Sunday, October 14, 2007
Ithaca, N.Y., October 2007
I went to see “Into the Wild” last night, FINALLY, and it’s a great movie. The cinematography is exceptional and really conveys the amazing beauty of Alaska, and the performances were excellent, particularly Catherine Keener, Hal Holbrook and Emile Hirsch.
It’s the story of Christopher McCandless, a recent college graduate who took the name Alexander Supertramp and hiked alone into the Alaskan wilderness, making a home for himself in an abandoned bus. He lived there for months, shooting game and gathering food, but eventually starved to death. The movie explores his motivations for rejecting modern life in search of something deeper, as well as his ultimate fate.
I can definitely identify with the desire to reject the essential trappings of our society: money, technology, status, ambition. McCandless seemed motivated by writers like Thoreau, in search of essential truths.
But he also lacked common sense, frankly, or rejected it as another impediment. He had an amazingly self-centered approach to life, abandoning his family and refusing to become bound by friendships. In choosing to live with no safety net, he left himself vulnerable, as he discovered.
I think what he lacked was balance - partly due to youthful exuberance, maybe. The practical side of me just winced when he did things like burn his cash and donate all his savings ($24,000) to charity. I mean, you want to have SOME kind of back-up plan, right? We DO live in the world, as much as we might want to reject it. Or maybe I’m just way too cautious, a trait that Alexander Supertramp would have scoffed at.