I finally got around to watching Into the Wild, the (obviously) film adaptation of the novel about Chris McCandless. The irony will probably be lost on you, but my journey in getting around to watching it was almost as long as his trek. I have often fantasized of escaping the complexity of life for the seeming simplicity of nature; replacing gramophones, slide rules, and a shirt and tie for birds, sticks, and tanned rawhide. Naturally a movie about just this would interest me. I avoided it at release because of the Sean Penn factor. Yes, I have an arbitrary dislike for all things Penn. No, I can’t explain it, that’s what makes it arbitrary.
A little over a year ago I got hooked on the Into the Wild soundtrack. The album manages to tell the story from idealistic beginnings, setbacks, triumphs, loneliness, and finally loss. The vivid imagery it invokes convinced me that I had to see the movie. Unfortunately, the combination of my schedule, extreme
laziness dedication to important charity work kept me from getting my hands on a copy. Eventually the urge to watch the movie passed and life went on. That is until a week ago when I tossed in the CD for a drive out of the city and the desire was re-ignited. This time I made sure to get a hold of the DVD and cleared my schedule.
I was prepared for a fairly sequential story of the rejection of society leading to a wilderness voyage filled with dangerous encounters and survival challenges. Immediately my expectations were shattered by the simple difference in sequence of the soundtrack and the movie. From then on I was taken on my own bittersweet journey. The nature aspect of the story felt secondary, more of a beautiful co-star rather than the purpose. Into the Wild turned out to be a very human story of relationships and finding meaning in your life. I have not been hit so hard by a movie since The Brothers Bloom. Establishing connections and touching the lives of strangers resonates with me. It may have something to do with my reputation of wandering and trying to make friends with random people or it may have deeper meaning; it gave me some perspective on the why of that reputation.
Into the Wild easily falls into one of my favourite movie experiences. I highly recommend it to anyone who has felt the draw of nature or enjoys the thrill of meeting new people. The experience is improved if you are feeling like some personal reflection, so it’s a bonus if that’s for you. I will leave you with a line from the movie to think about. Yes, I know that hurts but deal, doofus. The line comes near the end when a weak, lonely, and afraid Chris writes in a book.
Happiness only real when shared.
Hug it out.