Into The Wild (2007): A Great Films review

 

“No longer to be poisoned by civilization, he flees and walks alone upon the land to become lost in the wild.” He carves these words on a wooden piece inside a “magic” bus he stumbles upon in the middle of nowhere. It is freezing cold but he does not care. He is at a point in his life where he is the happiest and most alive than he's ever been. He detests the cities with their materialistic citizens. The roads with their pollution and disregard to nature and its beauty. Instead, he embraces the wilderness and its ecosystem. It is in the wilderness where Christopher McCandless truly belongs.
 

Directed by the steady and assured hands of Sean Penn, Into The Wild is a remarkable road trip film starring Emile Hirsch as Christopher McCandless. It tells the true story of McCandless as he sets across a journey of self discovery out into the wilderness, meeting a whole host of characters along the way, including a memorable encounter with an old man, played by Hal Holbrook. It is an adventure film filled with some of the most beautiful cinematography you will ever find on film.

 
This would have been a very ordinary and average film had it not been for the exemplary performance that Emile Hirsch gives. He is quite extraordinary in the way he totally blends into his character. He IS Christopher McCandless. We never doubt that for a single moment throughout this picture. He gives his character much heart and emotion and does it with such ease. The scenes in which he completely absorbs and admires the wilderness are especially memorable. It will be very difficult for Hirsch to give a stronger performance than this one in his future roles.
 

He is joined by an excellent supporting cast including then-unknown Kristen Stewart, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener, Marcia Gay Harden and Hal Holbrook. However, it is Holbrook who provides the most memorable supporting performance. He plays Ron Franz, an elderly man who has lost everything in his life and decides to live the remainder of it alone in his house. However, his meeting with McCandless drastically changes both of their lives forever.

 
 

It should be noted with much appreciation the way Sean Penn directs this film. He is so assured and confident that it makes one truly appreciate every scene in this film without ever feeling bored or overwhelmed. He takes great care with the subject matter and delivers a heartwarming and hypnotic film. It is a film that takes the viewer along for the voyage. Penn is the one who makes it all seem effortless. A sign of a filmmaker who is completely in tune with his art and not afraid to take calculated risks.

 
The music in the film adds another amazing element. The songs are performed by Eddie Vedder, lead singer and guitarist of legendary band Pearl Jam. These are songs that celebrate and embrace the wilderness just like Christopher McCandless. Standout songs are 'Guaranteed' and 'Long Nights', the latter is especially haunting.
 
 

One should not think of Into The Wild as an ordinary film. It is so much more. It is a film of self-discovery combined with moments of true anguish and pain. A film that is filled with magnificent and poetic scenes of nature's beauty. A film that sends many messages to the viewer without being preachy. I enjoy revisiting this film as it has the power to meditate. I cannot fully explain how it affects me like that but it just does. Into The Wild is a film that lingers in the mind long after the credits role. A mark of a truly great cinematic experience.

 

Trailer:

YouTube Preview Image

 

Director:

Sean Penn

Outstanding performances:

  • Emile Hirsch (as Christopher McCandless)
  • Hal Holbrook (as Ron Franz)

Runtime:

2 hours and 28 minutes

Rating:

R

Genres:

Adventure / Biography / Drama