When you want something in life, you just gotta reach out and grab it.Christopher McCandless / Alexander Supertramp
These words were what pushed young college graduate Christopher McCandless to set off a journey across America to the icy cold Alaska. Into the Wild is a biographical film of the journey young history and anthropology graduate Christopher McCandless takes as he sheds the conventional lifestyle to take on a self-sufficient vagabond lifestyle. The movie adopts a non-linear narrative structure with various segments of the film exploring Christopher’s hike north and the rest on his current predicament in the wilderness. It was an eye-opening movie as not only do I get invaluable life lessons but also get to see the rural side of America not portrayed by Hollywood.
It is tough to sum up a man’s life in a few sentences and these statements do not and could not represent Christopher’s life as a whole. Nonetheless, I shall try for the sake of the readers who do not know of the premise of the film. The story follows the real-life of Christopher who after uncovering the truth behind his parents’ marriage decides to escape to Alaska and live a life alone. He met some interesting people on the way and with his sense of adventure, has positively impacted their lives. Christopher or Alex, as he later calls himself, was successful in his expedition and he spent almost 113 days in the Northeastern State before succumbing to starvation or death by food poisoning.
I have heard great reviews about this film and many have regarded it as a must-watch inspiring film. Indeed it was but I was left very bewildered. How can one man be so dissatisfied with the circumstances of his life that he turns his back against the world to seek refuge in, oddly, another ‘side’ of the world? As seen in the film, Christopher left no messages for his family and friends and left without any cash. He only had the basics and a small collection of English books on him. Was he selfish for deserting his sister to carve out a life for himself or was he allowed the freedom to do so? At the end of the film, we saw a desperate Christopher struggling to adapt to the harsh Alaskan climate. It was here when he finally registers the idea that happiness can only be achieve when shared with others but mother nature has her own ways of punishing the good people; the 91-mile Teklanika River has swollen, making it very dangerous and impossible for Christopher to cross. I did not know the film’s synopsis prior to my viewing and this scene really shocked me as I was awaiting a happy ending.
The ending left a deep impression on me as I saw how a man’s quest and escape from his real life has sadly caused him his life. For Chris, his goal was to lead a simple life and not a life his parents expect of him yet in his dying moments, he realised that happiness can only be achieved when it is shared.You could see the emotional pain he has felt when he unraveled the truth and the “I think careers are a 20th century invention, and I don’t want one” quote just reveals how much disdain he has for the consumerist and materialistic culture in the world.
Into the Wild is really a great movie that gets you to stop and to reflect on your progress in life. It seems to inspire people to chase their freedom yet warns them of the dangers of closing themselves up from the world. It teaches people to be kind to strangers even though the world has not been treating you well.
To Chris McCandless and his free-spirited kindness: