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Welcome to the BMFI Forum for INTO THE WILD

adouglas's picture


BMFI is very pleased to be showing INTO THE WILD. If you haven't yet seen it, you can visit our website ( for showtimes. I just saw it, not having read the book, and it is truly a lyrical, romantic, and personal film.

One interesting thing to keep in the back of your mind as you're taking the film in is the way in which director Sean Penn conveys the personal, contemplative, and internal nature of the story he and his collaborators are telling. While there is a general adherence to conventional narrative and filmic continuity, there are many, many divergences, and it is in these that the film is most expressive.

Please offer your own insights into the film, and share any reactions you might have to INTO THE WILD with forum readers.

Andrew J. Douglas, BMFI Director of Education

Attila's picture


Hi all! I've seen this movie for the first time yesterday and it blew me away!
Nice comments by all!! What I'm actually looking for atm is the piece of music as he enters the river in the kayak for the first time. I've got the soundtrack (which is fabulous).. but I'd really like to get that piece i mentioned above. Anybody know??

Anonymous's picture

Songs not included in soundtrack

Does anybody know the name of the songs that not are included in the soundtrack?
I think Greatful Dead made one of the songs. I appreciate response as fast as possible. Been looking for this songs far too long.

Best wishes from sweden!

Nadal's picture


I agree with Jason. The pictures was great and artist arise from inside. The music was great too and I thing the moovie is worth be seeing.

Jason's picture

I disagree with almost

I disagree with almost everything I have read on this forum. I think the movie artistry was great. I thought the music was great. I think he wasn't self centered at all, infact many of his actions and motives were the direct intended opposite of it. I don't think he was running away from his problems as much as he was running to possible solutions. And I don't think his death being avoidable really took away from his efforts and ideals. I still have my issues with the ending, but I certainly don't think the rest of the movie supports him having false virtues.

Here is my personal philosophcial view of the movie:

I see things deontologically, not consequentially(particually on such an existential level as this)and I happen to agree with his thinking. The movie as well, I think depicts his thinking in a rather positive light, until the end, which is unavoidable with the narrative.

As I see it, it was a shame he passed away, but the virtue of what he was attempting is not diminished. He actively looked for the virtuous and placed such high regard on it, that it seemed he'd be willing to die for it, even if he had not wholly contemplated that consequence occuring at that moment. That is what I appreciate. We will all fail, and often when it is easily avoidable. It is not something to aspire to, but in itself does not take away from the efforts of greatness, which do not neseccarily hold simply from winning or surviving.

If it was hubris, in wanting to think greater of oneself for the ego, I would agree it detracts, but if it was simply from the urge to adventure and experience as I believe it was, it's worth remains for me anyway.

Personally, what detracts from the moral I was attempting to take from the movie, is not his death, but his turn in thought, depending on how one interprets it. He seemed to change philosophy in has last moments, with plenty of impetus from emotion and self preservation, and not from the knowledge he had previously placed in such high regard. If you believe he died in sound mind, and was not speaking simply for the benefit of family and friends, then his beliefs changed abruptly and possibly unreasonably(though quite understandably).

He did not have an experience that introduced him to the greatness of human companionship immediately before his death and so when such words came out of his mouth, if not through deep honest introspection(which was constantly going on anyway), then it came about through an emotional response to the threat of death.

So although the ending took away from the lesson I was attempting to derive, the ending still ellicits emotion and introspection, and displays how people may often act in such situations. So the ending makes for an even better ending than the one I would have hoped for.

Consider how your views of the movies point would change if he had survived and the movie ended with him prepairing for another adventure. How would the rest of the movie line up with your reasoning?

Ms Swisher's picture

My opinion of Christopher McCandless

Into The Wild

I must state my opinion and view of Mr. Christopher Johnson McCandless and his adventure ”Into The Wild”

McCandless to me, was a man of intelligence, but not intelligence of nature. He had book smarts. He seemed to be curious of the outside world, wanted to know what it was like without the money, without the everyday standards or stereotypes,without the constant battles to prove yourself to others,he just wanted to break away from it all and experience life being at peace with himself and the world. He wanted to get away from “society” as it was/is.

