Over summer I decided to start watching this enormous stack of movies that I had bought on DVD, some even years ago, but I had never gotten round to watching them. See, the thing is, if I don’t watch a movie right after I bought it, it goes into a drawer, or sits on a shelf until I ‘feel like watching’ it again.
One of the movies I finally got around to watching this summer was Into the Wild. I immediately fell in love with it. Directed by Sean Penn, based on the book by Jon Krakauer, which is again based on the writings of Christopher McCandless. Here’s a snippet from IMDB:
“A young man leaves his middle class existence in pursuit of freedom from relationships and obligation. Giving up his home, family, all possessions but the few he carried on his back and donating all his savings to charity Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) embarks on a journey throughout America. His eventual aim is to travel into Alaska, into the wild, to spend time with nature, with ‘real’ existence, away from the trappings of the modern world.”
McCandless is played by Emile Hirsch, also known from Milk, Lords of Dogtown and Alpha Dog. Troubled by his parents’ obsession with materialistic ideals, McCandless decides to break with everything he has ever known to live in the wild. This back story of how McCandless grew up in a home where keeping up appearances was the norm, is neatly woven into the main storyline of his travels north.
The story of his travels is told through his encounters with people: traveling hippies, a grain farmer, the Danish couple on the shores of the Colorado river, and an old man. The characters serve as a mirror for McCandless: his encounters only make him want to break more out of regular society. None of the characters can talk him out of going to Alaska, yet they all try in one way or another.
All this is shown against the backdrop of the magnificent beauty of US nature. The movie’s strength lies in the great views of the outdoors: towering mountains, wild rivers and plains reaching as far as the eye can see with a sunset as a perfect backdrop. The movie clearly shows the majesty of nature and tries to portray how we, as humans, are just a tiny part in its existence.
It is this majesty of nature that gives the viewer a clear idea of what is to come of Christopher McCandless. His ideals are intriguing and few have gone to such great lengths to defy the Western modern ideals of consumerism and materialism. It is this combination of philosophy & the portrayal of nature as majestic that gave me food for thought and greatly impressed me and it puts this movie right at the top of my favorite movies list.
Question: Which movie last gave you food for thought?