18 April 2011
Into The Wild, dir. Sean Penn 2007
My favourite piece of trivia I picked up in three years of American literature was that purveyor of the wilderness Henry David Thoreau infact stayed in a log cabin just eight miles away from his own village, often attending cosy dinner parties with friends and rarely remaining in solitude for longer than a few weeks at a time.
The very notion of taking yourself into oblivion not to specifically travel or to conquer a mountain range but just to be alone is one very alien, and, as far as I have seen, very American idea. And until watching Into The Wild I loved banding about my fact on Thoreau in any seminar or anytime anyone went near paraphrasing anything by the writer.
But Sean Penn's film about Christopher McCandless - well, it's an Odyssey. The self-assured, self-involved runaway was played by Emile Hirsch, who I'll admit I didn't sympathise with until the closing scenes, which were devastating enough in their regret and sorrow to make up for the two and a half hours it took to get there.
Authentic isn't the right word because it suggests it is already fake, but you certainly endure something just as an audience member. Entirely heart breaking, very sad, very true, and very genuine.