Saturday, December 18, 2010

Movie Review of Into the Wild (2007)

Wisdom replaces ignorance in our minds when we realize that happiness does not lie in the accumulation of more and more pleasant feelings, that gratifying craving does not bring us a feeling of wholeness or completeness. It simply leads to more craving and more aversion. When we realize in our own experience that happiness comes not from reaching out but from letting go, not from seeking pleasurable experience but from opening in the moment to what is true, this transformation of understanding then frees the energy of compassion within us. Our minds are no longer bound up in pushing away pain or holding on to pleasure. Compassion becomes the natural response of an open heart.

- Joseph Goldstein, “Seeking the Heart of Wisdom”

Instead of going to law school after university, Christopher McCandless (an ironic name) acted by Emile Hirsch, decides he wants to be “just living, just there in that moment”. He heads off without telling his family on a journey of discovery, through the desert, down the Colorado River into Mexico, riding the rails, hanging out in a hippie commune, hitchhiking across country, and ultimately to the Alaskan Wilderness. “Rather than love and money and faith and fame and fairness, give me truth,” he declares.

He is fleeing the pain of a highly dysfunctional family. When asked, “Where are your Mom and Dad?” he replies, “Living their lies somewhere.” Being young, he condemns others for their judgements and unkindness, unable to see his own yet.

He gives away all his savings, destroys his credit cards and identification, and burns the last of his cash, which he views as baggage. “I don’t need money. It makes people cautious,” and caution is something he disdains. He believes the joy of life is in everything. People have to change the way they experience things. He challenges himself at every opportunity, taking great risks because he believes it is “important to not only be strong, but to feel strong.”

Like Siddhartha, he learns from others, from nature, and from himself. The scenes of crop fields, oceans, mountains, rivers, birds, and snow are majestic and inspiring. “Power is only an illusion” he states. In his quest for freedom, he overestimates his personal power and nature teaches him that impulsivity can be a dangerous quality.

The story is based on true events.

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