Happiness is only real when it’s shared. Well, in the long-term many of us might agree, but Christopher McCandless didn’t and so his journey to Alsaka began. This film is a moving account of McCandless’s journey — if you will excuse the pun — into the wild. McCandless was an American wanderer who died near Denali National Park in August 1992 after hiking alone into the Alaskan wilderness with little food or equipment. Author Jon Krakauer wrote a book about his life, Into the Wild, which was published in 1996.
You’re likely to feel two things about McCandless; that he is courageous in his venture into the unknown — a tragic hero — and that he was an utter fool, who was deluded by his own idealism and through his own naivity, fails to see that not everyone’s lives, love and marriages turns out like that of his parents. After witnessing his mother and father’s tumultuous relationship McCandless repels a middle class upbringing. On graduating he almost immediately dismisses the predictable middle class job and lifestyle and gives away his $24,000 savings to charity.
McCandless feels the only way to be happy is to be alone and to do as he pleases discovering new things. Travelling under the name of Alex Supertramp, MCandless craves what he calls “freedom”, but it seems he is looking for freedom from emotion rather than the physical feeling of simply wanting to do what he wants. Ironically, in his quest to avoid emotional attachment, MCCandless forges some strong relationships with people who deeply care for him. The film moves at a fairly decent pace, moving from the present adventure in Alaska to other parts of McCandless’ journey through the US during the previous 18 months or so. It holds interest and as I knew nothing about McCandless, the ending did come as a bit of a shock, which for me gave it an added impact. Perhaps I am myself naïve to think that he would make it through?
I also found the film in a sense unnerving and almost uncomfortable as I would detest to be so detached from society. I can’t bear more than a few hours alone in my little house in Clapham, let alone months on end in the depths of the wilderness with nothing better than a grizzly bear for company. There is no doubt that the film makes you ask questions about life, happiness and freedom. What is freedom? I guess it depends on who you are, what you want from life and your life experiences.