In this drama, Chris meets many different people whom enrich and impact Chris’ life more than money or success ever could. I believe that this is an incredible dramatic film. All of the characters are very realistic and being that it is a true story, you are able to connect more with Chris and his struggles. Throughout the movie you are questioning Chris like you would a friend. You are wondering why he is choosing to make certain decisions and follow the paths that he is choosing to follow, but you can’t help but connect to him because everyone has been lost at one point in their life.
James Berardinelli from Reelviews says, “By the end of the movie, I don’t know that I liked Chris, but I understood him and sympathized with him, and sometimes that’s more important”(1). When it comes to the characters in the movie, In the words of Jan Stuart, “Sean Penn’s sprawling, lovingly crafted film is crowded with the sort of big-hearted, life-toughened characters one would hope to run into while tramping across America” (1). As Chris travels across the country he befriends many different individuals who impact his life as he impacts theirs. There is Rainy and Jan (Brian H.
Dierker and Catherine Keener) a hippie couple who are traveling around the United States in their bus. Chris reminds them of their lost son and helps them spark their fading relationship. While they should him what love is. He becomes a brother to Wayne Westerberg (Vince Vaughn), a farmer who hires Chris to work with him, teaching Chris the lighter side of life. There is retired military man Ron Franz (Hal Holbrook) who develops a father, son relationship with Chris. As Chris shows how to love again, Ron shows Chris understanding and desires for him to be more cautious.
Something that I believe makes this film stand out from others within its genre is how is doesn’t follow the typical “fairy tale” story line. In most nonfiction dramas you watch the characters climb and excel, usually starting at a low point in their life and end up on a high one. For example, in the Pursuit of Happiness, you watch as a homeless man overcomes all odds and reaches success. However, in Into the Wild you watch as the main character slowly declines. He starts at a point in which most people would view as complete, and watch as he declines into an emaciated lost kid. Ultimately ending in Chris’ death.
One particular scene which truly significant to the story is when Chris is sitting alone at his apartment; he has just graduated from Emory with all A’s and was accepted into Harvard Law School. When watch as he begins to cut up all identification that he has of himself and writes a check out to charity for all of his life savings. He then proceeds to burn his license plate on his car and all of the cash that he has. The reason this scene is so relevant is because it is at this exact point that you watch him lose his entire identity, everything in which his parents had told him mattered; money, success, material possessions, etc. ets thrown away. He is now completely free from societal influences and we watch as his character begins to develop on it’s own. One thing I like is howSean Penn makes Chris’s character very relatable, however at the same time you question everything that he is going through. Sean Penn’s adaptation of Chris never glorified him for going against society, but it also never made him look weak or less of a man. Obviously, you wonder his motives, and what he is really running away from, wealth, norms, family?
This film lets you decide how you feel towards the characters while the entire time maintaining incredible acting, music, and cinematography. Richard Schickel says, “It is a little difficult to see what’s bugging him. His father (William Hurt) is a successful, self-made businessman, who is perhaps a little too sternly conventional in his views. His mother (Marcia Gay Harden) is a perhaps a little too softly so and, yes, there are strains in their marriage. But they are scarcely monsters, and the values they represent, though stodgy, are not exactly oppressive”(1). However, I totally disagree with his view of the movie.
It is not oppression or resentment that is pushing Chris to go on his adventure. It is his desire to break free from normal societal roles. This film never made his parents out to be monsters, I don’t think he was running away from his parents, but instead from their views on what was important in life. Another thing about this movie that sets it apart form most genres is the death of the main character. As the movie comes to an end we watch as I believe Chris begins to realize how ill prepared he was for this adventure. He has only brought with him a gun, a book on edible plants, and a sack of rice.
He becomes an emaciated boy trapped in his own dream. He has no food, poor shelter, and no way to get out. I think it’s ironic how what he wanted the most is what ultimately led to his death. He had no plans of staying in the wilderness forever, but without the skills necessary for survival, he couldn’t escape. The final scene in the movie is what I thought to be the most gripping and left you wondering. Chris is lying in his “magic bus” staring up into the sky and envisioning a reunion with his parents. In his vision everyone is so happy to see him, they are crying and filled with joy.
As he is taking his final breaths his vision begins to fade and he takes his last breath with a smile on his face. Panning above him you see where he has written a message to anyone that were to find him. Instead of using his made up name he simply has his real name written with the letters SOS. This scene makes me wonder if he was happy that he had chosen to take this path and die on his adventure, or was he smiling because of the last vision he had of his family and happiness. I choose to believe it is because he saw his family and the love they really did have for him.
When Into the Wild was released is brought in over $18,000,000 in the box office. Since then it has been nominated for 2 Oscars and 29 other nominations with 9 wins. This movie was released on March 4th, 2008 (rottentomatoes. com). As noted before I believe that this movie is a definite must for everyone to see. It is an incredible story which will tug at your heart as you watch him make life choices which will ultimately end in his death. This is a great story, with incredible acting, remarkable music, and breathtaking cinematography. I think that Colin Covert put it best when he said, “The film, I am convinced, is unforgettable” (1).