By Spencer Stechman (Phoenix, Arizona)


The Search for Enlightenment

I always find it difficult to comprehend movies like Into the Wild. A character with such a motive and a drive for impact that only he or she can understand. Well with this film the motive is living alone in Alaska for a couple months, something I could never do. Into the Wild is based on the life of Christopher McCandless and the nonfiction bestseller that goes by the same name. Christopher is a young 24-year-old that recently graduated college. He’s a bright student and is knowledgeable in a lot of things to know. Yet out of nowhere, and by the shock of his parents he leaves home and never reaches out to them again. He burns all traces of identification and donates his trust fund to Oxfam to set out on this adventure that he sets out for himself.

McCandless is played by Emile Hirsch and along his way he comes across such diverse people like a farmer from South Dakota (Vince Vaughn) a sixteen-year-old folk singer (Kristen Stewart) and an unforgettable wise elderly man (Hal Holbrook). Chris has a knack for having good impressions with the people he meets, everyone he does meet seems to open up their heart to him and wish they were more like him. Yet the question you’re wondering at this point is, why did a guy like him leave everything he had and just go off for Alaska?

Some of it can be for interpretation but Chris has gone through a lot already. With his parents constantly fighting and arguing and realizing who he truly is to them, Alaska could be his motive for running away. But I don’t think he wants to run away from anything, I think he wants to run towards something. He is always talking about how materialistic things make us humans worse for who we are and how it brings us down. How we shouldn’t rely on people’s affection or having the newest car or the most money to define us for who we are. In Alaska, Chris will be away from that and closer with himself, for that is what truly makes him happy.

There rarely isn’t a scene without Emile Hirsch and that’s for good reason, he’s the main character for a reason and nails his role. His emotion is what seals the deal for me, I’m smiling with him when he’s happy and I’m in tears when he’s lost and confused. This movie makes you want to go out there and live your best life no matter what circumstance. The journey isn’t easy but it sure is beautiful. The cinematography is untouchable, the nature shots from all over the western side of the United States is gorgeous and perfectly captured. The soundtrack is great and sets the mood perfectly with its slow acoustic guitar vibe. Eddie Vedder is featured on some of the songs and the tone with his vocals go hand in hand.

Overall Sean Penn puts this movie very well together and I really do like a lot of it. If there was one thing that I do have to talk about it however it’s some of the casting for the roles. Neither Vince Vaughn nor Kristen Stewart sell their roles for me and it’s a head scratcher for me. I would recommend this movie though, it’s worth your time. Trust me.

Rating: 4/5


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