Into the Wild

Based on a true story/the book by Jon Krakauer, directed by Sean Penn, starring Emile Hirsch as Chris McCandless, Marcia Gay Harden as Chris' mom, William Hurt as Chris's father, Jena Malone as Carine McCandless (Chris' sister), Vince Vaughn as Wayne Westerberg (the farmer who gets arrested), Kristen Stewart as Tracy Tatro (girl who crushes on Chris) and Catherine Keener as Jan Burres (hippie lady).

(warning: plot spoilers)

Chris McCandless desires a more meaningful purpose for living than seeking comfort for comfort's sake. Therefore, to escape everything that might lull him into embracing the materialistic status quo, he sets out to live off the land in the Alaskan wilderness.

Chris hitchhikes for about a year until he finally makes it to Alaska. Most everyone he runs into along the way takes an immediate liking to him. Hippies and farmers offer him jobs. A talented young singer falls in love with him. One retired man even offers to adopt him. These were all good options, but he refuses to stray from his course.

Chris enlivens the people he runs into by challenging their worldviews. His acquaintances can't help being infected by his tenacious hope and sense of adventure. His words affect people powerfully person's because he doesn't just talk about living free, he active seeks living free.

Chris McCandless was young and inexperienced, but he didn't let that stop him. He didn't have all the answers, but he knew at least that there was more purpose for living than what had been handed to him. Unfortunately, his mission kills him before he gets the chance to mature his life-vision. He finds out just before his premature and lonely death in the Alaskan wilderness that he had missed something. Judging by the statement he writes in the margins of one of his books, "Happiness of only real with shared," his final regret is dying alone.

Another unreconciled chapter in McCandless's life was his relationship with his parents. From this perspective, it would seem that his adventurous pursuits were only a cover for his unwillingness to deal with his relational problems. But I don't fault him for his, as he had just moved out of his parents' house and could hardly be expected to know what
being reconciled or "living free" really means. Spending time away from his parents gave him the chance to develop his own identity and equip him for dealing with that relational brokenness. It just so happens that he didn't survive long enough to follow through with this.

He ran away from home, which probably worried his parents to death; but he was practically still a kid... what do you expect?

Chris McCandless caught a vision for his life, which he ran after full speed ahead. This is certainly not something to regret. He had the courage to put his life-purpose to the test and therefore learned more and experienced a fuller life in his two years of wandering than most people ever learn or experience. Practically speaking, if we follow Christ, we should lead a similar quality of life as McCandless, challenging and inspiring the people around us. We should also learn by doing rather than by theorizing.

We should admire the natural universe as God created it and we should embrace a spirit of adventure, but main thing is still God's Big Picture. And the best way to know about God's Big Picture is by learning from God's Spirit directly. All people were created to fulfill some purpose within God's kingdom, which includes admiring God for His creative ability, working, playing, fellowshipping with people and fellowshipping with Jesus Christ (God among us).

Obviously Chris McCandless didn't spend his life vain, as his story continues to inspire people to reexamine their priorities. He did his best with the limited time he had, but his shifting convictions indicate that his purpose for wandering still needed some major revisions. I suspect that his convictions were shifting in a big way, especially as during his final days, cold and alone in the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness.

Chris McCandless sought solitude, adventure and untainted nature to the point that he died for this pursuit. However, lying there in his cold bus, starving to death, he suspected that he had overlooked something. If he had more time, he might have explored this Something a little more.


Unknown said...

I left this comment on my blog, but then went to yours and enjoyed what you said.....

I agree Patrick. I couldn't get him out of my head for ages, thinking about why he did what he did and what it said about society. It is amazing really how much gave to everyone he met. I've got the DVD and I'm making people watch it. It is too good to keep to yourself. I'm sorry that it didn't do better at the box office.

Anonymous said...

One of the greatest movies of 2007.
It thrilled me in a unexpected way, making me jealous of Chris´ journey :)

This films inspires me peace and hope of living another life far away from many urban sickness.

Thanks for your comment.


Rick said...

Good summing up but I sense there is something much deeper and universal about what Chris discovered, or at least experienced. Something that has been left unsaid in the film, something I want to say when I can get some tranquility and a PC together in one place.

I think lots of backpackers can identify with Chris, especially those who travel alone. His experiences are typical. We all meet people who love us, we all find lives we could keep but instead we move on, we all worry our families. The Alaska thing though was a step beyond the usual experience. I thought he was going to achieve something, I was waiting for enlightenment to be shown to me and when he died instead that made me really angry. I never saw it coming, I thought he was going to get out until the very end.

Because of the music and because I didn't know how it was going to end this was a far more personal and involving film for me. I've lived most of it.

Vineet Rajan said...

they can still make good movies. :)

Anonymous said...

This was a good movie. It strayed from the book in that it didn't make Chris look to be such an idiot with the standard 16 year old's complex about their parents.

I choose to think he was more akin to this actor than who he looked like in the book, because I think we were all a bit of that kid at one time.

Anonymous said...

This was definitely one of the best movies of 2007 and I really enjoyed the overall story.

I agree with you that his life was not a waste. He can live on and inspire people to continue with what goals they have set for themselves against any and all odds.

Truly, as I said before, one of the best and most inspirational movies of 2007.


rantravereflect/ jane said...

gonna watch the movie fo sure man..
good readin all ya reviews..

i only think it's extremely coincidental tat he died, cos his way of life is as experimental and awe-inspining as tat of a meandering may fly that ate and didn't mate, unlike the other usual mayflies :)

ya choose the way ya live, just like God chose to die at a young age on the cross.- jus cos he died early, it doesn't mean he didn't live out his purpose. Infact, his early death on the cross for us, saved us of our sins for a long time,,

a good movie, a candid protagonist, a well-spun-out way of life, an interpret-the-way-you-see-it life n death :)

funny, but all of us have got a chis livin in us!

andieplease said...

GREAT movie. (:
glad you agree.