New Award for 2011
Into the Wild
Director: Sean Penn
Screenplay: Sean Penn
Producer: Sean Penn
Distributor: Paramount Vantage
UK release: 2007
Into the Wild: what's the story?
The film is based on the true story of Christopher McCandless, who, after graduating from university, leaves his family and possessions behind and hitchhikes to Alaska to live in the wilderness. The 20 months he spends travelling take him all over America. He kayaks down the Grand Canyon into Mexico, labours in the fields of South Dakota, spends time in a hippie commune, hikes through the Californian desert and learns the art of leatherwork from a war veteran who wants to adopt him as his grandchild.
When Chris reaches Alaska, he sets up camp in an abandoned bus, and at first is thrilled by the beauty of nature and the excitement of living off the land. But he finds that life - and isolation - is much tougher than he expected. As he struggles to survive, he decides to return home, but the stream he crossed in winter has become a raging river in spring and he finds himself trapped. Desperate to escape, he pins a note to the bus begging for someone to rescue him, but before help can come he mistakenly eats some poisonous berries and dies.
Who's in Into the Wild?
Emile Hirsch, Vince Vaughn, Catherine Keener, Kristen Stewart and Hal Holbrook.
Where's Into the Wild set?
The Daily Telegraph's Sukhdev Sandhu described the film as "exquisitely shot - a love song to the ancient, endless variety of greater America, its savage beauty and joyous ferocity." Alaska, where McCandless eventually ends up, is heaven for anyone passionate about nature. You can drive a team of sled dogs, ride in a horse-drawn sleigh or take a helicopter tour of a glacier. For those who are into outdoor pursuits, there's rafting, kayaking, hiking, mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, fishing and jet boat rides. Or go on a sightseeing cruise and glimpse whales, seals, sea otters, mountain goats, bears and puffins in the wild.
What awards has Into the Wild won?
The film was nominated for two Oscars. It won a Golden Globe for best original song, and best feature film in the Gotham Awards.
What do the reviews say about Into the Wild?
Film website Rotten Tomatoes said: "With his sturdy cast and confident direction, Sean Penn has turned a complex work of non-fiction into an accessible and poignant character study." The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw wrote: "Sean Penn has achieved a new maturity and depth as a director with this movie," while the Telegraph's Sukhdev Sandhu described it as a "majestic travelogue - the best film the writer-director has ever made."