06 July 2008

Look within

Into the Wild is about a young man who wants to avenge himself by running away from his parents, their materialism (basically everything they stand for), home, and society in general. A lot of teenagers think about doing that, and some do it, too. But Christopher McCandless redefines running away by going to Alaska, because he wants to be absolutely sure he will never be found. And he never is, not alive at least.

He’s running away from a lot of childhood trauma brought on by his constantly fighting parents. His pain is so intense that he cannot think and act like mainstream people do. On his way to Alaska, he meets different and interesting people and some insightful experiences happen. I especially liked what Ron, the old man, tells Chris, “When you forgive, you love. And when you love, God's light shines upon you.”

Almost the entire movie is about is trying to wish away, nullify or deny some hurtful memories/people. His entire endeavour of running away is shaped or motivated by two people he desperately wants out of his life. When you do such a thing, you have not overcome it. It’s like you owe your entire existence to the pain. You are shaped by exactly the person or thing you hate or want to avoid. But then, what do you do when something bites inside you? Everything you do will naturally be driven by that pain, wont it? What do you do to overcome that pain? Hard questions, no easy answers.

When ‘rubber tramp’ Jan tells him that he should not be so hard on his parents, Chris says, “I'm going to paraphrase Thoreau here... rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness... give me truth.”

So, what is truth? Or, should I rather say, what is the truth for Mr McCandless?
“Happiness is real when shared.” (This is the last thing that he jots down in his diary.) Is that his truth? And does he realize this truth only because he forgave his parents? So, the thing he was running away from was right within…?

Certain things this movie made me think of: if, say, there are people in similar life-situations who cannot walk away and have to face pain each day. How do they realize their truths (if at all there’s one to be realized)? What are their truths? Are they vastly different from McCandless’?

A thoughtful movie, well made. I loved the background music, too.


Praveen R. Bhat said...

Sounds like an interesting movie, but as I understand, the title seems a misnomer after all. From the story you share, it doesn't sound much of a philosophical or even a religious search. Its more of a negative emotion, a smashAna vairAgya (that is, "running away" not based on right attitude). Therefore, the movie appears to be looking outside and not within! Else truth wouldn't have been a plural, but a singular Truth; everything else is a fact, not truth.

Thanks much.

Viju said...

The title of my post is actually asking the protagonist of the movie to 'look within', because he's obviously not looking there, as you pointed out.

About truth vs. truths, cant say anything for sure.

But watch the movie if you can. Let's see if I can send a copy to you :)

Praveen R. Bhat said...

Whoops, sorry... I misunderstood the title of the movie as Look Within instead of Into the Wild! (In my defense, I was running fever ;) Anyway, except for the stupid comment on the title, I stand by what I said otherwise. :)

Now I remember the movie; I confirmed by looking it up on inthewild.com. My friend left the original DVD with me, but I couldn't watch it since the DVD's US version :'( He said that the photography's amazing. I wanna hack it sometime though.