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



was ready to forgive them and move on with his life back in American
society. This movie is an accusation against the rush-and-go mentality of
present-day America. Part of the controversy surrounding Chris
McCandless’s actions was his refusal of wealth and the comforts and
safety of habit and custom as well as his refusal to contact his parents.

Yet his story calls into question the true meaning of success in modern
life. It also highlights how much pain is caused by those who seek
power, possessions, and prestige over self-worth and happiness. Chris
McCandless was a person who sought meaning in the silence and im-
posing beauty of nature. His refusal to conform to empty rules and his
desire to find some peace in solitude is a reminder that we too should
find an authentic life for ourselves and that we don’t need permission
to do it.

Works Cited
Into The Wild. Dir. Sean Penn. Perf. Emile Hirsch. Paramount Vantage,
2007. DVD.

Grossman, Lev. "Nature Boys." Time International (Canada Edi-
tion) 170.13 (2007): 53. MasterFILE Complete. Web. 2 May
2016. Riley, Jenelle. "Wild' Thing." Back Stage East 48.49 (2007): 17A-
38A. Business Source Complete. Web. 28 Apr. 2016.

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