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his escape and return to the civilization that he had previously rejected. Since he has chosen nature, it claims him without pity or remorse. Na- ture is healing, but also dangerous. In an interview, Penn stated that he understood Chris McCandless’s need to isolate himself from civiliza- tion and live dangerously since the “wilderness is relentlessly authentic” (qtd. in Grossman para. 3). Even though Chris was ready to go back to a treacherous and corrosive relationship with his family and society, he made a few too many mistakes to enable his return. There were several shots of the sky which supplemented dialogue and voiceovers throughout the film. When Chris has a line of dialogue where he mentions the corruption of civilization, there is a close-up of a clear, blue sky crowded with jets. In other shots there are open skies with clouds, which coordinates with scenes where Chris feels free and happy in nature. At the movie’s death scene Chris looks out of a win- dow from his bed and there are several shots of the sky that menacingly zoom in toward the sun and distort wildly as if mimicking his physical pain and fear of death. In one of the final shots a lone jet appears to be flying up out of the atmosphere, signifying Chris’ soul leaving the earth. In a previous scene where Chris listens to a fatherly character talk about forgiveness and love, there is a shot of the sun coming out from behind clouds in a bright noon sky as if to show Chris’s state of mind upon hearing those words. The film also focuses on the meaningful relationships that McCandless formed during his travels, which helped him gradually come to forgive his parents. He met several characters whom Penn in- directly linked to family figures. The first was a maternal figure who was a nomad who had lost a son and made Chris question his judgement about his mother’s mistakes. A brother figure was found in an employer who offered him advice and guidance in his travels and who supported his decisions. He also found a sister figure in a young girl who was romantically interested in him, but whom he felt responsible for. Lastly, he found a father figure in an older man who had lost his wife and son and who reminded Chris of his obligation to forgive and return to his own family. Through these encounters, Sean Penn outlined how Chris must have formed friendships and trust with these individuals and how he found a way to make peace with his parents and himself. While he was never able to resolve the issues with his family, McCandless’s di- aries and writings that were recovered with his body indicated that he 43
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