God Bless Sean Penn!
God Bless Hal Holbrook!
Into the Wild it is. Sean Penn brings John Krakauer’s best-seller to the screen based on the life of Chris McCandless, a 22 year old who donates all of his savings of $24,000 to Oxfam, abandons all his possessions as well as identity and thumbs his way to Alaska.Why does he do so? Because he wants to detach himself from the shackles of money, career, the rat-race and rather get lost in the unpredictable, dangerous American outbacks and experience FREEDOM, all in the style of his literary heroes -Jack London and Henry David Thoreau. And as Chris(portrayed by Emile Hirsch) says ,”I don’t want money,give me truth”, and that is what we get it.Amazingly, we are not made to gulp it down forcibly. But in the reels of Sean Penn, we witness what made Chris to take such a decision- to abandon a secure lifestyle to choose to hit the road by himself. Was he a spoilt child or an introspective and thoughtful person?It is a tragedy no doubt,for Chris himself who dies of starvation and poisoning , his parents who do not get a trace of him until they discover his dead body years after he left, and also for the old man who wanted to adopt him as his grandson. But at the end of it all, the Light did shine. The questions that were raised have been left unanswered, but in the narration of Chris’ sister Carine (Jena Malone), we begin to understand the anguish of the upbringing of a dysfunctional family and its harsh consequences. But Penn prefers to keep it miles away from being preachy in any way and rather tell the beautiful tale of Chris in the breathtaking outbacks of Alaska and his endearing quest for Idealism – that’s the word. (Check out the screenshots after the jump)
The journey in the movie has been depicted in a back and forth timeframe. Initially we see Chris in the frozen hills of Alaska and he makes his home in an abandoned bus called ” Magic Bus”. We then get to see Chris, who after donating his savings, burns all of his identification documents and starts calling himself “Alexander Supertramp”. He hitches rides along the way with hippies, rows on a kayak down to Mexico, and even gets beaten by the Railway Patrols. He becomes close to a 16 year old hippie as well. But above all,the most captivating and compelling friendship he makes is with a very gentle and concerned old man, Ron Franz. And yes, Hal Holbrook did deserve to be nominated for the Best Supporting Oscar. The scene in the jeep when after driving for a hundred miles, it is finally time to say goodbye to Chris, he reveals that his family line was dying with him and that he had this desire of adoptin Chris as his grandson. It is done so brilliantly that you could almost feel the pain touch you. Chris says he’ll discuss about it once he gets back from Alaska. And as he leaves, Ron blinks his eyes and a tear rolls down his cheeks. And the Oscar goes to….oh, damn you Anton Chigurh.
But well, the surface has to show all the adventure involved in this travelogue cum docu-drama that was involved in this hitching. The outbacks are spell binding and often leave you speechless. I am not kidding you. See the screenshots for yourself . The cinematography is just BRILLIANT. You sense the call of the wild, the chill of the snow, the heat of the melting ice, and the warmth of the coming spring, all effectively in the captured frames of cinematographer Eric Gautier. The gurgling of the water enchants me and so does the snow caped peaks. I’d rather talk less about these and just let you see them for yourself.
And when it is all done, I am left haunted. HAUNTED by the music of Eddie Vedder and the Ukelele strumming; HAUNTED by the open surroundings; HAUNTED by the beauty of the 16 year old hippie strumming her acoustic guitar; HAUNTED by Carine’s pain in her narrative voice of not having her beloved brother respond to her ,only to discover his death; HAUNTED by the thrill of experiencing ‘The Wild’ and by the adrenaline of stretching out the arms from the top of a peak; and finally HAUNTED by the smile of Ron Franz and his words,
” There is some kind of BIGGER thing we all appreciate, and it sounds that you don’t mind calling HIM God.But, when you forgive , you Love. And when you Love, God’s LIGHT SHINES on YOU”.