I believe he found what he was looking for. I also believe he didn’t intend to stay gone forever, whether his expedition ended by choice or not.

I do not think he was on a “suicidal mission” as others assume. I believe he intended to do as he had before, take a break for a while, collect himself, then return just as he had before. He may have known what he was in for, and that gave him even more of a drive to do so. He was being told he couldn’t do it, that it wasn’t safe, that there was no way he could survive on the limited knowledge and gear he had with him when he left. I believe that was his final drive, he was being told he “cant” so he went on his mission to prove everyone wrong. Which in a tragedy, failed.

He made a mistake, which happens, and like most mistakes, his was learned the hard way.
I dont belive he wanted end his life alone or scared, let alone both. Who does?

Remember he tried to return, but saw that the river was too rapid and harsh. He left himself with no choice other than to turn back to what he knew was safe at the time being. He most likely had the intention to try crossing the river again in just a few weeks. How was he to know his life would end before being able to attempt the river a second time? How was he to know that (mind you he had no knowledge of the river or the surrounding areas) that there was a stock-house for hunters, or even a pulley basket/bridge just a few miles down the river. Granted there were many ways he could have made it out, but in the state of mind and body he was in, how do we know that he did NOT try any other times? Because his journal doesn’t recall any other attempts?

He was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Not knowing how to get out.

If only he had taken the time to wise up on nature, before he dove headfirst into it, he may still be alive today, to tell this amazing story himself. Even if so, would it be as amazing if he had came out alive, as it is now, ending in tragedy?

Christopher Johnson McCandless may the life you lived have been to the fullest and to your satisfaction. In death I wish that you continue to reach your goals and dream as big as you did in life. You’ve got cajones man! ;P
May your body rest in peace and your soul continue to explore the world just as you were set to do.

Thank You for your life. Without it, people wouldn’t have anything to bicker or argue about. Some wouldn’t have the drive to accomplish goals. And most of us, wouldn’t “reach out and grab it” when wanting something in life. Critics wouldn’t have anything to criticize. Instead people sit on their asses and argue about one mans beliefs and goals, and inspirations, while trying to teach their children to “go for their goals” to ”find something in life that makes you happy and do it”. How are we to teach our children one thing, but down another man for doing exactly what we are telling our children to do? Christopher McCandless had dreams, he went for them. Sadly his outcome ended horrifically. Unhappy, Alone and Scared.

Many people have many views, but only those who have open minds can respect the choice you, Christopher, have made in your life. Only you know why you set out to explore as you did. Many questions circle around your name on a daily basis that will forever go unanswered.

The greatest teachers in the world are ourselves, and you have taught us a great lesson, that will never be forgotten.

“Happiness is only real when shared”

The man deserves the utmost respect just as every human being does, remember him for who he was, not how he died.

The Bro's picture

Wimpy kid in undies

Hey guys, this film was lame. Eddie, without his boys, made some hauntingly annoying music. Also, the main character was a wimp. He could of manned up and not have died. Also, his sis's poetry about her bro was laughable. The film was pretty much conventionally straightforward and kind of amateurish. An example of this amateur hour of a film is when he is kayaking down the river and it cuts to a slow-mo "first person" POV shot of film rafting. So yeah, sure that shot are cool to maybe someone’s grandmother, but anyone that believes that film is an art would laugh at the Bret Ratner-ness of that shot and other similar moments in the film. Ya'll keep it real.

Anonymous's picture

First of all, the soundtrack

First of all, the soundtrack is amazing, and if you listen to the lyrics they fit perfectly with the movie. The main character was a wimp? How many people actually give up all their possessions and burn their money to live in the wilderness of Alaska? The poetry about her brother was beautiful and heartfelt, and anyone watching the movie can identify with someone like that in his life. The amateur kayaking scene makes sense because he had never been kayaking before and even said earlier that he was afraid of water, and he went without a liscense and took a chance to see if he could do it. Yeah, sounds pretty wimpy to me.

Tom's picture

You're a very very strong

You're a very very strong man!

