Into the Wild

October 9, 2007 at 7:27 am (Gypsy Life) (, , )

Into the Wild“A career is a 20th century invention and I don’t want one.” Christopher McCandless, Into the Wild.

It is a huge undertaking to take an incredible book and turn it into a good movie and truth be told, I was not expecting Into the Wild, Sean Penn’s adaptation of John Krakauer’s book to live up to the hype when I headed to Tower Theater. I actually found the movie version to be everything it’s cracked up to be by film critics and Outside Magazine. The star, Emile Hirch, plays Christopher McCandless (known throughout the movie as Alexander Supertramp), the college graduate who wanders around the U.S. and eventually wanders alone into the Alaskan wilderness to try his luck at living off the land for the winter. Hirch plays a much more jovial character than I had imagined when I read the book, however, he manages to display the darker sides of Chris’ personality as well. I think it came across how introverted and introspective Chris was, but the happy-go-lucky aspect of his personality made him a more likable movie character. The scenery shots were incredible as well and definitely moved Alaska high on my list of places to travel to in the near future.

Into the Wild Kayak Grand Canyon

I wondered, as I sat in Tower Theater watching Into the Wild, how the movie affected other 20-somethings. If I had a cubicle job, a salary, and a 401k, what would the movie make me think about? Would I question the life I was leading and wonder if I should be exploring, living simply, and becoming familiar with adventure and the natural world? The movie did not seem to inflict any judgment or value system on the viewers, but the message is not lost either. Here is a kid who is appalled when his parents want to buy him a new car for graduation, and then donates his $25,000 of savings to Ox Fam and takes off to travel around the country to live a hippy lifestyle.

Into the Wild Alaska Photo

I am constantly faced with the decision of continuing to be a nomadic river guide or get a full-time salaried job that will guarantee a financially stable future for the family I someday hope to have. Fortunately for me, the film only reinforced my wandering, gypsy lifestyle. One thing I love about traveling, guiding, and being part of those communities is all of the incredible, interesting people I come across. Chris’ experience is no exception. He befriends everyone from the sweetest old man to the hippy couple to a supposed crook. The movie also reminded me of all the amazing places there are to explore, the hard skills I would like to learn, and the undeniable sense of self I find every time I escape to the wilderness whether it be via raft, bike, or foot. Chris’ character was brave, kind, and socially aware. Despite the fact that he ends up dying, there were several moments throughout the film (and the book) that reaffirmed my current life path choice and helped me to remember how fragile and significant each moment we have on this earth is.

The original article in Outside Magazine from 1993 was written by Krakauer and is a great read.

In 2000, Outside Magazine published an interview with Krakauer.


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