Friday, July 11, 2008

Into the Wild - Kate's Perspective


Owing to the fact that my family has half off all rentals at Family Video this month, we've been watching a lot of movies. And, unusually, we've been watching a lot of movies together. By family, I mean me, my parents, and Jimmy. Jimmy doesn't get to comment here, though, since he only saw the second half.

My mother hated Into the Wild, as I pretty much assumed she would, considering it's a movie (based on a true story) about a boy who goes off into the wilderness because he's pissed at his parents, and doesn't tell them where he is. They find out, eventually, because of course he dies. But it's rare that my mom feels strongly enough about a movie to argue with me on it.

I really can't tell you exactly how I felt about Into the Wild. At first, I disliked the main character, Chris (played beautifully by Emile Hirsch). I thought he was preachy, and that his big "adventure" was just a roundabout way of pissing off his parents. But after the movie was over, I realized that I'm pretty sure that's how Chris felt at first, too. Eventually, as the film goes on and he meets all the people who affect him along the way, he learns to be self-sufficient; he learns to forgive and love those around him; he learns that the pleasure in being alone isn't just the satisfaction you can get from denying others your company. He stops being such an arrogant little bitch and starts to really live the way he thought he was at the beginning.

However, of course he also learns some things he didn't count on. He learns that it's cruel to make the ones who love you worry. He learns that to really experience true happiness, you need someone to share it with. And he learns, ultimately, that he does not want to spend the rest of his life alone. But his lessons come too late, and he dies in the Alaskan wilderness, unable to cross back over the river that was frozen when he came and has now melted.

My first instinct is to tell people this movie is depressing, but that's really not true. Actually, I think that's the best possible ending. Chris learned his life lessons, but where could he have been happy had he lived? He couldn't have gone back to the suburbs and become a lawyer. But he also couldn't stay in the wilderness alone. The most poignant ending, certainly tragic but also more beautiful than any other option, was for him to die; alone, yes, but with love in his heart and truth in his mind.

My condolences go out to Chris's family for their loss, but they are lucky to have known such an adventurous, beautiful soul. I hope it's at peace now.

Final rating: B+

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