Into the Wild

Release Date: September 21, 2007
Limited release

Movie of the Day for Wednesday, September 19, 2007
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On the Big Board
Position Staff In Brief
3/33 John Seal The perfect double bill partner for Herzog's Grizzly Man
5/46 Les Winan Beautifully made, from acting to directing to cinematography. A great achievement by Sean Penn and Emile Hirsch. Penn clearly learned something from Malick.
24/214 Max Braden Being homeless never looked so enticing.
29/94 Shane Jenkins Good but not great. Some iffy choices by Sean Penn, but beautifully shot.

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Everyone dreams of having adventures - running away and exploring the world, being free from society, and living out all those Kerouacian fantasies. Christopher McCandless had those dreams too, and he lived them out, but the consequences for his actions proved fatal. McCandless graduated from Emory College in 1992, gave his life savings to charity, and went on a cross-country odyssey that led him to the Alaskan wilderness. The last person who saw him alive was the man who dropped him off on the Stampede Trail in April of 1992. Five months later, his body was found, along with more than a hundred journal entries; he had starved to death, unable to survive in the harsh, barren wilderness he had chosen as his home.

Based on McCandless’ diaries, John Krakauer wrote a book, Into the Wild, exploring McCandless’ decision to abandon his comfortable life, followed by his attempt and ultimate failure to survive by himself in the Alaskan countryside. Sean Penn has chosen to adapt the book to the screen, which will mark his fourth directorial effort, and his first since 2001’s The Pledge. Emile Hirsch will star as McCandless; a quickly rising star, Hirsch is best-known roles in The Girl Next Door, and Lords of Dogtown. Into the Wild will be his first dramatic starring role, and could establish him as a serious actor. William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden play McCandless’ parents, and Vince Vaughan and Catherine Keener are also included in the cast.

Penn’s earlier films have been marked by the intensity for which the Oscar winning actor is known. They have all dealt with loss and inability to overcome loss, specifically focusing on familial relationships. Into the Wild will continue this trend, as it will pull no punches in depicting the physically and emotionally grueling journey that McCandless endures, and that eventually kills him. Doubtlessly it will be an emotionally powerful film to the point where it will be difficult to watch, but for those brave enough to weather it, Penn’s talent will make the experience a rewarding one. (Tom Houseman/BOP)

Vital statistics for Into the Wild
Main Cast Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, Marcia Gay Harden
Supporting Cast William Hurt, Catherine Keener, Kristen Stewart, Zach Galifianakis
Director Sean Penn
Screenwriter Sean Penn
Distributor Paramount Vantage
Awards Awards page for Into the Wild
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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