into the wild

in april 1992 a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of mt. mckinley. his name was christopher johnson mccandless. he had given $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself. four months later, his decomposed body was found by a moose hunter...

that's what it says on the cover of the book written by jon krakauer. i'm not giving away anything because it's not a story about christopher's life: it's a story about his death and the life that was taken. the film version of into the wild is faithfully directed by sean penn. when i read the book, it quickly became one of my favorite books of all time. even though i knew the outcome, there was so much tension and drama on every page. i was gripped. what's so interesting about the story is christopher mccandless himself. a young man so principled with his own idea of morality. a young man so desperate to experience life.

those who have read the book seem to have two different opinions of him. one group believes he was a selfish, stupid, careless kid who caused his family incredible grief and ultimately committed suicide. another group believes him to be a very smart and intuitive kid who was after something bigger than this life, something higher than material goods and human pettiness, who touched people's lives, and who ultimately made a fatal mistake. i've got a different opinion of him, but i won't say it because the beauty of the book and the way krakauer wrote it, is in the way it leaves it open for your own interpretation.

now, the movie however sort of robs you of that choice. sean penn, if you have heard any of his political rants, is very one-sided and is very vocal about his opinions. and here, he's no different. he directs the movie, a movie he's wanted to make for ten years but couldn't without christopher's family signing off on it, with plenty of passion and love for the subject. the only thing is, he shows christopher off as almost jesus-like, which i think is a mistake. he also does some very heavy-handed things in the end of the film which i think sort of takes away from the power of it. what penn does is focus so completely on what makes christopher great, he doesn't include any of the negative aspects of chris - the selfish kid, the naive kid, the hurtful and spiteful kid. i think if he had, it would have made a much better movie. personally, i love a hero with faults. penn makes christopher's story cut and dry, black and white, and that's a shame. he sort of forces his opinion on you, and i sort of resented the film for that. i also had a general problem with the movie where i felt hardly any emotion. it may be due to the fact that i had just read the book a couple weeks earlier. the book drained me emotionally, which is perhaps why the movie comes off as kind of lacking. the film has been well received by critics and audiences alike, however.

the film also has a great soundtrack by eddie vedder. vedder shows off some great original work as well as some awesome covers.

i must say that all in all, i do identify quite a bit with christopher. i understand his desire to experience something beyond this life. i understand his frustration with his father as well as society. i also understand his wanderlust. as much as i love city life, sometimes i think it will swallow me whole, which is why sometimes solitude and being comfortable with being alone is a good thing. the big different though is that i don't have the fortitude that he has of his principles, and ultimately, despite enjoying solitude, i eventually find my way back. unfortunately for christopher, he couldn't.

the following is the video for the cover "hard sun" as well as "society," a video some fan made with pics of pearl jam. enjoy.