Sunday, November 04, 2007

into the wild

I saw into the wild at the princess cinemas this week.

into the wild is based on the 1996 book of the same name by Jon Krakauer.

It’s film that does not have a Hollywood ending. It’s gritty. It’s painful. It’s real.

Critics have made much of that fact that the real Chris McCandless is not the Chris McCandless that is portrayed in the film… so… it’s not a bio-pic. It’s a story based on the life of a real person. And like many stories, it is that framework which is used to tell a story. In this case, Krakauer uses McCandless to portray the extreme example of every young man who turns his back on today’s society and goes into the wilderness to find himself. Here’s a young man who withdraws from society, because society is messed up. He grew up in a wealthy, suburban, successful dysfunctional family who wanted him to follow in their footsteps.

Fed up with society and how people treat each other, McCandless seeks freedom in isolation, believing that only by losing everything can he find himself. The journey takes McCandless, who leaves behind his name and dubs himself Alexander Supertramp, from Georgia to the deserts of Arizona by road. He paddles down the Colorado River all the way to Mexico. He hitchhikes and hops trains from California to the grain fields of South Dakota. Each step takes him closer to his final destination, where he boards his “magic bus” in the Alaskan wilderness.

As we journey into the wild, part of us soars with Chris on his great adventure.
It's also interesting how many of the people he meets on the journey call on his not to reject his family, even as he experiences true family as they extend grace and hospitality toward him. They are as gripped by his story as he is theirs.

Just before heading to Alaska, Chris meets an elderly leather maker. Ron Franz. This frail man, who has lived alone since the death of his family many years before, is challenged to live and enjoy life by the young traveler. Franz, in turn, blesses Chris with the wisdom and love that Chris had sought so long from his own family. Franz, tells him: “when you forgive, you love. And when you love, God’s light shines on you.” You can almost see the weight of the world lifted off Chris’ shoulders at this revelation.

Near the end of the film there are two statements that are significant. One of the last things he scrawls in his notebook is
Happiness only real when shared.
The other thing is a board on which he writes a final messge talking where he mentions the significance of naming things. At the bottom of the board he signs his real name. He is no longer Alexander Supertramp. He is
Christopher Johnson McCandless
If you get a chance... it's worth seeing.

1 comment:

bill said...

great review, spot on!

great movie with great messages.