Screenplay and Directed by Sean Penn.
"...a powerful and poetic hymn to America...[a] sweeping, sensitive and deeply affecting adaptation of Jon Krakauer's best-selling book. Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post
|Into the wild is based on a true story and the best selling book by jon krakauer. After graduating from emory university in 1992, top student and athlete christopher mccandless abandons his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to alaska to live in the wilderness.|
"A genuine odyssey: a journey to self-knowledge. Michael Sragow, Baltimore Sun
"...a beautiful film. Penn meticulously shot in the actual locations McCandless visited, and Eric Gautier's cinematography is breathtaking... Pete Vonder Haar, Film Threat
"...an unusually soulful and poetic movie that crystallizes McCandless in all his glittering enigma... Scott Foundas, The Village Voice
"Penn's direction is amazingly sharp and intuitive, full of masterful touches that give an epic dimension and scope to the parable. William Arnold, Seattle Post-Intelligencer
Jon Krakauer's bestselling nonfiction book about the life of Chris McCandless is finally brought to the big screen in INTO THE WILD. Directed by Sean Penn, the film opens in 1992, when Chris (Emile Hirsh) is a promising college graduate. Shortly after graduation, Chris gives his life savings to charity, burns all of his identification, and begins hitchhiking across America, his ultimate goal being Alaska. Citing passages from his heroes, Thoreau and Jack London, he is determined to escape society and get back to nature. He blows from town to town like a tumbleweed, hopping trains, camping with aging hippies (Catherine Keener and Brian Dierker), working briefly with a farmer (Vince Vaughan), and befriending a widowed leather worker (Hal Holbrook). He revels in his newfound freedom, but meanwhile, his parents (Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt) have no idea where he is, and are sick with worry. While their relationship with Chris was already troubled, they are nonetheless devastated by his disappearance. Chris's sister, Carine (Jane Malone), narrates much of the film, offering her reflections on the effect Chris's absence has on his family. Chris finally makes it to Alaska, where he hikes out to a remote campsite and discovers an abandoned bus. He manages to survive there for a few months living off the land, but he eventually runs out of supplies and becomes trapped, leading to his tragic end.INTO THE WILD bounces around chronologically, jumping back and forth from the start of Chris's journey to his final few weeks living aboard the bus. This works to great effect as the storylines begin to merge and the tension and dread mount, and we see the fate that will eventually befall Chris. Penn obviously had great admiration for his subject, and while the film appears to differ from the book in places, it nevertheless paints a heartbreaking portrait of this young man's short but fascinating life.
Into the Wild - DVD Review
By: Chris Cabin
filmcritic.com DVD Reviews
Published on: 12/5/2008 4:33 PM
One day, you just pack up your essentials in a backpack, do away with all forms of identification, and set off on the road to find that piece of blue sky that’s been missing from your puzzle. Such is the task taken on by young Chris McCandless (Emile Hirsch) when he set out in the summer of 1990 hoping to reach the blustery ether of Alaska. Abandoning a life of charm, money, and an equally rebellious sister (Jena Malone), McCandless walked, hitched, and explored America for two years before he died from starvation and partial poisoning on the outskirts of Denali National Park in Alaska....read the full review
Cast & Crew
||Golden Globe, Eddie Vedder, et. al., Best Original Score - Motion Picture
||Golden Globe, Into the Wild, Best Original Song - Motion Picture
||Grammy, Eddie Vedder, Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media
New York Times
"[T]hough the film's structure may be tragic, its spirit is anything but. It is infused with an expansive, almost giddy sense of possibility, and it communicates a pure, unaffected delight in open spaces, fresh air and bright sunshine."
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "[T]he film is a haunting and moving experience, highlighted by evocative original music by Eddie Vedder."
"[W]ritten and directed with magnificent precision and imaginative grace....It's an intensely physical movie..." -- Grade: A-
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "Penn, in tandem with the superb cinematographer Eric Gautier, captures the majesty and terror of the wilderness in ways that makes you catch your breath."
4 stars out of 5 -- "[A]n eco-road movie that refreshes and invigorates. Exquisitely shot, robustly acted and deeply felt, it's a potent ode to wanderlust and human pluck."
4 stars out of 5 -- "Penn has evidently soaked up his Terrence Malick. But with its thoughtful pace and loose structure, his depiction of the McCandless odyssey also recalls Lynch's THE STRAIGHT STORY."
4 stars out of 5 -- "As the wide-eyed hero, Hirsch is excellent....This is Penn's big auteur statement on our times....It has more soul in its sprawl than any other film this year."
Sight and Sound
"With its swooping hunger for landscape and new experience, it plunges headlong into the giddy, passionate convictions of its hero..."
Ranked #3 in Rolling Stone's "10 Best Movies Of 2007" -- "This is personal filmmaking at its soaring best. Penn honors his subject and the courage it takes to push boundaries."
5 stars out of 5 -- "Director and book adapter Sean Penn has the greatest eye for composition of any successful actor turned film-maker since Clint Eastwood..."
Wall Street Journal
"Sean Penn's fascinating screen version of the Jon Krakauer book of the same name....[Stewart] gives an agreeably vital performance that could still be predictive of things to come in her career."
ReelViews 9 of 10
Into the Wild combines two popular genres: the road trip and the struggle of man versus nature. Both are handled well by Penn and their interweaving is effective. As the movie begins, Chris (Emile Hirsch) has already reached his goal: the unspoiled Alaskan wilderness...Flashbacks are employed to show how he got there. Meanwhile, interspersed with these lengthy glimpses of the past, the narrative in the present moves forward, gradually straying into darker territory. Chris' story is both heroic and cautionary; brave and foolish. Penn gets this. He does not lionize the character or his actions. He shows admiration for a man who would go to these lengths in pursuit of a dream and a cause. In the end, however, there is a simple lesson to be learned: happiness is meaningless unless you have someone to share it with. The movie ends on a poignant note...Into the Wild is a long motion picture, clocking in at nearly 150 minutes. But the strength and breadth of its material earns it the extended running time. It's about many things, and makes pointed comments about the ridiculousness of a society where bureaucracy and the rat race have become so cumbersome that they crush the pleasure out of living. The final truth it distills reveals something crucial about what it means to be human - something that Chris doesn't realize until it's too late.
- James Berardinelli
Chicago Sun-Times 10 of 10
Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild, which I read with a fascinated dread, tells the story of a 20-year-old college graduate who cashes in his law school fund and, in the words of Mark Twain, lights out for the territory. He drives west until he can drive no farther, and then north into the Alaskan wilderness. He has a handful of books about survival and edible wild plants, and his model seems to be Jack London, although he should have devoted more attention to that author's "To Build a Fire"...Sean Penn's spellbinding film adaptation of this book stays close to the source...This is a reflective, regretful, serious film about a young man swept away by his uncompromising choices. Two of the more truthful statements in recent culture are that we need a little help from our friends, and that sometimes we must depend on the kindness of strangers. If you don't know those two things and accept them, you will end up eventually in a bus of one kind or another. Sean Penn himself fiercely idealistic, uncompromising, a little less angry now, must have read the book and reflected that there, but for the grace of God, went he. The movie is so good partly because it means so much, I think, to its writer-director. It is a testament like the words that Christopher carved into planks in the wilderness.
- Roger Ebert