Chris McCandless: Visionary or Goof Ball?

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As the release of Into The Wild draws near, I’m sure we’ll see more articles such as this one from Men’s Journal Magazine. It takes a look at the “Cult of Chris McCandless” the young man who was the subject of Jon Krakauer’s book.

McCandless was the enigmatic young man who graduated college, gave away most of his possessions, including about $24,000, and hitchhiked to Alaska where he set off alone, into the wilderness, to get back to a simpler way of life. After 112 days, he apparently died of starvation, and was discovered later by a moose hunter. His journal told part of his tale as he walked a mysterious and disturbing path.

This article looks at the myth that is Chris McCandless and the almost cult like status he has achieved. His camp site is still there, mostly like it was when it was found, and now many people make the trip to visit the spot where he died. Many of those making that pilgrimage want to believe that McCandless was something that they aspire to be. A person who lived life on the fringe of civilization, in a simple manner, with basic needs.

The film is set for release in just a few weeks. Sept. 21st to be exact. And I’m sure it’ll have many people talking about McCandless once more. Some people will say he was crazy, while others will say he was brave and strong, but one thing is for sure. The young man was a mystery, and his death still seems like a waste, even after all these years.

I’m interested in seeing how the film portrays the young man. Since Krakauer is involved with the screen play, and it’s based around his book, it’s likely he’ll be seen as the visionary hero charing his own course. But others saw him as a naive and deluded person who was just asking for disaster when he set out into that harsh wilderness on his own.

Considering the film is being made by Sean Penn, I’m expecting it to be a solid if not excellent adaptation. I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks, when this story is likely to be everywhere in the in the mainstream press once again.

Kraig Becker

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