...engaging and discerning culture, as a way of life...

March 06, 2008

Into the Wild - 7

I was skeptical of this story when I heard about it, first as a book by Jon Krakauer and then as a film adaptation directed by Sean Penn. Stories of this type- people going to live "back" in nature, can get a lot of things wrong and be rather off putting especially if they simply reject modern life. One possibility is to pit nature as inevitably violent to man. Another option is to pit man as inherently violent against nature. Hyperbole makes for a diatribe rather than a story. At the same time, if the film contains no conflict it tends up being boring. What this film does beautifully is to ask good questions. This relationship of how we are to live in the world is a necessary question in order to get the audience to think about the complexity and nuance of what the good life is. The film is nicely divided up into chapters that show how Christopher McCandless arrived at his end (in both senses of the word). His story is one of a searching for wisdom. He got a college degree, he came from a "good" family, but all of that did not add up to who he thought he was or could be.
It would have been easy for this story to have been turned into one of a martyr- an idealist killed by a materialist society. Instead Chris becomes an inquirer into the human condition, something everyone can learn from and should probably try to pursue. This film makes a good discussion piece on the long list of huge existential, but real, questions about life and living and the wisdom and foolishness that are revealed.
The film is nicely accented by the soundtrack written by Pearl Jam's Eddie Vedder.


John Baldauff said...

I hate Eddie Vedder and want to beat him up. That aside, I still want to see this film.

~greg said...

Seems quite a few people I know hate Vedder. I think he does a decent job of putting music in film...he also contributed to Dead Man Walking.
Is it his politics?