost laughable: when he stumbles across an abandoned bus, which becomes his living quarters, he fails to connect the dots. Hello, it's a bus. Somebody drove it there, so there must be a road, probably right under the tires. Probably the same road the bus driver used to to get out of the wilderness.
Chris is no respecter of the wild, he's just lazy. Killing animals out of season impacts the species. So what. He was hungry. Even before getting to Alaska, he shows a woeful disrespect for nature; his trespassing in the Grand Canyon makes it clear he places far more importance on having fun than on preserving a wilderness.
No, I don't think McCandless was an idealist. He was certainy tragic: a tragic example of a middle class, pampered child.
Thoreau was an idealist and he didn't just wander blindly into the woods. He had some survival skills and certainly was wiling to learn more. Had he and the McCandless lad met, I would like to think that Henry David might have made an exception to his usual peace-loving ways. I can picture him placing one sensible and well-worn boot on the kid's backside and propelling him back toward his natural habitat...the nearest McDonalds.
on January 6, 2009
We saw this movie when it was first released on DVD, and were completely impressed. The story of self-discovery, and the shrugging-off of the material world is wonderful. The soundtrack is incredible as well, but that's another review !
More important to the Blu Ray release is the astounding outdoor panaramas throughout this film. Whether it's kayaking the Colorado river (my personal favourite segment) or discovering Caribou in Alaska, this film is a real treat for those who adventure in the outdoors (or are armchair adventurers!)
This film was released at the height of the Blu Ray vs HD-DVD "war" and was one of the movies originally released on HD-DVD.
It has taken a year or so for the Blu Ray version to hit the market, but I wasted no time ordering it as soon as it was available.
This is one of those films that we will watch and re-watch, and recommend to everyone.
on March 23, 2014
I read the book first and loved it. I was excited and afraid to see this film, as I was worried it'd wreck the jewel of a story. Happily, it was very close to the book. A few minor deviations actually made for a better film than if they had been 100% true to the book. Also, since the publication of the book and the production of this film, there has been great debate, and some revelation, about the main character's cause of death.
on September 21, 2015
While we were on the Alaska cruise, we heard an earful of this movie and the story of Chris McKandless. He is like a local deity in the woods. So we have to watch this movie, and try not only to know the full story but also to understand his story. The movie did a good job on the former, but fell a little short on the latter. Still a good movie to watch, more thought provoking than entertaining, but that was OK with us.
on April 15, 2008
Into the Wild follows the real-life story of an early-20's recent grad who gives up his middle-class life, his car and all his money and sets off on a hitchiker journey through America, finally settling in Alaska.
This movie really struck a chord with me on an emotional level, I've also often thought of eschewing all material things before, realizing it can never be the true source of happiness. But as the main character tragically realizes, neither is loneliness and isolation. Great movie with a powerful, haunting music score by Eddie Vedder.
on June 20, 2016
This is a powerful story about a young man's attempt to reconnect with nature and to find himself in the process. Both the acting and the directing are excellent, and involve the viewer in a searching experience, raising some fundamental existential questions. That the film is based on the tragic real-life experience of a young man makes it profoundly moving. This film is all the more important at a time when we realize that we have devastated the world of nature and are searching for a way to restore our relationship with nature without which we cannot survive long into the future.