Into the Wild: Book vs Movie

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Undeniably, Krakauer’s transcendentalist appeal format and Sean Penn’s Byronic appeal both have their benefits and drawbacks in recapturing the life story of the rather arcane Chris McCandless. However, the precise accuracy and constant focus on McCandless in the movie, in conjunction with the Byronic and romantic theme, best brings out the true meaning of his life story. The portrayal of McCandless’s parents truly illustrates how he felt about his early life, and perhaps hints at the driving forces for his cross-country extravaganza. The film includes scenes of heated arguments and disputes between Walt and Billie McCandless. One includes them physically confronting each other, while Chris and his sister Corine are cowering in fear. The movie highlights more of the bad side of the parents compared to the book. This proves very effective in explaining the “unsavory secret past” that characterizes a Byronic hero, which may have led McCandless to seek a new meaning to life. As McCandless drives out of Atlanta in his Datsun, it begins Chapter 2 – Adolescence, indicating a new start to his life; he was seeking a new beginning.
The impressive acting of the characters in the movie emphasized the impact McCandless had on all of the people he met along his journey. Ronald Franz, who as noted in Into the Wild, “withdrew [his] church membership and became an atheist” (Krakauer 60) after Chris died had an even more profound impact in the movie. Hal Holbrook, who played Franz in the movie, did an astounding job that surely had to evoke emotion in any viewer. Furthermore, the way McCandless’s deep passion and drive for adventure influenced him was evident when Franz attempted to climb the small mountain where McCandless was temporarily livi...

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... that he had been searching for all along on his Great Alaskan Adventure. He had discovered that he needed to reconnect with the people he cared most about to share his pleasures. At this point McCandless was content with dying by his own volition; McCandless was indeed the iconic Byronic hero. As the camera sweeps up and pans away from McCandless’s resting spot in the bus, the tune of Eddie Vedder’s “Hard Sun” begins to play, invoking a feeling of happiness and accomplishment. Chris McCandless had found the meaning of life.

Works Cited

Hamilton, Ronald. “The Silent Fire: ODAP and the Death of Christopher McCandless."Scribd. Scribd, 7 Sept. 2013. Web. 9 Dec. 2013.

Into the Wild. Dir. Sean Penn. Perf. Emile Hirsch and Vince Vaughn. IMDb. 15 Nov. 2013. 18 Nov. 2013

Krakauer, Jon. Into the Wild. New York: Anchor Books, 1997.
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