Into the Wild

As with Terrence Malick’s 2005 film ‘The New World’ parts of Into the Wild come across like a poem on the screen, snowy landscapes, wild animals, flowing streams and breathtaking skies. I’m also a sucker for a voiceover and slow motion if used properly and here director Sean Penn does both to great effect which just adds to the poetic nature of the overall piece. Emile Hirsch should get an Oscar nomination for his role as Christopher McCandless the college graduate who gives away everything he has, college funds to Oxfam, cuts up his I.D. cards, burns his leftover dollars and embarks on the journey that will take him across America and eventually land him in Alaska. After graduating Christopher decides he want to leave society, find the true human spirit, and leave behind his privileged but stifling lifestyle and especially his overbearing and bickering parents. So without telling anyone he sets off destined to find himself. Told in chapters the film follows Christopher from the start where he re-names himself Alexander Supertramp to the final days in Alaska where he lives in the magic bus. Along the way he meets various characters that in some way help to shape him as he travels and as he grows from boy to man. As well as the stunning cinematography, great acting and fascinating story there is the soundtrack which is at times incredibly powerful, with original material from Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder it hard to imagine some of the scenes without it as it is so integral to the plot. Cursed by intelligence and maybe slight madness Alex is documenting his time and when he’s not writing he’s reading Tolstoy and Kafka amongst others and it’s not just his mind he needs to expand as he learns the skills he needs to fend for himself, collecting berries and hunting animals he soon discovers it’s not as easy as it seems. But a firm sense of determination pushes him forward and sees him adapt to almost anything. The structure of the film is fragmented and jumps to different time periods which is what keeps you guessing right up until the parting shot which to me was unexpected and left me a little stunned. At two and half hours it is quite a long film but it never feels it and the best way to enjoy it is to let yourself go and immerse yourself fully in the experience. Into the Wild should stay with you long after you’ve seen it, who hasn’t dreamt at some point of disappearing and living free from the shackles of modern life? It is both a memorable and moving film that should become an American classic.

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