Into the Wild is painful to watch. It’s like witnessing an emotional breakdown in really slow motion, the pain and the truth of it unfolding gently but inexorably in front of your eyes. And there’s absolutely nothing you, or anyone, can do about it.
Rejecting his manipulative and materialist parents and their shallow, duplicitous, dishonest lives, Christopher McAndless throws away his identity, gives his savings to charity, and makes his way across some of America’s most remote and dramatic wildernesses. Along the way he meets with those other unbearably shell-shocked, distressed, tender people who struggle to fit into the madness of the modern world but nevertheless look out for him and for each other with the generosity of those who have nothing.(Catherine Keener’s one of them, so you know it can break your heart.)
McAndless ended up in Alaska where he lived off the land sheltering in an abandoned bus that can be seen clearly on Google Earth. He died there too, when he ate poisonous plants and his nervous system shut down. Into the Wild filmed in over 30 locations, including the tiny town of Cantwell on Alaska’s Stampede Trail – about 250 miles from Anchorage and about 50 miles south of where McCandless actually died. Read about the challenges of filming in such remote locations – and managing Emile Hirsch’s dramatic weightloss schedule – at editor Jay Cassidy’s interview at Studio Daily.