Chris McCandless decides he’s not destined to live by proxy any longer. Disillusioned by a world of “things”, where people, he judges, are unnecessarily cruel to one another, he decides to leave for a destination of his own choosing – freedom. For 140 minutes, we’re along for the journey, although it’s anything but an adventure.
For a long time, it’s perhaps one of the most romantic road films I’ve ever seen – similar to The Motorcycle Diaries, but somehow more personal. Chris’ adventures are limited only by his own will, and he creates a world for himself where nothing is out of bounds. The people he meets share many of his ideals; jaded by the world that’s been built around them, they offer some compelling arguments for me to pack my own bag and hitchhike around the world.
Alaskan Park Ranger Peter Christian has said, “When you consider McCandless from my perspective, you quickly see that what he did wasn’t even particularly daring, just stupid, tragic, and inconsiderate.” Such is the pursuit of romance, and suddenly I’d rather stay at home.
And although he is at no point unlikeable, Chris’ disregard for the people that care about him – driven by ironic selfishness and cruelty-by-ignorance – makes it difficult to watch him unravel. This is a man whose journey is defined by the people he spends it with – many of them explorers like himself – but he won’t listen to the reason that so many try to give him. Life is about the people you spend it with. This is a warning as much as it is a love story.