What the hell happened? Weren’t we all pretty much tired of the excruciating urban plastic driven life back in 2007? Did we all forget the dangers of rigid society structures and the lack of meaning inherent in a safe yet highly hierarchical life style, where the individual becomes no more than a piece of the system? Wasn’t the real zeitgeist about becoming one self? Are those existentialist books still selling like bread in the bookstores? So many questions… And I remember the impact that Into the Wild had in me when I first watched. Questions layered, answers given, it was a life changing experience… nowadays… I guess I know better.
Judging by the self revelation of the protagonist Chris, by the end of the movie, I guess director Sean Penn had a similar reflection after making his way into the life of this crazy kid who wanted to find true meaning in a world that seemed bend on delivering tons of passive aggressive damage and little real enlightenment. What’s that you ask? Well, he’s just a kid! And I get it, I’ve been there. People want space, they search for meaning and it’s true also… meaning is everywhere, trick is to choose. I mean, there are a number of hints throughout the movie that serve to show us the real conflict here, but let’s give a chance to Chris to express it better… he says:
“Some people feel they don’t deserve love, they walk into empty spaces trying to close the gaps on their past”.
I mean… let’s face it, who other than a very depressive person dives deep into philosophy trying to find some logical support to their own existence, especially after witnessing the devastating effects that society style of life has on people, at this point we zone in parents. Chris sees them as enemies, he even ridiculize them with phony descriptions fitting some sociological theory about the subject he hates so much, the life he’s been pushed to follow. But to me all of this masquerades some deeper truth, that Chris actually hates his own existence, unable to accept the fact that human beings are essentially a beehive, I mean who can actually cope with such an idea!
So, I don’t think is necessary to talk much about the plot, I have the feeling most people have already watched this movie. Let’s just say that it focuses on Chris and his decision to leave all of his secured life behind in an attempt to “be in the moment” as he says, and that to me it feels more like trying to control the thoughts penetrating his mind (depression style) but anyways… He leaves everything behind and actually finds meaning in others, meeting a bunch of people close to his way of thinking, but unable to stay with either of them because of his inherent weakness, Chris is unable to be happy because of his family past, to him the bare feeling of being part of a family means pain, so he escapes, time and time again from people that actually cares deeply for him, until fucking it up and getting trapped in Alaska, like a million miles from people.
Thinking about Captain Wonderful, last movie we spoke about, I guess in there the deep issue is solved by means of family, right? because being alone in the middle of Alaska, Chris quickly realizes how boring it is to not having anyone to share. Not soon after this revelation, that life is better spent with others, he dies from food poisoning. Talk about a stubborn person! he had to be poisoned and dying to understand the value of having others around, that’s insane!
BTW, I don’t remember any of the get out of society stuff in here, it almost feels like secondary at this point. My thinking goes to the character interpreted by Vince Vaughn, he seems to be the perfect balance between society and free spirit, shame that he ends up in jail…