Friday, September 28, 2007

Having recently read Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, and after reading the grand review's Sean Penn's adaptation was getting, I had to go see this movie, and I'm really glad I did.

After reading the book I wrote:

"This is the story of Christopher McCandless, who, after graduating from Emory University in Atlanta in 1992, abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska, where he went to live in the wilderness. Four months later, he turned up dead. His diary, letters and two notes found at a remote campsite tell of his struggles, and he apparently starved to death, though his mistakenly having eaten poisonous seeds likely contributed to his slow death.

Krakauer, is clearly sympathetic to the young man, and seems eager to discredit those who lashed out at McCandless after his death for being foolish at best, and having a death wish at worst, by drawing parallels to his own reckless youthful exploit in 1977 when he climbed Devils Thumb, a mountain on the Alaska-British Columbia border, partly as a symbolic act of rebellion against his autocratic father.I enjoy Krakauer's writing, but I wasn't entirely convinced. McCandless stuck me as being a very, very bright kid, but lacking even a modicum of common sense. That he survived for 4 months was a miracle."

Penn is even more sympathetic to McCandless, he's made a lovely film in tribute to him, and after seeing this movie, I am convinced. The young man's charm comes through in spades, and you're left with the tragedy of the early death of an idealistic, albeit somewhat foolish, young man. Emile Hirsch does a wonderful job as McCandless, and the physical transformation as McCandless starves to death was amazing. (Hirsch lost 40 lbs during the filming). He also conveys the tragedy of a young man who comes to realize that life has so much to offer and so much to be shared, only to lose his life before he could put these realizations to good use.

Penn filmed the movie in the same areas that McCandless travelled and the scenery is spectacular. The soundtrack rich with Eddie Vedder's original songs was the perfect accompaniment; I've already downloaded the soundtrack album off of iTunes.

Into the Wild is only playing at one theater in Orange County, but it is worth tracking down when it goes into wider release. The photo below is a self-portrait of McCandless taken in Alaska. The camera and undeveloped film were found after this death.


Blogger sage said...

thanks for the review--I don't get out to many movies, but this one sounds like a "must see"

4:15 AM  
Blogger M-M-M-Mishy said...

Sounds like a good movie. Now I just have to find out where the theatres are around here...

Did you like the book or the film more?

6:39 AM  
Blogger NY KAT said...

I haven't been out to see a movie in quite awhile....I'll have to check this one out

8:16 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

sage - I think you'd like it, particularly as an adventuresome fella

mishy - I liked them both alot - I'm glad I read the book first, and I really liked the movie

kat - this is the first time I've been out to the movies in a very long time

9:04 AM  
Blogger LA said...

I just read about this in The District, although it was less of a review and more of an indictment of Sean Penn.

11:41 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

la - there are some reviews like that too. Even the reviews that love the movie note that Penn has come close to deifying McCandless. The movie is somewhat polarizing, as was the underlying story. I thought Penn and Hirsch pulled if off though

12:59 PM  
Blogger prettykitty said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:08 PM  
Blogger prettykitty said...

diane, i caught sean penn on oprah and aside from the fact that i think he's a brilliant filmmaker and one of the greatest american actors of our times, this film really looked like it was a beautiful adaptation of the book. i know alot was based on speculation because noone really knows for sure what happened to mccandless, but what a great testament to his legacy and for living life the way he chose. i'm always threatening to run away and live off the land, but chris actually did it.

ps thanks to your recommendation, i ran out and bought the book and i'm so glad i did. what an intriguing read.

8:41 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

kitty - Thanks, I hope you enjoy it!

9:43 PM  

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