82 – Into the Wild

Welcome to The Best Movies I’ve Never Seen! This is the part of the blog where I work my way through 100 films I’ve never seen that are generally considered to be great. You’re invited to watch along with me if you can find a copy or find it streaming. So grab some popcorn and let’s get started!

Into the Wild


Directed by Sean Penn

Quick synopsis… A young man gives up everything–including his trust fun and ties to a seemingly stable family–to lead a solitary life in the wild.

  • I’ve sort of known about this movie and the true story it’s based on for several years.
  • I just haven’t actually watched the movie.
  • But I’m somewhat familiar with Christopher McCandless because of the numerous YouTube videos that spend time diving into the mystery of what happened to him.
  • At least… I think it’s a mystery.
  • Am I remembering that part of it correctly?
  • I don’t know, it’s been a while since I actually watched one of those YouTube videos.
  • As the synopsis says, the movie tells the story of Chris McCandless, aka Alexander Supertramp, who gave up everything to just go live in the wilderness.
  • I have to wonder if he was truly prepared to face the hardships that life in the wilderness would entail.
  • But he finds an abandoned bus where he’s able to set up a pretty decent camp for himself.
  • We then flash back to Chris’ graduation from Emory University.
  • From here he plans to walk away from convention, donating most of his savings to charity and destroying credit cards and forms of identification.
  • Chris then sets out on a cross country road trip without informing his family of his plans.
  • When his car is caught in a flash flood, he abandons it.
  • At this point, Chris burns what’s left of his cash and begins calling himself Alexander Supertramp.
  • In July, following Chris’ graduation, when his parents haven’t heard from him in months, they drove back to Atlanta to pop in for a visit.
  • That’s when they discover that Chris moved out of his apartment in May.
  • When they return home, they discover that Chris had made an arrangement with the post office to hold his mail until August, then return it all to the senders.
  • In a voiceover, his sister, Carine, explains that he did this to buy himself some time to sneak away unnoticed.
  • Now going by Alex, Chris is picked up by a hippie couple in Northern California named Jan and Rainey.
  • Rainey confides in Chris that his relationship with Jan is pretty much on the rocks.
  • Chris manages to help them reignite the spark in their relationship before moving on.
  • Mixed in with his experiences, we get more voiceover from Carine, who gives us glimpses of the difficult family life they’ve both endured as they grew up.
  • She explains that the family was informed about Chris’ abandoned car by September and that all evidence pointed to Chris having left the car on purpose and that no foul play was suspected.
  • Unfortunately for Chris’ parents, this made them realize that Chris was actively trying not to be found.
  • Making his way up to South Dakota, Chris takes on a job working for a harvesting company where he meets Wayne.
  • He fills Wayne in on his plan to spend time in Alaska as well as his thoughts on society in general.
  • Meanwhile, Chris’ parents hire a private investigator after tax records reveal his life savings donation.
  • When Wayne is abruptly arrested, that spells the end of Chris’ career in South Dakota.
  • As Wayne is being taken away, he reminds Chris not to head to Alaska until spring.
  • Chris next plans to take a kayak down the Colorado River and does so in spite of having no experience and a park ranger warning him that he can’t do so legally without a permit.
  • He does it anyway, winding up in Mexico.
  • Chris has some trouble crossing back into the US on foot, but then winds up hopping a train to Los Angeles.
  • But he isn’t in LA for too long before deciding to head back into the wild.
  • When he takes a severe beating from railroad police, Chris ditches the trains and gets back to hitchhiking.
  • Every so often, we’re brought back to where Chris is living in his abandoned bus in Alaska.
  • We see that he has learned how to do well for himself until he is able to hunt a moose, which proves to be too much for him to preserve the meat and it spoils quickly.
  • This failure proves to be traumatic for him.
  • Returning to the flashback, Chris reconnects with Jan and Rainey when he arrives in Slab City.
  • Once the holidays pass, he’s on his way again.
  • Outside of Salton City, Chris meets Ron, an amateur leather worker whose family died in a car accident back when he was serving in the army.
  • Chris stays with Ron for a couple of months and learns the leather working trade before finally setting out for Alaska.
  • Ron has grown attached to Chris and offers to adopt him as his grandson.
  • Chris just tells him that’s something they can discuss when he gets back from Alaska.
  • The real tragedy comes when we return to Chris’ life in the abandoned bus.
  • Chris is running low on supplies and he comes to the realization that nature is harsh.
  • After all his time in solitude, he concludes that happiness is meant to be a shared experience and decides to return home to his family and friends.
  • However, when he reaches the stream he initially crossed before finding his abandoned bus, he finds that it is wider, deeper, and more violent thanks to the snow thaw.
  • Chris is forced to return to the bus and desperately forages for edible plants.
  • Sadly, he mistakes a poisonous plant for an edible one.
  • Chris becomes sick and realizes that he is dying.
  • He continues documenting his final experiences in his diary and writes a farewell note to the world before crawling into his sleeping bag to die.
  • I suppose I was wrong about the story being a mystery.
  • I guess I remembered those YouTube videos incorrectly.
  • Definitely a tragedy, though.
  • I really enjoyed the movie, in spite of knowing the sad outcome prior to starting it.
  • Having now seen Into the Wild, it currently ranks at 173 out of 2,256 movies on my personal Flickchart list.

Have you seen Into the Wild? If so, what did you think of it? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments! Next week’s movie is Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, which, if I remember correctly, is also based on a pretty sad story. Though I really don’t know much about that.


4 thoughts on “82 – Into the Wild

  1. My ex was way into this movie when we were together. He constantly talked about hitchhiking his way across the US and spending months camping in remote areas of the wilderness. As a longterm partner to this individual, you can only imagine how it made me feel hearing my boyfriend talk about his longing to be away from me… I guess that association left a pretty bad taste jn my mouth in regards to the movie.

    As for Hatchi: are you watching the original or the remake with Richard Gere?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. HEY! Welcome to my first blog post at this website. I reviewed the film so long ago. Back then, Kristen Stewart was still a fresh, new face on my radar and kinda hot. Then the whole Twilight craze started, and she somehow became a dopey pothead.

    I, honestly, did NOT like this movie as much as I thought I would. I would not put it anywhere near a top of any list. But, at the time, it DID inspire me to do more carefree travel, to take more risks and live off the land.

    That continues to be an “itch” I feel. But, I keep doubting my chances of survival. [I don’t care what people say about that televised Aussie going on wild adventures with celebrities and drinking their own urine. They are lucky to be alive.]

    This movie gave an example of how things can go wrong, even when you think you have it worked out. I feel like certain details were left out to keep the story lighter than it probably was. Yet, it has the power to spark the spirit of adventure. I could almost hear the jingle for those old Juicy Fruit gum commercials playing in the background as he dealt with that canoe and the rapids.

    I saw this with my dad, and that’s about as close as I’ve come to feeling comfortable with him outdoors. Unfortunately, we won’t be taking such a trip, him and I.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: What Are the Best Movies I’ve Never Seen? | The Confusing Middle

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