The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: Into the Wild

Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Into the Wild”
Rated R

If Walt Whitman poems were films, they’d be 2007’s “Into the Wild” — a stirring American drama of comfort and conflict, abetted by equally resplendent cinematography, music and performances.

Writer/director Sean Penn’s adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s biography about Christopher McCandless rhapsodically mined the compelling contradictions of both America and the late McCandless — a culture’s vast soulfulness and its vapid emptiness, a majestic land’s splendor and danger, the ability of youth to be both damnably impulsive and tremendously instructive.

After graduating from college, McCandless purposely disappeared, donating savings to charity and tramping cross-country to what he didn’t know would be his final destination — a broken-down bus deep in the Alaskan wilderness.

Emile Hirsch beautifully evokes McCandless’s limber physicality and sometimes-foolhardy enthusiasm — writing in childish block letter and rechristening himself Alexander Supertramp.

McCandless’s journey included a series of emotional encounters with a passel of vagabonds, dreamers and loners — including Hal Holbrook in an unforgettable, Oscar-nominated turn as a man who’s lived longer alone than with family. The grandfatherly surrogacy he offers is touching and true, but, for Chris, acceptance is tantamount to abandoning his wandering-spirit quest to claim a unique experience.

Reality eventually trumped McCandless’s reveries, ill prepared as he was to live off a truly wild land. His was an idealism taken too far, but also an inspiration impossible to cut short. Even in its harrowing final moments, “Wild” achieved a spiritually transcendent pinnacle — the idea of ending one long, strange trip and plummeting into an even-greater unknown with both fear and elation.

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4 Responses to “Heroes of the Zeroes: Into the Wild”

  1. […] Emile Hirsch should be ashamed. After making quality movies like “Alpha Dog” or “Into the Wild,” you would think he would be more selective about the films in which he stars. With his performance […]

  2. chad cowgill says:

    I read the book before seeing the movie so I knew a little of what was coming. A spoiled brat kid decides to live for an ideal and is a homeless person. This movie romanticizes this kids poor choices. But the old man he meets and the story between them is really good.

  3. […] This is the downbeat, dejected truth of pure pennilessness — the opposite of Chris McCandless’s willful disconnection from the grid in “Into the Wild.” […]

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Nick Rogers, The Film Yap. The Film Yap said: The freedom and simple beauty is too good to pass up … #bestfilmsofthedecade #heroesofthezeroes […]