into the wild is a beautiful film adaptation (by sean penn) of jon krakauer's popular nonfiction book, of which i read only an excerpt in rolling stone or esquire or gq, years + years ago.
the film offers a dispassionate (which is not to say 'grim') look at a number of themes + issues, which are usually used to generate sentimental responses--family, idealism, freedom, nature.
what is interesting in this film is its lack of moralizing about any of these issues. its point of view is dispassionate because largely its point is that ...
--family is a more impersonal arrangement than anyone likes to admit, yet it is deeply seeded in our personal identities;
--idealism saves nobody--the higher, purer stratosphere of values + ideals (perhaps one of the symbolisms of the images of jets flying high overhead, which occur as a refrain throughout the movie) are as cold + oxygenless as the earth's actual stratosphere--+ yet a life without idealism is a life without character of any kind;
--freedom is isolating + not necessarily conducive to human happiness, though it is necessary to human authenticity + self-knowledge; +
--we can love nature, but nature is indifferent to us--our proper response to the natural world should not be condescending sentiment or custodial pride, but abject awe.
brilliant natural performances by all the actors (especially emile hirsch in the lead), a lovely screenplay written by penn, + imagery that in turn startles, troubles, + uplifts.