Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer Essay
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Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Chris McCandless was just a victim of his own obsession. The novel "Into The Wild" written by John Krakauer revealed the life of a young bright man named Chris McCandless who turned up dead in Alaska in summer 1992. In the novel, John Krakauer approached carefully McCandless's life without putting too much authorial judgment to the readers. Although Chris McCandless remained an elusive figure throughout the novel, I can see Chris McCandless as a dreamy young idealist who tries to follow his dream but failed because of his innocent mistake which prove to be fatal and irreversible. Still, Chris McCandless's courage and passion was something that we should all be proud of.
When Chris McCandless's…show more content…
Chris McCandless was possessed by a nomadic existence and was trying to share his principle of life to his friend by telling that the truth about life was to explore the nature. Chris McCandless's last letter to Wayne revealed his true passion of nature. "This is the last you shall hear from me...I now walk into the wild"(pg 69). Some people concluded that it was Chris McCandless's suicide letter. However, in my opinion, Chris McCandless was just a victim of his own ego, pride and confidence that made him to neglect basic precautions that keep one person alive. He was controlled by his own delusions and that made him eager to test himself into strenuousness which proved fatal to him.
Chris McCandless was a true adventurer. He went to his journeys mostly by foot and would not take any chance to cheat it. He bought an aluminum canoe at Arizona and paddled down the Colorado River, and nearly drowning in rough water in the Gulf of California. In his journal, he writes ."..It is the experiences, the memories, the great triumphant joy of living to the fullest extent in which real meaning is found. God it's great to be alive! Thank you. Thank you" (pg37). His confession in his journal proved that he had no regrets of what he had done even though it almost cost him his life. He also turned down Wayne's offer to buy him an airplane ticket to
Mr. Salles’s film, in which Gael García Bernal played Che Guevara, found a political dimension in its hero’s journey. And while Chris’s fierce rejection of his parents’ middle-class, suburban life contains elements of ideological critique, Mr. Penn and Mr. Krakauer persuasively place him in a largely apolitical, homegrown tradition of radical, romantic individualism.
An enthusiastic reader (with a special affinity for Tolstoy and Jack London), Chris is in many ways the intellectual heir of 19th-century writer-naturalists like John Muir and especially Henry David Thoreau, whose uncompromising idealism — “rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth” — he takes as a watchword. (Had he survived, Mr. McCandless might well have joined the ranks of latter-day nature writers like Edward Abbey and Bill McKibben.) His credo is perhaps most succinctly stated by Thoreau’s mentor Ralph Waldo Emerson, who advised that “the ancient precept, ‘Know thyself,’ and the modern precept, ‘Study Nature,’ become at last one maxim.”
One problem with this strain of American thought is that it sometimes finds expression in self-help nostrums and greeting-card sentiments. “If you want something in life, reach out and grab it,” Chris says to Tracy (Kristen Stewart), a teenage girl who develops a crush on him, collapsing Self-Reliance into something like an advertising slogan. But the movie’s theme, thankfully, is not so simple or so easily summed up in words.
Mr. Penn, even more than Mr. Krakauer, takes the Emersonian dimension of Chris McCandless’s project seriously, even as he understands the peril implicit in too close an identification with nature. The book took pains to defend its young protagonist against the suspicion that he was suicidal, unbalanced or an incompetent outdoorsman, gathering testimony from friends he had made in his last years as evidence of his kindness, his care and his integrity. The film, at some risk of sentimentalizing its hero, goes further, pushing him to the very brink of sainthood. After Chris offers wise, sympathetic counsel to Rainey (Brian Dierker), a middle-aged hippie he has befriended on the road, the older man looks at him with quiet amazement. “You’re not Jesus, are you?” he asks.
Well no, but it’s a comparison that Mr. Penn does not entirely discourage. (Note the final, man of sorrows image of Mr. Hirsch’s face and also an earlier shot of him floating naked in a stream, his arms extended in a familiar cruciform shape.) At the same time, though, “Into the Wild” resists the impulse to interpret Chris’s death as a kind of martyrdom or as the inevitable, logical terminus of his passionate desire for communion with nature.
Instead, with disarming sincerity, it emphasizes his capacity for love, the gift for fellowship that, somewhat paradoxically, accompanied his fierce need for solitude. Though he warns one of his friends against seeking happiness in human relationships — and also rails incoherently against the evils of “society” — Chris is a naturally sociable creature. And “Into the Wild” is populated with marvelous actors — including Mr. Dierker, a river guide and ski-shop owner making his first appearance in a film — who make its human landscape as fascinating and various as its topography.
The source of Chris’s wanderlust, and of the melancholy that tugs at the film’s happy-go-lucky spirit, is traced to his parents (William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden), whose volatile marriage and regard for appearances begin to seem contemptible to their son. (His feelings for them are explained in voice-over by his younger sister, Carine, who is played by Jena Malone.)
Fleeing from his mother and father, Chris finds himself drawn, almost unwittingly, to parental surrogates: a rowdy grain dealer in South Dakota (Vince Vaughn), a retired military man in the California desert (Hal Holbrook) and Rainey’s companion, Jan (Catherine Keener), who seems both carefree and careworn.
Chris reminds some of these people of their own lost children, but all of them respond to something about him: an open, guileless quality, at once earnest and playful, that Mr. Hirsch conveys with intuitive grace. “You look like a loved kid,” Jan says, and “Into the Wild” bears that out in nearly every scene.
He is loved, not least, by Mr. Penn, who has shown himself, in three previous films (“The Indian Runner,”“The Crossing Guard” and “The Pledge”) to be a thoughtful and skilled director. He still is, but this story seems to have liberated him from the somber seriousness that has been his hallmark as a filmmaker until now. “Into the Wild” is a movie about the desire for freedom that feels, in itself, like the fulfillment of that desire.
Which is not to say that there is anything easy or naïve in what Mr. Penn has done. “Into the Wild” is, on the contrary, alive to the mysteries and difficulties of experience in a way that very few recent American movies have been. There are some awkward moments and infelicitous touches — a few too many Eddie Vedder songs on the soundtrack, for example, when Woody Guthrie, Aaron Copland or dead silence might have been more welcome — but the film’s imperfection, like its grandeur, arises from a passionate, generous impulse that is as hard to resist as the call of the open road.
“Into the Wild” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). It has profanity, brief nudity and some violent or otherwise upsetting scenes.
INTO THE WILD
Opens today in New York and Los Angeles.
Directed by Sean Penn; written by Mr. Penn, based on the book by Jon Krakauer; director of photography, Eric Gautier; edited by Jay Cassidy; score by Michael Brook with songs and additional music by Eddie Vedder and Kaki King; production designer, Derek R. Hill; produced by Mr. Penn, Art Linson and Bill Pohlad; released by Paramount Vantage. Running time: 140 minutes.
WITH: Emile Hirsch (Christopher McCandless), Marcia Gay Harden (Billie McCandless), William Hurt (Walt McCandless), Jena Malone (Carine), Brian Dierker (Rainey), Catherine Keener (Jan Burres), Vince Vaughn (Wayne Westerberg), Kristen Stewart (Tracy) and Hal Holbrook (Ron Franz).
Into the Wild
NYT Critic’s Pick
WritersSean Penn, Jon Krakauer (Book)
StarsEmile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener
Running Time2h 28m
GenresAdventure, Biography, Drama
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Last updated: Nov 2, 2017