Is Into the Wild the most misunderstood film of all time?

2007’s Into the Wild is a movie about a 23-year-old who heads off into the Alaskan wilderness alone and dies. The central message of the movie is that ‘happiness is best when shared’. However, what many people take away from it is that Christopher McCandless was a tragic hero and that they should, to a certain extent, emulate what he has done and follow in his footsteps. McCandless has become a larger-than-life symbol, his death is seen as almost transcending. People cherry-pick aspects from the movie that resonates with them, which usually means: ‘escape society and head off into the wilderness alone’. In fact, so many people went on a pilgrimage to Bus 142, the location where McCandless ultimately died, that they had to put the movie bus in Healy to discourage people to undertake this pilgrimage.

There’s still the original bus in the wilderness, (the bus has since been relocated to a museum) though, and people have actually died trying to reach it. One woman drowned in the same river that trapped McCandless. There are certainly parts of the movie that are worth taking to heart. There is nothing wrong with seeking adventure or doing something by yourself to find out who you are (as long as you tell someone where you’re going!).

But this is not a heroic story about a man who broke free from the shackles of society, who discovered true freedom and who transcended life. It’s a story about a student who was deeply troubled, who sought a temporary escape, who ultimately realized that he had acted quite idiotic and felt the happiest when he was with other people, and then passed away. This movie should inspire you to spend more time with family and maybe go on a little adventure every now and then, not to idolize McCandless and repeat his mistakes. H/T>

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