A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
I’m sitting at a desk, watching Sean Penn’s fourth directed full-length feature on my computer thinking to myself “What am I doing with my life?”.
Watching an adaptation of one man’s real adventure from the 90’s can make one feel relatively inadequate at the end of it all, but on the other hand, it can be undeniably inspiring, and I believe it is the latter that rings truer with Penn.
Paying respect to one of the greater solo adventure tales of recent years, Sean Penn’s “Into The Wild” took over a decade to create, whilst being an arduous and challenging process along the way. The end result is quite impressive, but is it a masterpiece like many claim it to be?
Christopher McCandless appeared to be an incredibly unique and well spirited individual. Brought back to life through Emile Hirsch’s highly impressive portrayal, his story is fascinating, inspiring and special to say the least.
After graduating from university, McCandless decides to donate his savings to charity, abandon his hopes, destiny, possessions, family and life in general for the pursuit of independent solitude, hiking and venturing across various landscapes and environments with the end goal being to reach Alaska; the place in which he pictures himself living peacefully in the wilderness.
Motivated by writings of numerous authors and a strong disconnect to society and the corrupt nature of government, he finds himself seeking freedom and enlightenment. His travels see him cross paths with many inspiring figures that all do their part to guide, influence and shape the man McCandless will soon become.
The story is quite incredible; solo voyage tales of escape, discovery and spontaneity tend to always make the filmic transition with great ease as there is so much to work with.
There are films such as “Tracks” from 2013 however that tend to be a series of picturesque shots and not much else, and for the most part, “Into The Wild” could be seen to fit that same category.
The picture is visually enchanting; the shots are stunning and convey an incredibly rich sense of emotion and isolation, but there are numerous points where it could be confused for a tourism commercial.
Sure, McCandless’ struggles are explored in explicit detail throughout the film, but it appears as though the primary motive for “Into The Wild” was to be a visually driven picture for the most part.
The structure is something that works very well within the film. Paralleled time periods, flashbacks, voice-overs and montages dominate the film, and for a story such as McCandless’, it is exactly what it needs.
What inspires someone to just abandon everything? How does it affect those abandoned? What changes for them?
It is all explored thoroughly throughout the 2-and-a-half-hour picture.
For what is essentially a solo performance, Emile Hirsch gives a performance like no other. Having only seen him in a couple of pictures previously, it is obvious just how talented this young man is given his sheer devotion to the role at hand.
It’s unknown just how lifelike his performance was to the real life McCandless, but nevertheless, Hirsch gives it everything.
Everyone dreams of taking after Christopher McCandless and spontaneously leaving everything they once knew behind, but we never do. Christopher did it, embraced it, committed wholeheartedly and never looked back.
His journey is incredible, the film adaptation is impressive and the level of inspiration is at an atmospheric level.
It’s not a masterpiece, but it deserves it’s spot on the 500 list for sure.