I reserve the right and encourage it in my other posters and editors to use this blog, when the inspiration and occasion align, to speak the absolute truth and talk about art that has really moved them. If we can’t speak honestly to each other in a so-called ‘creative industry’ then where lies the rationality behind the pursuit of something we revere as raw and pure?
Over my ‘Christmas break’, as we call it here in the states, I picked up and casually read the John Krakauer book, ‘Into the Wild’. Something in that book stirred me in a way I hadn’t felt since I was a young boy. I recalled reading ‘Call of the Wild’ by Jack London and remembered the simple logic in recognizing that there was a line that divided the ‘civil’ life and the other more ‘rugged, ragged and wild’ life that could be equally or even more real than the world we were taught to accept in school. There is a yearning for the wild in the heart of every American that forces them to live in question of what our country has become. What do riches mean? Do they really enrich or do they enslave? Is not the sound of nature at night more visceral and true than the sound of cars and sirens? Would I really rather be at the heart of the dying beast of civilization, or would I rather be there in the dirt amongst the other beings of the Earth communing with the more honest existence that drove the history of mankind?
I think that is a duality that we all feel, even at a low murmur in our lives within the microcasms of our national societies. Just out there, beyond our vision, is another kind of life where we wouldn’t need any of the material excess we have been taught to fear life without. In a very real way, we could just walk away from all of this and still find meaning in our experience. There is also that other sheer joy in life that is love. Love is something that only feels real when it is shared with another. This sharing requires a certain proximity to society. Here is the dual nature we find ourselves in at present times.
That is what ‘Into the Wild’ is essentially about, at least to me it is. The book made me examine my life closely and really think about what my motives are and what they mean in the context of life. I think that actor, but this time Director Sean Penn must have had the same reaction because he was able to bottle an energy in the movie that made me feel all the same feelings the book made me feel. The movie is so carefully crafted that each scene, whisper, breath, note and spoken word propels the exposition and impact of the story to it’s inevitable conclusion. Regardless, of how you feel about the central character, Chris McCandless, you can identify with his yearning for a truer kind of truth. You may not even like him, or agree with the pain he inflicted, but you can see what he was reaching for no matter how flawed his attempt was. Sometimes, understanding someone is more important than liking them.
Penn must have felt these same feelings in his own life to have captured it so well in this movie. The experience, if you are listening and open, is almost wholly absorbed into your own subconscious through the vehicle of the film so much so that you can’t help but feel moved. The actors must have been equally compelled by the story because each character seems to have been meticoulously chosen to embody the truest sense of each character. Hal Halbrook portrays and exudes a certain kind of wisdom in the movie that seems so real it is almost impossible to believe any acting was involved. The lead role, acted by Emile Hirsch is also perfectly cast. You feel as if the young reckless actor is almost transformed into the character he is portraying. My heart was wrenched by this film and if you are due for a little heart wrenching yourself, you should go watch it now.