Posted by: angrybeesound | August 28, 2007

Into the Wild

When I was growing up 10 pm on a friday night for me meant ABC’s 20/20 “I’m Hugh Downs and Im Barbara Walters, and this is 20/20” I loved that show, I watched it countless times over the years but only one episode really stuck with me. That episode was from 1997. The only story that week was that of Chris McCandless. I sat rivetted for the hour where the last 3 years of his life was shown. After the show aired I felt inspired by what he had chosen to do. He gave up a comfortable life and traded it for uncertainty and what life he could make on his own. He wanted adventure and he made it happen. I felt awe for this guy.

I went to the library and photocopied the 1993 issue of Outdoors magazine that featured “Death of an Innocent” by Jon Krakuer  and subsequently picked up and read “into the Wild” an expansion of the essay.

This is where Chris McCandles fell of his podium. I read the book and I learned more about how he died. I was raised to be an outdoorsman, by a sound outdoorsman. I have never been to Alaska, but in my experience, starving 20 miles from a highway in the middle of summer is like making a choice to die. He had set up the chain of events in such a way that death went from being a remote end result to a probable one. Had he broken any of those links on the chain he would have moved dying to being less of a probability and there stands a good chance he would have walked out of Alaska. The links on the chain included- he had no map, had he one he would have known of the bridge that would have saved his life. He possessed minimal survival skills, hoping to gain it from one book on edible plants. He had originally planned to hike to the coast, but had failed to take into account the mire that the thaws make of the ground, it goes on.

But still his faults were a result of his ambition, and his death did not dimish the appreciation I had for the spirit he had. This story was very important to me in high school. The reason I am writing is that there will soon be a movie. Film offers such possibilities, it can tell stories very successfully in a different medium, or it can be told in a different light and curbed from what you feel the book is, means and ought to convey. In my head I’ve drawn out characters- the intense personality of McCandless and how similar his actions mirrored the desires I felt and a younger man, his trip rafting down the river, working on the farm with Wayne, etc.

 Recently another book that was influential to me in high school was made into a movie, and it was bad. Ask the Dust, by John Fante had passion, edginess, the city was gritty, people were real, flawed, it is great. I hope Sean Penn does a better job with it than was given to Fante’s work. 

Either way, rereading the book just got moved to the top of the literary list.  

 The trailer can be viewed below.

Chris McCandless WikipediaInto the Wild AmazonDeath of an InnocentOriginal Outdoors article  

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