Summary of Movie
In the movie, Into the Wild, a young man named, Christopher McCandless, decides to leave his family, friends, and possessions behind in order to gain spiritual knowledge and communication with nature. After graduating from Emory University, McCandless leaves his dysfunctional family and the life that his parents planned for him. On his trip, McCandless renames himself as “Alexander Supertramp” and travels westward. McCandlesss’ final destination is Alaska. He uses his beat-up car until it breaks down and hitchhikes to reach his final destination. Throughout his trip, McCandless made “stops along the way to experience America and its people” (Fandango). When McCandless finally reaches Alaska, he enjoys being alone in nature and is able to think through his family problems. However, towards the end of his trip, he forgives his parents and he realizes that he wants to go back to society and his family. Unfortunately, McCandless dies when he misinterprets the type of berries he eats and ends up eating poisonous berries.
Watch the trailer for Into The Wild below!
A Transcendental Movie
CHRISTOPHER MCCANDLESS EMBODIES TRANSCENDENTAL PRINCIPLES:
- McCandless writes, "two years he walks the earth. No phone, no pool, no pets, no cigarettes. Ultimate freedom...So now, after two rambling years comes the final and greatest adventure. The climatic battle to kill the false being within and victoriously conclude the spiritual revolution. No longer poisoned by civilization" (Into the Wild Discussion Guide). In his writing, McCandless is saying that being alone in Alaska will enable him to "kill" the person in him that society created and influenced and it will be replaced with someone who is one with nature. This represents the transcendental idea of individuality because McCandless goes on the trip to find his true self and not the one that society created. Also, it represents the transcendental idea of the importance of nature because McCandless uses nature in order to discover who he really is by allowing himself to clear his mind and think.
- McCandless says, "I'm going to paraphraase Thoreau here...rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness... give me truth" (Into the Wild Discussion Guide). In this quote, McCandless references transcendentalist, Thoreau. McCandless is saying that he doesn't want others to lie to him and act a certain way that doesn't represent who they really are. Instead, he wants people to be honest and be their true selves. This idea of being who you really are is an important concept in transcendentalism.
- McCandless also says "God's place is all around us, it is in everything and in anything we can experience" (Into the Wild Discussion Guide). This statement clearly embodies the transcendental idea of the over-soul and that God is in everyone and everything.
- Often times, director, Sean Penn, uses tight shots. The tight shot is generally used when Chris is writing in his journal about what happened each day of his journey in Alaska. The tight shot is used to show the viewers what Chris is writing in order to emphasize the important occurrences throughout his journey. Also, by using a tight shot, Penn shows emphasis on the individual and the present task at hand. This exemplifies the transcendental idea of living in the moment.
- Penn also uses aerial view shots to capture the vastness of the Alaskan forest compared to the small size of McCandless. This represents the idea of the over-soul because it shows that McCandless is a small part of nature.
- Lastly, Penn includes many shots of McCandless doing various dangerous activities. For example, kayaking through rapids, jumping off cliffs, and being close to wild animals. These scenes show that McCandless is not letting his fear stop him from living his life to the fullest, which is what the transcendentalists believed in.