Into The Wild vs Into The Wild

Into the Wild

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

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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.

 

Water for Elephants vs Water for Elephants (2011)

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There’s an elderly gentleman in a nursing home, suffering from some elements of dementia. His present day is intermingling with memories of his youth; during the depression, he worked on a circus. There is laughter, tragedy, love, death. Everything you need for a good yarn.

I find that the elderly person reminiscing on their youth can be a really overworked structure unless it is done really well. For me, it was the perfect structure for the book of Water for Elephants. The character of the old man who has lost his independence and is feeling helpless and that he has had his dignity stripped from him was beautifully portrayed and led into the actions that he takes. It’s a very enjoyable book with a lot to keep you interested, and a lot of historical fact that I found fascinating.

I was extremely hesitant to watch the film as I am not the biggest fan of Robert Pattinson, the star of Twilight. It’s a small thing, but I often find that his lips are far too red, and I find that odd. Then I discovered the film also starred Reese Witherspoon and Christoph Waltz, and I am quite a fan of both of their work.

For a film, I don’t think it needed the old man reminiscing at all. Especially because all of his character was taken away and he was just left an empty vessel telling the story. There is enough in the story that it would have stood alone as a film. Plus, there are several times in the book when a period of time passes; a few days, or a week, but the film rushes through this and, I feel, loses some of the development of the story.

Both the film and the book are good; entertaining, different and interesting, but not brilliant.