Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Into The Wild (2007)

Into The Wild, based on the true story of Christopher Johnson McCandless, is an interesting biographical film following a young man's journey to find himself by following the dream many of us have of just packing up and leaving. Coming from a privileged background, and having followed "the plan" set out by his parents, Chris graduates college and runs, donating his life savings to charity and becoming a self-proclaimed "super-tramp".

As the film follows Chris in his adventures across North America, there's a not-so-subtle message centring on re-birth and growing into a different person (in more than one sense). It's a very romantic story, and inspirational in many ways. The sense of adventure and freedom that McCandless embodies throughout the journey speaks to many people much in the same way Fight Club's anti-consumerism message does; we don't need all the entrapments of modern living to be happy.

One thing that does seem to go under the radar for many people commenting on the film, however, is the other explanation for McCandless' fleeing from his past life. The narration provided by his sister heavily implies that this wasn't just an adventure for McCandless, but that he was running scared, especially from his parents. The trials of the relationship between Chris and the pair are revealed gradually, and along with the episodic nature in which McCandless joins up with others in his journey betrays the underlying fact that he fears getting too close to others lest they hurt him. Ultimately, it's his rejection of other people that leads him to the regrettable end that his real life counterpart also shared. If anything is to be taken from the film, it's not that we can achieve happiness if we leave behind all our modern entrapments, it's that we can achieve happiness by doing whatever we want as long as it's shared with others.

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