INTO THE WILD
No Man Is an Island
Release Date: September 21, 2007
Starring: Emile Hirsch, Catherine
Keener, Hal Holbrook, Vince
Vaughn, William Hurt, Brian
Dierker, Kristen Stewart,
Marcia Gay Harden, and Jena
Genre: Drama/Wilderness Adventure
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 140 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Vantage/Viacom
Director: Sean Penn
Executive Producer: John J. Kelly, Frank
Hildebrand and David Blocker
Producer: Sean Penn, Art Linson and Bill
Writer: Sean Penn
Address Comments To:Sumner Redstone, Chairman/CEO
John Lesher, President
A Division of Paramount Pictures
5555 Melrose Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90038
Phone: (323) 956-2000
Fax: (323) 862-1212
Set in the early 1990s, INTO THE WILD stars Emile Hirsch as Christopher McCandless. Just graduated from Emory University in Atlanta with high honors, Chris tells his parents and sister that he’s thinking about law school. Chris, however, has other plans.
You see, Chris and his sister have discovered a secret about his bickering parents’ relationship that they never told their children: the parents aren’t really married. Thus, Chris has rejected their materialistic middle class lifestyle and forsaken society for the Romantic worldview of Thoreau.
Secretly, Chris donates the rest of his college fund to charity and takes his beat-up old Datsun across country. He plans to make his way eventually to Alaska, where he wants to just live alone in the wild. A flash flood in the desert moves Chris to abandon his car, burn the rest of his money and change his name to Alexander Supertramp.
As the movie shows Chris’s trek into the Alaskan wilderness in 1992, the movie switches back to the places and people he meets in South Dakota, Arizona, New Mexico, California, and Washington in his circuitous journey to Alaska. Meanwhile, narration by Chris and his sister reveals the things about his family and society that have been eating away at his soul.
Without giving away what happens, in the end, Chris finds that Nature can be beautiful but also incredibly dangerous and even ugly. In fact, he discovers that his Romantic notions of Nature and human civilization are not true. More importantly, however, Chris also finds God. Along the way, Chris learns the importance of forgiveness, the principle of love thy neighbor, and the truth that happiness is not real unless it is shared.
INTO THE WILD is a beautiful story based on true events written in a book by Jon Kracauer, which Sean Penn adapted himself. Though his character is not always likeable, Emile Hirsch does a superb job. There are also brilliant cameos by Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn and, last but not least, Hal Holbrook, who gives one of the best, most redemptive and heartbreaking performances in the last few years. The characters Chris meets as he travels in the mainland of the U.S.A. include two older hippie lovers who become a family to Chris, two young Nordic free spirits, a 16-year-old folk singer who develops a crush on Chris, an old Christian preacher living in the desert who talks to Chris about Jesus, and an elderly Catholic veteran who teaches Chris about forgiveness and God that will inspire Chris at the end.
INTO THE WILD includes some strong foul language and shots of very strong nudity in naturalistic settings. For instance, the camera shows Chris floating on his back completely naked down the Colorado River. Also, there are many shots of upper female nudity when Chris accidentally runs into a young Nordic woman with red hair and her blonde boyfriend sunning themselves along the banks of the Colorado River. Thus, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution regarding INTO THE WILD.
INTO THE WILD is about the spiritual journey of a troubled soul. As such, it is a tender, soulful movie that pierces the heart and invigorates the mind. There are parts of this movie, especially at the end, that are among the most inspirational moments in recent memory, often while being extremely poignant and bittersweet at the same time. INTO THE WILD is an amazing achievement. It is an adventure story worthy of Jack London.
INTO THE WILD is a bittersweet, profound, redemptive masterpiece. Amazingly, it is impressively directed and written by actor Sean Penn. Emile Hirsch is superb. There are also brilliant, heart-rending cameos by Catherine Keener and Hal Holbrook. INTO THE WILD is an amazing achievement. It is an adventure story worthy of Jack London. Even so, the movie contains some very strong foul language and extreme naturalistic nudity, so MOVIEGUIDE® advises strong caution.