Thursday, 16 December 2010

The wild.

A while ago I watched a documentary on TV about a guy called Ed Wardle who went off alone into the Canadian wilderness to survive for three months and film his adventure. It was a compulsive but harrowing story as he almost starved and became emotionally unstable due to the solitude and his deteriorating physical condition.
  I googled Wardle afterwards and while reading background about him also read about a guy called Chris McCandless who had hiked into the Alaskan backcountry in 1992 aiming to survive alone and with very little equipment and few resources. His story was turned into a book by American author Jon Krakauer (one of whose books I'd read previously). McCandless's tale ended in tragedy as he starved to death while living in an old school bus that had been abandoned in the wilderness, his body was discovered by moose hunters two weeks after his death. He has subsequently become something of an iconic if controversial figure (some people believe he was stupid to do what he did without making better preparations). Krakauer's book (Into the Wild) was made into a film in 2007 by Sean Penn and it was shown on Film4 tonight.
   To be honest I'd forgotten about McCandless but when I saw that the film was on it reminded me of his tale and I had to watch it. It was very good and I think I'll have to get my hands on the book to read as well now.
This is a self portrait of Chris McCandless taken outside the bus that his body was discovered in. The picture was on an undeveloped film in his camera.
As an update to this post, I received a copy of "Into the Wild" as a Christmas present and read it over Xmas day and Boxing day. It was an easy and enjoyable read but a little packed out in places with Krakauer's own exploits and comparisons between McCandless and other people who had met a similar fate. I do feel  Krakauer's portrayal of McCandless was very sympathetic and I can understand why some have criticised the book for being too lenient. I can't help feeling that McCandless displayed a degree of arrogance and lack of consideration but he seems to have been very charismatic and made a deep impression on those he met. All in all, I'm glad I read "Into the Wild". 

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