Last Saturday, I went to see Into the Wild with my friend, Rick. The entire movie fascinated and captivated me from first scene to closing credits. The story told was both touching and powerful. It covers the story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who takes off after college graduation to roam the country (with a brief trip into Mexico) for two years before entering the Alaskan wilderness to discover himself. During his travels, he demonstrates great insights and touches the lives of more than one person before his story comes to an unfortunate end.
In addition to telling a powerful story, this movie offered up many themes and thoughts that I could identify with. The movie suggested time and again that one of the driving motivations behind McCandless’s journey was a dissatisfaction with society and its structures and facades, preferring a simpler, more direct life. In more than one scene, McCandless promotes the idea of stripping away facades as well as becoming more self-reliant. This is a sentiment I often share with McCandless, though I do not plan to disappear into the Alaskan wilderness anytime.
But I think that to a lesser degree, McCandless offers us all sage advice to us all about learning to step beyond the complexities and games that have become an innate part of our civilization. He calls us to consider becoming more direct, more honest, and more authentic. And these are all things that we can benefit from. And if it leads us to lead somewhat simpler lives, all the better.
In the end, McCandless learns one truth in his isolation near the end of his journey. He reveals that truth by writing in one of his precious books, “Happiness is nothing unless it is shared.” (That may be a paraphrase rather than a direct quote.) It is both strange and unfortunate that to learn this wisdom, he had to spend an extended time alone. But then, I suppose we all are prone to take for granted the people with whom we share our lives with.
Overall, this movie is incredible, and I would highly recommend it to everyone.