Into the Wild

This movie isn’t due out 'til 2007, but it’s an unusual experience for me, so I thought I’d give it a mention.

Into the Wild is a non-fiction account of Chris McCandless, who died trekking along the Stampede trail in Alaska, back in '92.

Chris and I were good friends in college. After his death, I was interviewed about him for an article in the New Yorker magazine, and then was surprised to learn of the book accounting his story written by Jon Krakauer, more famously known for Into the Blue and Under the Banner of Heaven. Frankly, I suspect Chris would be some combination of pissed and bemused at the prospect of the publicity, but, well, he’s got no say at this point.

As freshmen in college, back in '86-'87 we filmed this goofball horror spoof called The Coming of Cthulhu, mostly ad-libbed, and used as an excuse to chat up some coeds used as Chthulhu’s victims in the film. Chris was the protagaonist and is on camera through most of the video. I gave a VHS copy of the tape to his family at his memorial service back in '92.

I hadn’t thought much about these events over the last 10 years, but just last week I was contacted by a hollywood research company asking for me to authorize use of my video footage to be adapted and re-created by Sean Penn for the upcoming film, as Penn will also be directing.

I made a point of contacting Chris’ sister before acquiescing. Penn has apparently been pursuing the project for 10 years, but has not pushed the McCandless family out of respect for their wishes. Everytime Krakauer publishes another bestseller, the family gets more inquiries about film or TV rights to Chris’ story. At this stage, Chris’ sister would rather Penn make the film before some hack goes and makes a production without the family’s input.

I’m about to sign off on the release, I’ve got no interest in angling for anything out of the movie studio. It’s just a bit surreal to hear that Penn and this movie studio have been poring over this ridiculously corny video tape.

Fuck that noise, play hardball and get your points.

Wow, mono, I loved that book. That’s pretty exciting that Sean Penn is doing it. I’d tend to agree with Chris’ sister, although I can’t imagine many hacks are chasing that particular story.

BTW, my favorite filmed version of Into the Wild was Grizzly Man. Timothy Treadwell reminded me a lot of what I know about Chris McCandless from the book.


I can’t find any other thread for this movie. I just saw it on Blu-ray. Absolutely beautiful movie. It captured so wonderfully the beauty of the areas that Chris McCandless journeyed through, and the people that he met. Great, great film.

(Also: Very interesting anecdote mono. I can’t believe you actually knew him in college.)

I was very surprised with how much I liked this. It was beautiful all throughout, though I didn’t sympathize too much with Chris. I thought he was really selfish in the movie, and I felt really bad for everyone who loved him.

Is it common for people to go to Alaska and hang out in the wilderness like this? 2 movies in about as many years about this kind of thing, both being true stories, seems like a trend.

Eduardo: What was the other movie?

As for sympathy for Chris: Yeah, I don’t know, I hated the fact that he didn’t contact his sister even. To me that was the worst thing he did. On the other hand, with all the friends he made as he was journeying across the country, clearly he was a likable guy, so I do have some sympathy for him. But damn, he should definitely have contacted at least his sister.

As an Eagle Scout, Chris McCandless makes me so angry.

I didn’t like the movie, although I did like the book.

As to the guy’s adventures, well, it doesn’t surprise me that he made friends with all these people. These are people who by design live outside the lines. I’ve never associated with them, but my experience with other outside the line types leads me to believe that as long as he wasn’t aggressive towards them, they would have no trouble befriending him.

In other words, that they were his friends and concerned about him reflects their own qualities, not his. The way he did his thing, without regard for how it’d impact anyone else who cared for him(friend or family)- that is the part that speaks volumes about him.

Grizzly Man. The stories are extremely similar.

Same. I read the book, didn’t see the movie. I’m in the group who wonders why the story of someone who who was dumb enough to wander into the wilderness with no preparation, equipment or knowledge of what to do there was so popular. It was like reading about a skyjumper who jumped out of an airplane without a parachute…on purpose.

Sad story, but jeez.

well, why would anyone want to watch a play were two people fall in love and then kill themselves? Guess people just like tragic stories.

Great analogy. I enjoyed it because it was a compelling story. Knowing the result in advance only enhanced the story, I thought.

Besides, if the movie is to be believed (I haven’t read the book), it was only after he was in Alaska and all alone and writing in his journal, that he realized the value of having other people in your life to share your happiness. There’s a key scene in the movie where he’s trying to convince an old man that he’s befriended, that life is more than human interactions. That he should get joy from all the scenery and air and sun around him. It’s only when his life is wasting away that he reflects and sees the value of human bonds.

Yeah, I get how it was portrayed. Maybe it happened that way. But one thing I do recall from the book was someone’s characterization of his logbook when in Alaska, after the first week or so, not as one filled with deep thinking on relationships, but one full of writings about finding food. Did the movie show him having an epiphany? I don’t recall the book showing that.

He was a naive kid who thought he was immortal … certainly not unusual for young guys. He did a dumb thing and died doing it. It is sad…truely. I don’t see the poetry in it, but I can respect the opinion of those who do.

MOVIE SPOILER *****************

It did. And I figured it might not be in the book, since in the movie he doesn’t write it down in his journal. Instead he writes it between lines in the book that he’s currently reading. I believe he wrote down “Happiness is only real when shared”. It might not be something real Chris McCandless wrote down, but it really fit the arch of the movie perfectly and brought together everything that had passed up to that point.

When you know a lot about living in the woods, and you see a guy do this… it just screams at you.


But…he wanted to get lost.

I enjoy getting lost as well, but I at least carry the bare essentials for survival, so when being “Lost” isn’t fun anymore or If I get sick or something I can look at a map and find my way back.

Check out Gerry if you want to see a couple of guys (Casey Aflleck and Matt Damon) get lost without supplies.

Also, the scene where Chris kills that moose is one of the reasons I don’t touch meat anymore. So sad.

He didn’t even get lost. He wasn’t that far from the road …close enough to it where someone had apparently been able to drive a school bus. He tried to get back at one point, but the river level had risen too high to cross by then. That just makes it even more pathetic. He went “into the wild” and died of starvation in a dilapidated school bus within a day’s walk of a road.

If you’ve every done any backpacking in the high peaks region of the adorondaks you would know that the woods are full of morons. An almost endless parade of them. ;)