Friday, 10 April 2015

Into the Wild (4½ Stars)


I think careers are a 20th Century invention, and I don't want one.

The biggest problem with having a large, meticulously sorted DVD collection is what happens when you make a mistake. This happened to me today. Last week I moved house. I set up my bookcases and spent a few hours putting my DVD's back in their shelves in alphabetical order. Yesterday I decided to watch "Into the Wild", but I couldn't find it. My first idea was that I hadn't unpacked it, so I checked the contents of my not yet unpacked moving boxes. Then I thought that I might have accidentally stored it with the approximately 100 DVD's that I intend to sell. No, not there either. So I stood in front of my bookcases, going through every DVD one by one. And there it was. It had somehow been misplaced, it was between R and S, slotted in between "The Rutles" and "Samhain". That little mistake cost me more than an hour of searching.


So I watched the film again, better late than never. I bought it on June 24th, 2010, and I remember watching it twice in quick succession, the first time by myself, the second time with my daughter, Fiona. That sticks in my mind because after watching it she said it was the best film she had ever seen. I wouldn't rate it so highly myself, but I admit that it's a very good film.

The film tells the true story of Christopher McCandless from his university graduation in May 1990 to his death in August 1992. After graduating he became disillusioned with modern society and decided to drop out. He gave his life savings to charity and left his family in the middle of the night, not telling them where he was going. He adopted the new name Alexander Supertramp, maybe to stop people finding him, maybe just because it was a cool sounding name. At first he had no plans about where he wanted to go, and he did farming work to support himself on his wanderings, but he eventually formed the goal of going to Alaska. Alex (to use his new name) spent two years travelling from West Virginia to Alaska via Mexico.

I don't know what is more beautiful in the film: the scenery or the people. Living on the road Alex met with the most amazingly eccentric people wherever he went. It's only when he reached Alaska that he was completely alone, living in the wreck of an abandoned bus.

I support Christopher/Alexander completely in his life outside society. He says, "I don't understand why people, why every fucking person is so bad to each other so fucking often. It doesn't make sense to me". I could have told him why, but he wouldn't have liked the answer. It's the love of money that does it. If I want to have more money and more of the things that money can buy I have to be cruel to others to achieve my ends. Maybe some rich person might say that he's never done anything bad to get his money, but he isn't thinking it through. Wealth is a finite resource. If one person has more, others have less. The only way to finance a top footballer's salary of millions is to pay other people in other jobs less than they deserve. The top footballer -- replace the word with any other career -- hoards wealth at the expense of others.

While I respect Alex's journey into the wild, it's not something I could do. To start with, I am very sensitive to cold, so even a few days of living in the snowy wastes of Alaska would kill me. And then I enjoy the comforts of the modern technological age too much to abandon society altogether. I like to listen to music and watch films, so I need my CD's and DVD's. I'm not ashamed to say that. I accept the way I am. All I can say, with some pride, is that my pleasures are cheap. My entire CD and DVD collection is worth less than a Porsche, and it will last longer.

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