The favorite film:
Into the Wild, a 2007 biographical drama released by Paramount and directed/adapted by Sean Penn

(Image via

The synopsis:
Based on the book of the same title by Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild follows the story of Chris McCandless. After graduating with a high GPA and great educational track record from Emory University, Chris abandons his life, giving his savings to charity and heading out on the road. He hitchhikes to Alaska with the plan of living in the wilderness for a while, eventually returning to his family. Along the way, Chris meets a wide variety of odd (but often wonderful) people who shape his perspective.

(Image via Movie Wall)

The cast:
Emile Hirsch as Chris McCandless
Marcia Gay Harden as Billie, Chris’ mother
William Hurt as Walt, Chris’ father
Jena Malone as Carine, Chris’ sister
Brian Dierker as Rainey
Catherine Keener as Jan
Vince Vaughn as Wayne
Hal Holbrook as Ron Franz

Fun facts:

  • The film is based on a true story. Detailed information about Chris McCandless and his journey, including letters from the McCandless family and pictures, can be found at the Christopher McCandless tribute website.
  • In the film’s opening scene, a man is shown giving a pair of rubber boots to Chris. The man with the boots is Jim Gallien, who plays himself.
  • Emile Hirsch lost 40 pounds for his role in this film.
  • Brian H. Dierker, who portrays one of the people Chris meets on the road, was not originally hired for the role. He had no acting credits and was hired as a consultant for the rafting scenes. He has since only had one other on-screen role, as Bones in 2011’s No Strings Attached.
  • Sean Penn decided not to shoot at the acutal “Magic Bus” out of respect for Chris, and constructed an exact replica of the bus instead. The scenes at the bus are the only scenes not shot on location.
  • Sean Penn waited ten years before finally making the film, in order to be sure that Chris’ family approved of the idea.

Favorite things:

  • Emile Hirsch’s 100% convincing portrayal of Chris
  • A+ soundtrack, featuring Roger Miller and a whole lot of Eddie Vedder
  • Literary references (I spy some Gogol on Chris’ book pile!)
  • Beautiful shots and scenery
  • Sean Penn’s respect for the McCandless family while making the film
  • Copenhagen knows how to party with MC Hammer
  • The film shows both sides of the story: both Chris’ journey itself, and his family’s struggle during that time.
  • Penn takes his time telling the story, but the film remains engrossing throughout its nearly 2.5 hour duration and never seems to drag.
  • The film doesn’t paint Chris as a hero, but does do a good job of showcasing his beliefs and the intentions that he set out with when he decided to carry out his “Alaskan adventure.”
  • The story will stick with the viewer for a very long time after watching and leaves a big impression, making it one of the most powerful films of recent years.
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  • Quotes:
    • Rainey: “All is not well on the hippie front.”
    • Chris: “I’m supertramp… and you’re super apple!”
    • Chris: “Twelve years? Twelve years… to paddle down a river?”
    • Wayne: “Alaska, Alaska? Or city Alaska? Because they do have markets in Alaska. The city of Alaska. Not in Alaska. In the city of Alaska, they have markets.”