Into the Wild
suspect that there will be two very polar opposite kinds of reactions to the
main character of Into the Wild - reactions which will completely
color how a viewer sees the film in general.
Many people will see him as
a hero - someone who is willing to shed all the trappings of modern society
to test his will and stamina to experience nature at its most beautiful and
others will look at the guy and see a spoiled, immature rich kid - one who
often hurts people around him, takes advantage of strangers' generosity and
is blindly rebelling against a life which has not been all that hard on him.
Both camps will have legit
arguments and both would probably be completely right.
Perhaps because I don't
necessarily share Christopher McCandless' romantic hobo wanderlust, I tend
to come down more in the second camp.
Not that I don't respect
his right to see the world (even though he was regularly breaking laws to do
it) and experience the wonders of nature - it's just that only parts of his
trip are appealing to me. The destinations are almost always more
interesting than the voyages. So much of it seems selfish and
that bad - sure it was an unhappy home, full of
arguments and the hint of possibly a little violence - but there are people
who live through a lot worse everyday. He also claims to love his
sister (Jena Malone) and always be there for her - and yet he makes no
attempt to get word to her that he is alive and happy despite the fact that
he must realize that she is frantic about him.The film keeps telling us
that his home life was so unbearable, and yet the slices of it we are shown
in flashback weren't
He is as thoughtless to the
strangers who care for him on the road. He flirts with a beautiful
girl he meets at a hobo camp, all the while knowing she wants more from him
than he can or will give her. (On a side note - I'd be willing to bet
that there are not many, if any, girls at hobo camps that are half as
beautiful as Kristen Stewart, who plays the role.)
He goads an elderly man
(Hal Holbrook) - who has offered him friendship, food and a home - for
living his little boring life. He shames the old guy into climbing a
mountain face, never considering how dangerous that would be to a man of
this advanced age.
Is he doing all this
because he feels a call to bond with the world or just because he has
nothing better to do?
He keeps pointing out that
it is a great adventure, but as a nice hippie couple he meets on the road
points out to him, it is possible to live on the road and at the same time
allow yourself some creature comforts. Is he trying to experience the
wild or become a martyr to it? After all, at a certain point you just
have to ask: is going to Alaska without much in the way of food or
supplies an act of bravery or stupidity?
So while Into the Wild
is full of gorgeous scenery, quirky supporting characters and the
splendor of the animal world, I can't really say I ever warmed up to it.
Jay S. Jacobs
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Posted: November 16, 2007.