Into the Wild: Different perspective for life | Sunday Observer

Into the Wild: Different perspective for life

18 July, 2021

Into the Wild: Plot Summery

In April 1992, Christopher McCandless arrives in a remote area called Healy, just north of Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Noting McCandless’ unpreparedness, the stranger who drops him off gives him a pair of gumboots. McCandless travels into the wilderness and sets up a campsite in an abandoned city bus, which he calls ‘The Magic Bus’. At first, McCandless is content with the isolation, the beauty of nature around him, and the thrill of living off the land. He hunts with a .22 calibre rifle, reads books, and keeps a diary of his thoughts as he prepares himself for a new life in the wild.


Into the Wild is a 2007 American biographical adventure drama film written, co-produced, and directed by Sean Penn. It is an adaptation of the 1996 non-fiction book of the same name written by Jon Krakauer and tells the story of Christopher McCandless (‘Alexander Supertramp’), a man who hiked across North America into the Alaskan wilderness in the early 1990s. The film stars Emile Hirsch as McCandless and Marcia Gay Harden and William Hurt as his parents; it also features Jena Malone, Catherine Keener, Brian Dierker, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart, and Hal Holbrook.

The film premiered during the 2007 Rome Film Fest and later opened outside Fairbanks, Alaska, on September 21, 2007. The film received critical acclaim and grossed $56 million worldwide. It was nominated for two Golden Globes and won the award for Best Original Song: Guaranteed by Eddie Vedder. It was also nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Editing and Best Supporting Actor for Holbrook.

Making of Into the Wild

The scenes of graduation from Emory University in the film were shot in the fall of 2006 on the front lawn of Reed College. Some of the graduation scenes were also filmed during the actual Emory University graduation on May 15, 2006. The Alaska scenes depicting the area around the abandoned bus on the Stampede Trail were filmed 50 miles (80 km) south of where McCandless actually died, in the tiny town of Cantwell. Filming at the actual bus would have been too remote for the technical demands of a movie shoot. A replica bus used in the movie is now a tourist attraction at a restaurant in Healy, Alaska.

Brian Dierker, who plays a major supporting role in the film as Rainey, had no previous acting experience and became involved in the production to be a guide for the rafting scenes.

Critical response

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 83 percent of 200 reviews of the film were positive, with an average rating of 7.50/10. The site’s critics consensus reads: “With his sturdy cast and confident direction, Sean Penn has turned a complex work of nonfiction like Into the Wild into an accessible and poignant character study.” Metacritic assigned the film an average score of 73 out of 100 based on 38 critics, indicating “generally favourable reviews”.

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars out of four and described it as ‘spellbinding’. Ebert wrote that Emile Hirsch gives a ‘hypnotic performance’, commenting: “It is great acting, and more than acting.” Ebert added, “The movie is so good partly because it means so much, I think, to its writer-director, Sean Penn.”

Pilgrimage destination

The abandoned and decaying bus on the Stampede Trail where McCandless died became a pilgrimage destination for fans. It was located in Denali Borough, Alaska, 30 miles (50 km) from the nearest town. The bus was taken to the remote trail in the 1940s by a road crew, according to Denali Borough Mayor, Clay Walker. Visitors to the site had to cross the dangerous Teklanika River. In 2019, a newlywed Belarusian woman drowned trying to cross the swollen river on her way to the site. Another drowning took place in 2010. Five Italians were rescued in February 2020, with one suffering from severe frostbite, and a stranded Brazilian had to be rescued in April 2020. In total, 15 bus-related search and rescue operations for visitors were carried out between 2009 and 2017.

On June 18, 2020, the bus was removed due to public safety concerns. It was air-lifted by a US army Chinook helicopter to an undisclosed location pending a decision about its final destination.

On September 24, 2020, the Museum of The North at the University of Alaska (Fairbanks) announced that it had become the permanent home of McCandless’ ‘Magic Bus 142’ where it will be restored and an outdoor exhibit will be created.