last night i finally had the chance to rent the dvd and watch "into the wild." the movie was released last year, but i never had the opportunity to see it in a theatre. last month, march 4, the dvd was released. but try as i did, was unable to nab a copy at blockbuster that weekend. one thing led to another, and more than a month slipped by. my friend anthony, however, not only got a copy, but took the time to write up a great review. that was the weekend we ran the caumsett park 50k, so i amazed that he found the time to write it up!
"into the wild" based on the book by jon krakauer, which is, in turn, based on the story he wrote for outside magazine shortly after the world learned about what happened to christopher "supertramp" mccandless. krakauer, author of "into thin air: a personal account of the mt. everest disaster," became obsessed with the mcandless story and spent more than a year retracing what took place in his life for what ultimately became the book.
the story also became somewhat of an obsession for sean penn, who then spent the better part of 10 years getting the story filmed. his skill as a moviemaker is undeniable and the realism, the you are part of this story involvement that he paints in this movie, is breathtaking.
my view of this movie has been tempered by the more than 10 years that have elapsed since i first read the book. a lot has happened in that time to alter my original thoughts on christopher's tragic adventure. at first it seemed this was a real life version of "my side of the mountain." now it's more in line with hal holbrook's initial "lecture" to mcandless, "your 23 years old... don't think you should be making something of this life?" it almost makes me shiver with self-consciousness over how on the one had i see him as an innocent kid yearning to experience it all and on the other, a recklessly self-indulgent egoist - ignoring all offers of advice and assistance.
but just as holbrook warmed up to him, actually came to love him enough to want to adopt him, one can't help but get drawn into the boundless joie de vive that seems to surround mccandless - even up to and including the very moment on his death - by starvation - finds nirvana. it's more than a bit chilling to draw the parallel that penn, undoubtedly intends, to christ's wandering in the desert, or the east's "all life is suffering," then salvation. but the story, book, movie all work as a metaphor to that end. all these years after his tragic death in the wilderness, one can read the article "the cult of mccandless," and see how mccandless has become a modern day version of saint francis.
maybe that's getting a little too deep for a saturday morning. see what happens when i can't get out and do a long run! the bottom line, whether you want to see this movie as a metaphor or not, it's worth watching as a movie - and that's what it's all about!
update: check out "sean penn + jon krakauer" on sundance channel iconoclasts.
update: check out the "other" chris mccandless documentary: "the call of the wild"
on a related tangent, my friends are at bear mountain this morning, running the north face endurance challenge. anthony and brennan are doing the 50 miler, staci and emmy are doing the 50k. emmy may drop down to the half marathon and then pace anthony for the last 10 miles of his 50. i wish i could be over there, but there'll be plenty more races to run with them. i hope the weather holds out - it rained last night, but as i write this it's stopped (and hopefully done for the day).
good luck guys, and can't wait to read those soggy race reports and look at the muddy pictures!