Produced by Sean Penn, Art Linson, William Pohlad
Written by Sean Penn
Based on Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Narrated by Jena Malone
Starring Emile Hirsch, Marcia Gay Harden, William Hurt
Jena Malone, Catherine Keener, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart, Hal Holbrook
Music by Michael Brook, Kaki King, Eddie Vedder, Canned Heat
Cinematography Eric Gautier
Editing by Jay Cassidy
Studio Square One C.I.H., Linson Film, River Road Entertainment
Distributed by Paramount Vantage
Release date(s) September 21, 2007
The film is presented in a nonlinear narrative, jumping back and forth between McCandless's time spent in Alaskan wilderness and his two-year travels leading up to his journey to Alaska. The plot summary here is told in a more chronological order.
In May 1992, Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch) arrives in a remote area just north of the Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska and sets up a campsite in an abandoned bus. At first, McCandless is content with the isolation, the beauty of nature around him, and the thrill of living off the land. He hunts wild animals with a .22 caliber rifle, reads books, and keeps a diary of his thoughts as he prepares for himself a new life in the wild.
Two years earlier in May 1990, McCandless graduated with high honors from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Shortly afterwards, McCandless rejects his conventional life by destroying all of his credit cards and identification documents. He donates nearly all of his entire savings of $24,000 to Oxfam and sets out on a cross-country drive in his well-used, but reliable Datsun B210 to experience life in the wilderness. However, McCandless does not tell his parents Walt (William Hurt) and Billie McCandless (Marcia Gay Harden) nor his sister Carine (Jena Malone) what he is doing or where he is going, and refuses to keep in touch with them after his departure, leaving them to become increasingly anxious and eventually desperate.
At Lake Mead, Arizona, McCandless' car is caught in a flash flood causing him to abandon it and begin hitchhiking instead. He burns what remains of his dwindling cash supply and assumes a new name: "Alexander Supertramp." In Northern California, McCandless encounters a hippie couple named Jan Burres (Catherine Keener) and Rainey (Brian H. Dierker). Rainey tells McCandless about his failing relationship with Jan, which McCandless would rekindle. By September, McCandless stops in Carthage, South Dakota to work for a contract harvesting company owned by Wayne Westerberg (Vince Vaughn), but he is forced to leave after Westerberg is arrested for satellite piracy.
McCandless then travels to the Colorado River and, though told by park rangers that he may not kayak down the river without a license, ignores their warnings and paddles downriver until he eventually arrives in Mexico. There, his kayak is lost in a dust storm and he crosses back into the United States on foot. Unable to hitchhike, he starts traveling on freight trains to Los Angeles, California. Not long after arriving, however, he starts feeling "corrupted" by modern civilization and decides to leave. Later, McCandless is forced to switch his traveling method back to hitchhiking after he is beaten by the railroad police.
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