Into the Wild - A Movie Dialogue

Into the Wild is the true story of Christopher McCandless, an Emory Univeristy graduate who became fed up with society, traveled the country without any money, and made a trip to Alaska. As with all of my reviews, this one has spoilers.

Throughout the movie, I struggled with the idea of whether it is wise to go out and discover the "truth" in the wilderness all alone. The idea of isolation is a glorified concept ever since Thoreau and his experience at Walden Pond. Our culture is fascinated with the self-sufficent individual. My reaction to the individuality of our culture has been just the opposite. I long to share my life with people. I have always thought that God was experienced more in community than in a beautiful meadow alone. This movie made me question that. Would it be good for me to go and experience God all alone for forty days like Jesus did? Should I? It was a real wrestling match. Maybe in the end the healthy life is a combination of both isolation with God and a shared life with others.

At other times throughout the film, I envied Christopher and the community he experienced while traveling the nation without any money. Part of me wants that life. At times I was ready to sell everything and hit the road. I want to share my life with others and have a good time just like he did. It seems like money, selfishness, and material goods get in the way of doing that. The poor seem to have better community than the rich. If I have to become poor to experience life more fully, then that is what I want to do. Then I struggled with the idea of my children. I do not want them to grow up poor. Deep in my core, there is apparently a clinging to the belief that money is essential to happiness or I would be fine with raising my children without much money and material possessions. This movie revealed that about me, and I just do not know what to do.

In the end, Christopher began to die. The movie makes it look like he was poisoned from eating poisonous seeds. Apparently, outdoors men that know about nature and the area he was in do not know if that is the real story. He might have just been dying of starvation and thought it was the result of the seeds. Whatever the reason, Christopher was dying alone in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. Before he died, the movie and his writings seem to show that he began to understand what life was all about. It took going into Alaska, living by himself for over 100 days, and dying to figure it out.  May we be able to learn the real meaning of life in time to enjoy it.

He inscribed in his book, "Happiness is only real when shared." This is a complete reversal of his previous thought, "You're wrong if you think the joy of life comes from human relationships." It was only when he was faced with death that he made the decision to forgive his parents, throw away his made up name, and take back his real name. There in that "magic bus," Christopher learned to forgive. He heeded the words of the old man that wanted to adopt him: "When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God's light shines on you."

This movie made me long for community, to share my life with people and get to know them. I know that when I go to work tomorrow, I will strive to be what I should be every day. I will try to listen to people who need to share their hurts, wishes, excitement, or any other thing. I will look for ways to help those around me. What a tremendous story. I am blessed to have watched it. I am sad that Christopher died.

Happiness is only real when shared. Let us share life.

Entertaining: 3/5
Inspiring: 5/5
Ethical Thinking: 5/5