Into the Wild (2007)
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What is supposed to be an inspiring and brave tale of a young adventurer who travels to find himself, turns out to be a story of a pompous kid who runs away from what he imagines is wrong with his life. I wasn't impressed, although the images of the land were pretty.
After many years of considering this a favorite, I have finally read the book, rewatched the movie and now have revised my opinion. While it is well acted and shot, I am less impressed with the story than before I knew more about the life of Christopher McCandless as depicted in the non-fiction book by Jon Krakauer.
Like myself at that age, yet still similar as I get on in years, McCandless was an idealist enraged by the world he inhabited and the straight paths it offered him and enthralled by the world of days-gone-by as depicted by his literary heroes, Jack London and Henry David Thoreau. As a naive young college student, I was warned by a close friend to avoid seeing this as it would put dangerous ideas in my head. And he was right. For the next few years I was itching to set upon my own personal journey through the world, choosing to reject the safe straight paths through life, opting for more interesting indirect routes that lead to unique experiences that sound fictional when shared with others. When relating my adventures to others, I always preface that one should not attempt to repeat them as my continued survival is bewildering even to me after intense rumination.
Much like McCandless looked to London and Thoreau to inspire him on his journey, I looked to McCandless as filtered through the vision of Sean Penn with auditory assistance from Eddie Vedder and after my experiences, only now do I realize just how fortunate I am to be able to write this. Watching this and then attempting to recreate McCandless' trip with the belief of a different outcome is wildly reckless and completely irresponsible. Reading the source material really frames the film in a different perspective. For instance, just as some people view Christopher McCandless as some sort of folk hero, others believe him to be nothing more than an ignorant fool who got what he deserved. As we live in a society that tends to settle for the quick and easily digestible wisdom, I understand that many might view this movie more as an inspirational rather than a cautionary tale. For those that do not yet view it as both, I urge you to read the book and look for other ways to grow up and receive your enlightenment.
Great film, but I unfortunately can't help but side with those who dismiss McCandless as an arrogant, uninformed kid. I've read the book as well, and I've come away simply feeling bad for those he encountered. His is an interesting story, but more cautionary than inspirational.
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In 9 official lists
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This movie ranks #15 in Biography
This movie ranks #18 in Independent
This movie ranks #21 in FOK! top 250
This movie ranks #30 in 2000s
This movie ranks #35 in Adventure
This movie ranks #179 in Top 250
This movie ranks #208 in iCheckMovies - Most Checked
This movie ranks #412 in The 21st Century's Most Acclaimed Films
This movie ranks #473 in Empire 500