Emile Hirsch in ‘Into the Wild’/Photo © Paramount Vantage
Are you the kind of person who, every so often, daydreams about a challenge so isolated, quite dangerous, and life-changing? This writer certainly is — and even more so lately with the omnipresence of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of her own adventure, Wild. As reported earlier this year, Reese Witherspoon has purchased the film rights to Strayed’s book and plans to star in and produce the film. The cathartic story of Strayed’s journey is inspiring to say the least. Not all stories of once-in-a-lifetime treks end this way, however.
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer is the true story of a young man who took his desire for adventure to a whole new level. Christopher McCandless, following his graduation from university, gave his $25,000 in savings to charity, abandoned his car and most of his possessions, burned all the cash in his wallet, and invented a new life for himself by hiking into the Alaskan wilderness in April 1992. Krakauer’s telling of the story is a compelling book that evokes the writings of Thoreau, Muir, and Jack London as it recounts the haunting and tragic mystery of this twenty-two-year-old.
In 2007, Director Sean Penn brought Krakauer’s book — and McCandless’ story — to the big screen. Emile Hirsch starred as McCandless alongside heavy hitters Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener, Marcia Gay Harden, and William Hurt, and featured music by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder. If you’ve not yet seen the movie or read the book, pick up either or both next chance you get. And be prepared for total engrossment.