While I was in El Paso a couple of weeks ago, I watched the movie Into the Wild, written and directed by Sean Penn. A few years earlier, Megan and I had listened to the book by John Krakauer that this film is based on.
The story is about Chris McCandless (pictured above), a 24-year-old vagabond who hiked into the Alaskan wilderness in 1992 with little more than a ten-pound bag of rice and the clothes on his back. After living in an abandoned bus for several months, McCandless tried to hike back out but was unable to cross a river in the height of Summer. Ultimately, McCandless died of starvation.
Krakauer’s book romanticized McCandless’ life and he has become a folk hero of sorts. But some look upon his life and death less favorably. Alaskan Park Ranger Peter Christian wrote:
People, nearly always young men, come to Alaska to challenge themselves against an unforgiving wilderness landscape where convenience of access and possibility of rescue are practically nonexistent. When you consider McCandless from my perspective, you quickly see that what he did wasn’t even particularly daring, just stupid, tragic, and inconsiderate. First off, he spent very little time learning how to actually live in the wild. He arrived without even a map of the area. If he [had] had a good map he could have walked out of his predicament […] Essentially, Chris McCandless committed suicide. (source: Wikipedia)
This movie isn’t for everyone but it provides an interesting perspective on living on the fringes of society. I’m intrigued by exteme people, and McCandless certainly qualifies (although insane may be more accurate). One of the highlights of the movie is the soundtrack by Eddie Vedder. Vedder plays every insrument and of course handles the vocals on each song. He really captures the haunting nature of the story. My favorite song is Society — listen here.