Have you ever thought about leaving your present life behind in order to experience something totally new? Do you occasionally feel like you maybe want to drop out of the rat race, drop the heavy burden of life from the shoulders and just simply start it all over? This “something new” could be moving into a new city or country, changing a job or going on travels for an undefined period of time. How about, have you ever questioned some issues of today’s capitalized world and the consumer society that we are living in? That’s a very good thing if you have, because it may mean that although you are not fully happy and satisfied with your present life, you want to make things better and find new solutions and options, which leads eventually to a happier and richer life. Critical thinking also develops you as a person and helps you with creating your own opinions and world view. Although most of us just like to play with these ideas, there has been at least one person who have thought about these things so deeply that after getting enough of it all he made a change, a big change that would change many people’s lives, including his own, for good.
Some of you may already guess that I am talking about a movie called Into the Wild (2007). It is a breathtaking true story from the beginning of the nineties of a daring adventurer, Christopher McCandless, who just recently graduated from Emory University with outstanding grades in history and anthropology. Christopher was a well-liked student and served as the captain of the university cross-country team. His family life seemed to be in place, at least from outside – rather well-off, loving parents, a sister and a cozy house. There was something that bothered Christopher’s mind, though. He wasn’t happy with his life, although he had basically everything one could hope for. He didn’t appreciate materialism, he didn’t want a new car, although his parents offered him one as a graduation present, he didn’t want money so he decided to donate $24,000 to charity and threw away all of his bank cards. He took only the most important equipment with him in a backpack and started a journey of a life time to find “the ultimate freedom” that he was missing. The destination: Alaska.
Christopher hitchhikes throughout the USA and along the journey he encounters interesting people who are inspired by this young rebel: brave enough to question the society and choosing another path. The movie describes very well the pain and uncertainty of his worrying parents who don’t know where their son has disappeared. On the way to Alaska, Christopher works at a grain storage in South Dakota and later in a fast food restaurant to earn just enough to get by. He paddled along the Colorado River with a kayak and spent time in a hippie camp with people who had made the same decision as him – to leave the “normal” life behind. Finally, Christopher, or Alexander Supertramp as he later started calling himself, reaches his goal: the great wilderness of the North, Alaska.
He was trying to survive self-sufficiently by fishing, hunting and picking roots. However, this turned out to be harder than thought, and he gradually started losing weight and being in a really bad condition. At the end of the movie he finds a deserted school bus in the middle of nowhere and starts living there. His condition gets worse and worse and disorientation and weakness kick in. He has found it, the total freedom he was after. He has seen mesmerizing animals in the wild and he has seen the true beauty of nature. But now he is battling the life and death. Being already so disoriented he makes a mistake; he picks roots that were supposed to be edible and eats them. Later on he notices from a book that the plant is actually poisonous and eating it leads to starvation and death. Having confirmed his on death sentence the shaking Christopher tucks himself in a sleeping back and waits for the final freedom: heaven. He died in 1992 and was only 24 years old at the time.
Into the Wild is a very powerful movie. Although it is sad in many ways, it is very encouraging, deep and educating. It makes its viewers to think about the choices of life that are often taken for granted. It reminds us of the fact that there isn’t only one right way to live our lives and that we should make such choices in our lives that make us happy. The actor in Christopher’s role, Emile Hirsch, is so convincing that he makes you believe that he is the real Christopher McCandless. The director-producer Sean Penn does a really good job by offering such a great variety of emotional experiences to its viewers – sadness, pain, beauty, bravery, love… it’s all there! IMDb gives the movie a score 8.2/10 and in Empire Magazine’s 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time the movie ranks 473rd. Additionally, Eddie Vedder, the man behind much of the music in the movie was awarded a Golden Globe for the best original song. The music is like a cherry on top of the cake to make the watching experience perfect. This really is a must-watch, don’t miss it!