Into the Wild: No, it did not inspire me to travel

Buffalo in Kruger Park South Africa are running a poll to find out what people think is the most inspiring travel film; take a look at the Holiday Extras Customer Awards page to find out ore about the category. There are some great films on the list that I can imagine might inspire someone to travel, but there’s one that I can’t see encouraging anyone to go anywhere and that’s ‘Into the Wild’.

So, I understand the concept behind the film; a young American from a very affluent family forgoes his wealth in an effort to get in touch with nature. He ends up literally throwing himself into the wild, as the title would suggest, and we follow him as he struggles to survive. Nice critique on the entrapments of capitalist living, sure, inspirational travel film, no.

Why? Not only does the protagonist face all sorts of horrendous challenges, from falling victim to robbery to almost dying of hypothermia, but he also dies at the end (sorry for the spoiler). How many people are going to watch a film about a boy’s gruelling experience of the natural world which, as he tries to embrace it, kills him, and think ‘Yes, I’ll give that a try.’ I think very few.

I can understand the thinking behind its nomination in this poll… boy goes into wild, discovers beauty of nature and so on, and if he didn’t die I think there would be more support for it. But he does die and from eating rotted meat. So all those who were considering travelling but were worried about new things or maybe even more specifically worrying about the food this film won’t help! It doesn’t make trying new things; exploring; adventure or even nature look worth it. There are lots of inspirational scenes when he discovers majestic natural beauty but I think they’re far outweighed by the gruesome death and prolonged hypothermia.

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11 Comments on “Into the Wild: No, it did not inspire me to travel”

  1. I agree…it doesn’t make for a film that makes you excited to travel. The theme is the naive idealism of youth. SPOILER ALERT (it’s non-fiction, so I’m not sure if spoilers matter), he becomes a ‘tramp’ and travels around western US, before setting off to Alaska to live off the land. There he freezes like this post says. In the book it goes on to greater detail on the cause of his death. When he was foraging, he found wild potatoes and ate them. He had some botany book on edible plants but he misread it, or something, because autopsies reveal he died from a slow poisoning caused by his diet. Our common potatoes belong to the nightshade family of plants, which includes many poisonous species. Even the vines and sprouts on edible potatoes are poisonous. Neat fact, but overall I don’t recommend the book too highly.

  2. I disagree. Yes he dies, but to me that shows what happens when you get in over your head. Most people who have faced horrendous challenges look back on them fondly as learning experiences later in life (as long as they’re still living that is!).

    I think his death completes the movie well. Challenge is good for the soul, but it IS possible to go too far. It’s a real-life lesson that you can learn from someone else’s mistake.

    But to each his own!

  3. I agree, it’s not a motivational travel film nor would I have ever considered it to be one. I read the book several years ago and recently watched the movie. IMO Chris McCandless was a rich arrogant naive snot! Pretty much ignored everything that was common sense and did a lot of things wrong. I’m amazed he survived as long as he did. I could ramble on longer but I’ll get off my box now.

  4. I can understand how someone might see this as an unmotivational or antimotivational travel film. But for me it was a reminder that life is fleeting, and took take chances. I’m certainly not saying the way McCandless went about his journey was the best way, obviously it wasn’t. But for me it was a reminder that you only have one life, and so you need to go out and live it.

  5. Very true! I never really thought about it before.. I always see it on those travel movie lists. It’s not exactly a good example of traveling if all he does is try to get away from people. Half the fun of travel is exploring new cultures and meeting new people! It’s still a pretty great movie/book.. but I think you are right!

  6. ‘Into the Wild’ is the most inspirational book/film I’ve ever encountered (he doesn’t die from eating spoiled meat – I’m not sure where that idea came from.) But I recently did a post about why Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ doesn’t inspire me at all. So these kinds of things are very subjective and personal, and it’s cool to hear the full range of opinions.

  7. Thanks for your comments everyone. As I didn’t write this post, nor have I seen the movie or read the book, I can’t really say anything in reply. You have all definitely made me want to check it out though!!

    • Esha Putra

      you should watch the movie or read the book…
      it kinda bit controversial to be a favorite travel film…

  8. I think the movie is inspiritional for adventure.

  9. I have spent the last 5 years of my life travelling..for myself Into The Wild inspires we completely…it makes me feel an urgency, a need to get out there and travel and experience things even though I am already doing it. Incredible to see that some people think otherwise, very interesting because the film captured me completely.

    • I really need to go and see this movie. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it, you definitely make it sound inspiring

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