Movie Thoughts: Into the Wild

I had not read the Jon Krakauer book about the life of Christopher McCandless prior to seeing this film, but I will tell you that I really want to read it now. 

I thought this movie was very well done for what it was trying to be.  Sean Penn clearly did not want to deviate too much from the facts.  It actually has a very documentary feel about it (“Alex” breaks the 4th wall a few times by staring directly into the camera, as though to say “this really happened but it wasn’t really me, I’m ACTING!”).  It is also like a documentary in that it really doesn’t have a “story” like you would expect in a movie.  The structure is a little bit looser, it meanders around, bouncing between the “Magic Bus” in Alaska in 1992 with the story of how Chris/Alex got there, and childhood events that shaped his personality and outlook on life.  The narrator for the story is his younger sister.  Usually narration is a bad idea for a movie, but it works for ‘Into the Wild’ because of the docu-drama production. 

What really made me curious about the real story was that the filmmakers actually thanked Krakauer and the McCandless family for their help making the movie, something they did not have to do.  They could have taken the bestselling book and turned it into whatever kind of movie they wanted. 

I have the book checked out now. One of my co-workers had read it prior to seeing the film and she said that, of course, the book is better but that most of what was in the movie was from the book.  I can tell you the opening scene of the movie is straight out of the book. 

My suggestion: Read the book first and if you still want to see the movie, then see the movie.  Especially if you don’t know anything about the “story” of Chris McCandless.  If you doubt you will read the book, then watch the movie (but you’ll want to read the book afterwards anyway…I sorta wish I’d read the book first now).

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