Into the Wild

This isn’t really going to be a review, simply a reflection.

Tonight I watched a movie that I had been cautiously avoiding for the last few months. The story of Chris McCandles has been far from mind for three years since I read it in my senior year of high school. Sitting in a factory line desk, taking notes from a materialistic, sports-enthused history teacher, and trying hard to ignore the hypocrisy and mindlessness of recent American history, this book was the only thing I came close to enjoying in that class. Alex Supertramp, as Mccandles wanted to be known during his journey, was a half-genius, half crazy privileged white American male who gave up his hard earned savings, college degree, and chances for a rational future in 1990 to go live on the land of modern America.

For this, he learned much, met many, influenced a handful, and died alone in the very wilderness he so loved.

I sit here, typing on a computer- my main occupation consisting primarily of machines, electronics, and permits- knowing full well my life could have easily become that. I had tried to leave home many times in my high school years. Sometimes driving, sometimes walking, sometimes running. I never made it much further than a few miles. I once walked maybe four or five down the local tracks until I came across the Shady Grove Metro station.

I called my mom to pick me up, if I remember correctly. It was always just to blow off steam.

What Alex had that I don’t, however, was a real vision of getting lost. Getting away and coming to a state of nothingness. Mono-no-aware. Complete letting go and embracing the surrounding.

It is only then, after all, that we can truly start over.

I write all this, thought provoked by a spinning disc in a DVD player in the utmost disdain. I almost let this movie pass me by. I should not have been afraid. Though it does make me wish I could take such a journey or live such a life for some time, it did not drive me mad with the hatred for a society I am very much a part of. It did not turn me against my current lifestyle.

I recommend this movie fully without any caution to anyone and everyone. If you don’t like the story, hell, at least you can see a plethora of On Location shooting of parts of America you’ll probably never visit (or at least completely appreciate). The acting can sometimes feel preachy, but over all it is potent and alive. Knowing that these actors like Vince Vaughn and Hal Halbrook are playing REAL LIFE people who REALLY met and knew this kid with words taken from the amazing book by Jack Krakeur brings so much more emotion to the viewing. The beauty of the cinematography, the graceful montage editing, and the overpowering quotes of such great writers as Tolstoy, London, and Thoreau used in the narration really cements this movie as a work of art and truth.

Not my favorite movie. It most likely won’t break my top 25, though it certainly is one I will purchase, remember, and look back to when I feel like I’ve been stuck in my house for a day too long.