Archive for the ‘sean penn’ Category

Into the Wild (2007)

November 12, 2007

Into the Wild is the film adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction book by the same title. Apparently, Sean Penn read the book a number of years ago and it stuck with him so much that years later he sat down to write the screenplay and didn’t even need re-read the book.

This is the story of Chris McCandless, a disaffected young man who eventually destroys his identity and sets out to experience life as never before. Chris’s family seem to have the American dream in hand: they have quite a bit of money, a seemingly loving relationship and a son who could be on his way to Harvard for law school. There’s one problem–Chris doesn’t want any of that. He cuts up his credit cards, burns his social security card and sets out as a tramp–Alexander Supertramp, to be exact.

The movie does a phenomenal job of chronicling Chris’s journey. Though there are certainly cliché parts to the film (Chris talking to an apple about how organic it is, for instance), the film is incredibly self-aware; so, moments after Chris calls the apple organic he makes a face at the camera. As we move through the story we learn more about what exactly Chris is doing and why, and we also meet a host of characters who affect Chris almost as much as he affects them. Through these relationships and experiences we see Chris move from an alienated individual to someone who is enjoying life to the fullest. The film ends in heartbreak when Chris dies in the Alaskan wilderness, miles away from anyone.

Although admittedly tragic, Chris is also heroic, and film shows this. It may seem at first glance that Chris’s struggle is merely anger or rebellion, but fortunately this isn’t the case. After the modern notions of truth and happiness that had surrounded Chris all his life had destroyed him enough, he left them, and went into the wild–both physically and metaphorically. Though it may seem as if Chris is merely a selfish loner who is attempting to escape society, towards the end of the film Chris is shown writing “happiness is only real when shared” in the margin of a book. Chris discovered more truth than many of us will ever know, and that is what draws me into his story. Chris knew more, loved deeper, experienced more than most of our surroundings would let us, and this shows through in the film beautifully.

-Chris Carson

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