Into the Wild: book vs. movie

Into the Wild by John Krakauer

Paraphrased from Goodreads

In April 1992, a young man from a well-to-do family hitchhiked to Alaska and walked alone into the wilderness north of Mt. McKinley. His name was Chris McCandless. He had given $25,000 in savings to charity. In the Mojave Desert he abandoned his car, stripped it of its license plates, burned all of his cash, and invented a new life for himself. Four months later, a party of moose hunters found his decomposed body. How McCandless came to die is the unforgettable story of Into the Wild.

Book rating: 2.5/5
Movie rating: 4(ish)/5

This was required reading for me in grade 12 as our novel study even though it’s nonfiction. Tbh, I didn’t enjoy it all that much. I enjoyed the conversation about it, and I enjoyed writing essays criticizing McCandless, but the book just didn’t click with me. It was definitely super interesting to see all the people McCandless managed to connect and reconnect with on his journey. For me, they were really the highlight of the book.

My main issue with the book is honestly the author. Krakauer attempted to relate the book to himself too many times. There’s an entire chapter where Krakauer talks about how he feels he understands McCandless, because once he (Krakauer) burned down his tent while camping because he was high. It just seemed unnecessary. I would’ve enjoyed it more, I think, if it was more focused on the story of Chris and the people around him.

However, the movie is fairly good. It goes back and forth between Chris being in Alaska, and pre-Alaska when he was wandering America. I really liked that format, and I thought it worked really well for this movie.

The movie also managed to capture Chris’ stupidity really well, which I think is lost in the book. Honestly though, Chris McCandless was a spoiled rich white kid who was trying to survive in the wild with minimal experience. It’s honestly somewhat insulting to Mother Nature. I thought Krakauer really glossed over that and painted McCandless as a martyr or hero, whereas the movie did not. They didn’t vilify him, but his selfishness and inexperience were definitely portrayed fairly.

(see: the moose scene. It’s a really disturbing scene, but I think it really shows that Chris was a child who had no idea what he was doing. And that Mother Nature will always win.)

The movie is also beautifully shot, and the soundtrack is fantastic (I would die for Eddie Vedder, just so you know). Hard Sun is arguably one of the best songs ever written and I WILL fight you on that.

Overall, I highly recommend the movie (probably 3.75/5 stars), but I don’t really recommend the book. It’s fine, but there are better books out there (ex. the Escapist by Brett Popplewell and Gabriel Filippi)

Thanks for reading xx

9 thoughts on “Into the Wild: book vs. movie

  1. I’ve only read the book and felt like I realized how reckless and stupid Chris was, but I might’ve gotten that from other articles I’ve read tbh. Completely agree that the author includes too much of himself and things not related to Chris story, to make it book-length as not too much info is clear. This made me reconsider seeing the movie though!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve heard of this book before, but I hadn’t heard of Chris’s story prior to my first time hearing about this book. It does sound like an interesting story (and WHAT on Earth would convince someone who knew nothing about nature that he could survive in the wild IN ALASKA?!?!?!) but I’ll skip the book. Nice review!

    Liked by 1 person

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