The Call of the Wild (2007)

Genres - Culture & Society, Nature  |   Sub-Genres - Biography, Natural Environments  |   Run Time - 115 min.  |   Countries - Canada, Mexico, USA  |  
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The sad story of Christopher McCandless inspired numerous speculative articles, a nonfiction tome (Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild), a big-screen cinematization directed by Sean Penn, and now, this documentary, written and helmed by filmmaker Ron Lamothe, who climbs inside of McCandless's final years for a haunting and heartbreaking investigation of the young man's fall from grace. A Emory University graduate from a financially affluent family, reportedly transfixed by the literature of belletrists Henry David Thoreau, Leo Tolstoy and Jack London, McCandless dreamed, like his literary heroes, of living life off of the land, free of the accoutrements and luxuries wrought by contemporary western civilization. In April 1992, McCandless actualized that dream: he donated his $24,000 savings to charity, relinquished all of his material possessions including his car, and hitchhiked to Alaska. Four months later, a moose hunter stumbled onto a dilapidated schoolbus and McCandless's starved, frozen-to-death and partially decomposed body inside. With Call of the Wild, Lamothe himself hits the road and takes a lengthy trek across thirty U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, and much of Mexico, interviewing in depth some individuals who knew the young man, some who didn't know him but merely felt inspired by him, and still others who still resent McCandless and everything he stood for. Lamothe's path also crosses several times with that of Sean Penn during the making of the latter's feature. In the process, Lamothe not only explores many themes introduced by the McCandless tale - such as man's never ending quest for nature and the chasm of ideals between the Baby Boomers and Gen X/Gen Y - but, intriguingly, reaches a conclusion about the reasons for McCandless's ultimate which contradicts both Penn's film and Krakauer's book.

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Keywords

Alaska, naturalist, bus, civilization, cross-country, death, dream, ideals, naivete