Movie Review: Into The Wild (4 of 5)

December 24, 2009 at 7:25 am

Shortly before deer season, Brigid loaned me the audio book, “Into The Wild” based on the true story of a modern (1990’s era) vagabond named Chris McCandless.  The book tells the captivating story based on journals left by McCandless and interviews with people he encountered during the two and a half years of his wandering adventure.  The picture described is a young, self-centered man from an upper middle-class family with an overinflated self-importance that was never-the-less charming and very personable.  A fairly typical twenty-two year old male with the belief that he alone truly gets it and that everyone else in the world is living a lie.

The 2007 movie of the same name is produced and directed by Sean Penn (yes, one and the same).  The movie is pretty faithful to the book, leaving out the stories of McCandless’ fellow wanderers, and adding a few touches that were not in the book including a few which contradict it.  For example, the movie ends with McCandless writing a letter with his final understanding of the truly important things in life and signing his name.  But the book details the difficulty in identifying his remains since he hadn’t left any signature other than Alexander Supertramp.  The movie also explains that he ate poison sweet pea plants where the book dismisses this theory and states that he ate the seed pods of the wild potato plant which were not recognized as poisonous by the reference book McCandless depended upon.

Still, the movie was pretty faithful to the book and enjoyable.  It had several art-house style touches without overdoing it to distraction.  While Emile Hirsch does a fine job and Vince Vaughn is surprisingly good, Hal Holbrook delivers a stand-out performance that makes the others pale in comparison.

Warning: there is quite a bit of profanity, some nudity (though not of a sexual nature) and a scene of McCandless butchering a moose that may affect those that get queasy over such things.

Entry filed under: Books, Movies/TV, Reviews. Tags: .

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