Friday, September 11, 2009

#473: Into the Wild (2007)

Director: Sean Penn
Cast: Emile Hirsch

Chris McCandless's adventures were first immortalized by Jon Krakauer. Penn's adaptation of the non-fiction bestseller follows the book accurately and with great passion. McCandless graduated from Emory in 1990, and soon after, he disappeared. He donated all of his money to a charity and set off to the west, and when he couldn't go any further, he headed north. With the aid of strangers, he made his way for his great Alaskan adventure, where he lived for over 100 days before his death.

I didn't even know this was a nonfiction going into the film - I always leave my (little) research until after I watch and make impressions of my own. It was a big shock to me. The most disturbing part of the film is Penn's admirable view of McCandless throughout his always-unprepared journey to find true happiness, away from his parent's pride and bank accounts. It really seemed pretty typical - a rebellious young man trying to find a better life. That type of story rarely turns for the worst - at least in the fiction world, which I've been stuck in for many, many years.

Emile Hirsch's acting is incredible. It's easy to get a strong sense for McCandless, and there's no way to not like him. This film would really be nothing without Hirsch. There's no question he's going to be making his way up in Hollywood. His first big-named flicks are Lords of Dogtown (#417 on the list) and Alpha Dog, and his since worked with Penn again in Milk. He also starred in Speed Racer, but we can pretend that didn't happen.

Great, serious flick.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):
  • Emile Hirsch lost 40 pounds to play his role.
  • Shot entirely on location.
  • No stunt-men or doubles were used for Emile Hirsch, including the scenes where Chris goes through river rapids, confronts a grizzly bear or rock-climbs.
  • The role of Jim Gallien, the Alaskan who gave Chris the rubber boots in the opening scene, is played by the real Jim Gallien.
  • The watch Emile Hirsch wears in the movie is Christopher Johnson McCandless' real life watch, given to him as a present.
  • According to the DVD behind the scenes, the moose that is shot and killed by Christopher was actually roadkill found on the Alaskan highway.

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