Yo keeping it really real bro.

lydiasmile's picture

into the wild... saw it 2 times.. #2 was more difficult

I loved this film... I read the book and some of its content has stayed with me...(mainly that people need people, and some mistakes and or ignorance could lead to your death)

I don't even know where to begin. This is a hard film to watch because the boy, Christopher is so caught up in this path that he refuses to see the path he is actually on. He refuses to reconise the humanness of his parents until it is too late.. he does not Get that he is who he is because of his parents nad they may have done the best that they could... In the end of their relationship they loved him the way that they new how.. he was too yound and nieve to GEt that until he was dieing and it was too late... As a mother my heart blead for the family.

I loved the fast food job part. Here is this apparent anti- establishment rebel working at the fast food chain ... and he gets in trouble for not wearing socks (with his topsiders) ... flash forward to the very humbling scene of the father who was in the street in pure agony in topsiders with no socks... (um you are who you are)

His lesions are very difficult, hard to watch and a waist of talent ... his life was a waist. Yes, I totally get that. I think that that is the point of the film. His path might look like a Taoism path going with the flow. streeming Down the river etc. But in actuality he is running from his path himself... he needed to come to terms his existance and embrace it learn. He missed the real meaning in his literature until it was too late. A tragic tale...

I heard one women who was still sitting in the audience say that it was the saddest movie that she has ever scene... Maybe so... But there are lessons to learn and for this I am grateful for the story. Maybe it is not such a waist if other kids can learn from it. I traveled to many Grateful Dead shows as a teenager and young adult... Many of those "kids" are gone now.. rebelling against themselves... I learned a lot about life and learned hard facts of life too... Alexander super tramp needed to call home, but his stubborness ended up killling him.. a good lesson to learn from a distance.

I loved Katharine Keener and her partner (he was wonderful) I loved the star... I felt like he was perfect for the role.

The Eddie Vedder CD is haunting and a work of art... My husband and I have listened to it many times and I think it is a perfect sound tract...

I hope this film gets more exposure... I believe that is Oscar worthy.

(I am a cinifile and see a few movies a week.. some more then once in the theater) sorry for the long rant ... peace Lydia

Anonymous's picture

who is the girl in into the wild?

who worked in the fast food restaurant who told him he had to wear socks? she's so familiar, it is making me NUTS!

Serendip Visitor's picture

Kristen Stewart

it's she)

she is great in this movie.

Alan Ominsky's picture

Into the Wild

Beautiful photography, but of a very limited area. The central character is disgustingly, nauseatingly self centered. Despite the photography I had to repeatedly struggle to stay awake I recommend this film only for those heavily into glorified narcissism

adouglas's picture

Into the Wild is narcissistic, but also worthwhile

I actually agree with you, Alan, to a large degree about the narcissistic current that runs through INTO THE WILD. I'll admit I was predisposed not to like the film, as I'd formed an opinion of the main character as an ingrate who only had the luxury of learning what he learned and living how he lived because of his parents, of whom I thought he was far too disdainful. And even after seeing the first half-hour of the film, or so, I still felt this way and to an extent, the feeling never left me.

However, having these opinions of the character--justified or not--does not necessarily mean the film is not worth seeing. For one thing, while it is typically difficult to achieve and a recipe for unpopularity, there is no rule that a film's protagonist must be likable. I think there's a case to be made that this film could serve as a lesson to young people like the main character to be wary of their own hubris and (self) loathing, lest it lead them down a path similar to Christopher's. Furthermore, I think the film itself is creative, expressionistic, and surprisingly effective at conveying the internal nature of self-reflection and contemplation. These are difficult things to depict in a film without it seeming to indulgent, and I think INTO THE WILD largely succeeds on this front.

Dru's picture

Into The Wild

What a beautiful and haunting film. I saw it last Friday and still cannot stop thinking about it. The cinematography is amazing, the acting outstanding, and the story sad but ultimately inspiring. Plus, a powerful soundtrack featuring Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam that sticks on your head for days afterward. I'd say Academy Award nominations are coming for Sean Penn (direction), adapted screenplay, Emile Hirsch (Actor) and Hal Holbrook (Supporting Actor) and possibly Best Picture if anyone actually gets a chance to see it. I highly recommend this film. I'm surprised that it really hasn't opened wide. Wonder why?