I cannot say that I understand how bad it is to be alone as I have a nice family to go to. But I know of people that either have no family or are too far to find comfort.
But what is great about the human spirit is how we can turn our friends into our loved ones. I believe that if think you are alone, take the time to consider your friends.
Who do you like eating with? Watching movies with? Telling stories with? Your friends can be family, so be thankful for that.
What is more interesting is that we don’t realize we need other people until we are the furthest in solitude. We want to be alone to find peace only to see later that the peace is within the people we love. There’s nothing wrong with being alone; I like to be alone as it gives me a better chance to churn out better, but I would never want to leave my life completely at the cost of my family. One man learns that the hard way in the wilderness survival drama Into the Wild.
In 1992, Christopher McCandless (played by Emile Hirsch) has arrived in a remote area in Alaska where he has finally accomplished his goal of making it into the north to find peace within nature. All he wants is to live in the wild and fend for himself, and discover his true animal self.
Cut to two years earlier where Chris has graduated with honors in college only to reject a normal life. He burns all his identification, donates his savings to charity, and leaves for a life of fending for himself.
A broken down car leads him to start hitchhiking cross-country to build his stamina. One stop takes him to South Dakota where he works with a farmer, Wayne Westerberg (played by Vince Vaughn). Another takes him to a very rural town of Slab City, California finding himself with other people looking to get away from society.
Another leads him to a leather worker, Ron Franz (played by Hal Holbrook). He recounts his story to Chris about how he lost his family and even teaches Chris to make a leather belt. Cut back to Alaska where Chris finds that peace can only be found with others, yet nature begins to turn on him when he finds he can’t leave.
Into the Wild is a fine example on what happens when you get amazing actors for every part, and not just your lead. Emile Hirsch is very likable creating a character who wants to get away from civilization.
We’ve all felt like Chris when we’ve become frightened by the idea that we’ll be stuck with the same job forever. Chris embodies our sprit of adventure and why we need to travel. But his support system proves he’s still young and has yet to understand why we need others.
So while there is a story, I see Into the Wild as more of a series of random encounters. Each person represents several sides of how we live. Vince Vaughn is the hard worker whose greed gets the better of him. The people in Slab City are the furthest from society, having chosen to live with nature, at the cost of their pride and decency. Hal Holbrook is the guy that most of us want to be; old, but with a sense of purpose even after we cease contact with everyone we love.
Chris goes through these trials for his true test in Alaska, and we want him to learn his lesson. But maybe he’s learned it too late.
I’ll give this five abandoned buses out of five. Though it’s about being alone, Into the Wild made me want to call my family and friends to let them know how much they mean to me. The people we grow up with have shaped us into who we are, but I don’t know if we thank them enough for it. Into the Wild is an awe-inspiring building of character and adventure.
Robert T. Nickerson is a film critic. His work can be seen at mastermindfilmproductions.com.