Film – Into The Wild (2007)
A free-spirited guy, Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) decides to leave his expected future and travel around America with no money, just finding his way, meeting people and having experiences. His ultimate goal? To live in the wilds of Alaska. And he does, although it ends up taking his life.
I watched this a few years ago and remember being quite annoyed at it. Cynical me thought ‘blah blah blah, idealism and blah blah’. Being played recently on SBS gave me a chance to revisit, and I hated it a lot less. I still didn’t love it; cynical me was still mocking his wide-eyed wonder at every little thing in nature. But I hated it a lot less. I’ve enjoyed the writings of John Krakauer in the past (I’d highly recommend both Into Thin Air and Beyond the Banners of Heaven), and think perhaps if I read the book on which the film was based, I might like the movie more. But perhaps not. The only thing that really surprised me was that the adventures that this based-on-a-true-story film was created around happened in 1992, not 1965.
Into the Wild was nominated for Oscars for Best Performance by an Actor in a supporting Role (Hal Holbrook) and Best Achievement in Film Editing.
Book – Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
As I mentioned previously, I had expectations from the book. I hoped it would give me some insight that would make me enjoy the film more. It didn’t, but having read the book, I realize that is a pretty silly expectation.
The book is definitely worth a read. It seems the film portrayal of Chris McCandless is pretty accurate, and I still think I wouldn’t have liked him. But the interviews Krakauer did makes it very clear that he McCandless made a real impact on people in his life.
What I liked most in the book, however, was the comparisons between McCandless and a variety of other young men who take themselves off to complete extreme challenges, often for no really strong reason. This included Krakauer himself, who as a young man climbed a rock formation in Alaska on his own, making several decisions and mistakes that could have easily have led to his death. I think McCandless and Krakauer and the other people mentioned in the book are foolish and foolhardy to attempt such things in often quite a reckless fashion, but I feel that I must give them some kind of respect also. They are very different to me in personality and that’s just fine.