Friday, October 19, 2007

Into the Wild

Sean Penn has a new film out, telling the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who graduated from college, gave away his life savings, and hitchhiked across the country, ending up in the Alaskan wilderness, living with little if any human contact. He meets up with a number of people along the way, including a few who act as surrogate parents. The story reminded me of a darker version of the Newberry-Award-winning novel My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George, in which Sam Greeley, a high school student, runs away to live on his grandfather's disused farm in upstate New York. Sam Greeley had a penknife, an axe, a ball of cord, fire-making tools, and a small amount of money, but he learns to hunt and fish and harvest wild edible plants. Christopher McCandless had a rifle, some matches, and a few provisions, but was even more on his own, much deeper in the wilderness.

Into the Wild has been in limited release for almost a month, but today it begins its general release. The ads, which you have seen if you watched Daily Show and Colbert Report the last couple of days, focus on the indescribable sense of freedom McCandless feels when he is truly on his own, but the film also chronicles his travels and travails. Emile Hirsch turns in a gripping performance as McCandless, with Jena Malone (Saved!), Vince Vaughn, William Hurt, and the ever-amazing Hal Holbrook supporting. The scenery, from the east coast to the midwest to the southwest to the middle of nowhere, Alaska, is stunning, and the story is compelling. As the TV ads suggest, it's a good way to step out of the pressures and politics of 2007 for 2½ hours; strongly recommended.

Technorati tags: , , ,