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Into the Wild - Blu-ray DVD / action adventure DVD / drama DVD / adaptation DVD review
INTO THE WILD Rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 4 1/2 stars
Actors: Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt, Jena Malone, Catherine Keener
Director: Sean Penn Distributor: Paramount
DVD release: 16 December 2008 Runtime: 148 min.
(1 disc)
Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Subtitled, Widescreen, Blu-ray
DVD features: 1080p High Definition, Aspect ratio 2.35:1, Audio tracks (5.1 Dolby True HD - English; Dolby Digital 5. 1 - French, Portugese, Spanish), Subtitles (English, French, Spanish, Portugese), Into the Wild: The Story / The Characters, Into the Wild: The Experience, Theatrical trailer

In 1992, Chris McCandless's body was found in an abandoned bus near Denali National Park, Alaska. He'd arrived there nearly four months earlier to escape the trappings of materialism and society. He'd done as expected by graduating from College at Emory University, but didn't want to get chained to a career, so he gave about $24,000 in savings to Oxfam, cut up his Social Security card, ID, and credit cards, burned his cash, and disappeared. He took the name Alexander Supertramp as a new monicker and traveled to Alaska.

Sean Penn's film was 10 years in the making, and it is a work of beauty. Emile Hirsch plays McCandless, an intelligent, charismatic and intuitive 24-year-old who touches the lives of many people along his journey, and they touch him. McCandless happens upon a couple of hippies who tell him he is a leather - short for leather tramp, one who travels by foot. The hippies, Rainey (Brian Dierker) and Jan (Catherine Keener), are rubber tramps - they have wheels. They take him in for a time, and he meets them later in Slab City, a free RV Oasis in the California desert. When they grow comfortable with him, he must go. This touches Jan most, because she has a son somewhere in the world whom she hasn't seen in years.

McCandless stays for a time with Ron Franz (Hal Holbrook). An older fellow who lost his wife and son in a drunk driving accident years before, he shares his home with Chris for a while before Chris must leave. McCandless touches the lives of so many people, though he seems to overlook that they are touching his life, too. People implore him to get in touch with his parents, but he bears a strong grudge.

His parents, Billie (Marcia Gay Harden) and Walt (William Hurt), are seriously hurt by his absence. They lament and are left to wonder if the people they see on the streets are their son. His sister, Carine (Jena Malone), perhaps the person he's closest to, is also left without a clue.

Into the Wild, like the bestselling book by Jon Krakauer's best-selling book upon which it's based, celebrates the life of Chris McCandless. We see the beauty of nature and get itchy feet. Like Kerouac's On the Road, or London's Call of the Wild, it awakens something about our nature that wants to rough it - to hit the open road and leave ill-prepared. To match one's wits against nature and see how we fare. That may explain McCandless' short life.

The Blu-ray edition of Into the Wild includes two featurettes (Into the Wild: The Story, The Characters and Into the Wild: The Experience), and the theatrical trailer. Perhaps a future release will bulk up on the paucity of supplemental materials.
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reviewed by Eric Renshaw
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