Into the Wild: Book vs. Movie Essay

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Into the Wild: Book vs. Movie
Into the Wild happens to be my favorite book, and also one of my favorite movies. Most people like one or the other, but I think the two complement each other because of the varied stances taken on the main character himself. In case you’re not familiar, Into the Wild is based on the true story of Chris McCandless who, after graduating with honors from Emory University in 1990, gave his entire savings of twenty-four thousand dollars to charity and set off following his dream of living off the land in the Alaskan wilderness. McCandless made it to Alaska, but died shortly after taking residence in an abandoned bus; he probably passed from eating the wrong deadly plant or possibly from starvation. The book was
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Krakauer doesn’t portray McCandless as crazy, not by a long shot, but as a loner with a set of idealistic values that eventually led to his death, alone, in the Alaskan wilderness. The book sticks to the facts, yet the movie fills in the gaps and answers the questions. In one scene from the film, when McCandless is dying, he’s shown thinking last thoughts of his parents, wondering if they still loved him. We obviously don’t know what was going through Chris’s mind at the actual time of death. These differences can be explained by the purpose of the book versus the purpose of the movie. The purpose of Krakauer is to seek factual truth because it is a non-fiction book, while in the movie, spiritual truth is sought after, leaving some wiggle room for Sean Penn to bend the factual truth and omit certain details.
In conclusion, the film isn’t exactly an accurate portrayal of the events that took place. It celebrates the life of Chris McCandless and the optimism he had upon setting off on his journey in a fairy tale sort of way. I believe the film is beautifully done, and, if I had ever only seen the movie and never read the book, I would have sympathized more with Chris. The book, on the other hand, confines McCandless to facts and structure and reads like a biography. Ironically, facts and structure weren’t really a part of McCandless’s vocabulary or philosophy. Both the book and the movie seek truth and attempt to