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Into the Wild
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySean Penn
Screenplay bySean Penn
Based onInto the Wild
by Jon Krakauer
Produced by
CinematographyEric Gautier
Edited byJay Cassidy
Music by
Distributed byParamount Vantage[1]
Release date
  • September 21, 2007 (2007-09-21)
Running time
148 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million[3]
Box office$56.8 million[3]

Into the Wild is a 2007 American biographical adventure drama film written, co-produced, and directed by Sean Penn. It is an adaptation of the 1996 non-fiction book of the same name written by Jon Krakauer and tells the story of Christopher McCandless ("Alexander Supertramp"), a man who hiked across North America into the Alaskan wilderness in the early 1990s. The film stars Emile Hirsch as McCandless, Marcia Gay Harden as his mother, William Hurt as his father, Jena Malone, Catherine Keener, Brian H. Dierker, Vince Vaughn, Kristen Stewart, and Hal Holbrook.

The film premiered during the 2007 Rome Film Fest and opened outside Fairbanks, Alaska, on September 21, 2007. It received critical acclaim and grossed $56 million worldwide. It was nominated for two Golden Globes and won the award for Best Original Song: "Guaranteed" by Eddie Vedder. It was also nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Editing and Best Supporting Actor for Holbrook.[4]


In April 1992, Chris McCandless arrives in a remote area called Healy, just north of Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska. Noting McCandless' unpreparedness, the man who drops him off gives him gumboots.

McCandless sets up camp in an abandoned city bus that he calls "The Magic Bus". He is content with the isolation, the beauty of nature, and the thrill of living off the land. He hunts with a .22, reads books, and keeps a journal as he prepares his new life in the wild.


In May 1990, McCandless graduates with high honors from Emory University. He is disenchanted with modern society after discovering he and his sister Carine were born out of wedlock.

McCandless destroys his credit cards and identification, donates his savings to Oxfam and sets out on a cross-country drive in his Datsun 210 to experience life in the wilderness. He does not tell his parents or Carine what he is doing or where he is going and does not contact them after his departure. This causes his parents to become increasingly anxious.

At Lake Mead, McCandless' car is caught in a flash flood; he abandons it and begins hitchhiking. Burning what remains of his cash, he assumes the name "Alexander Supertramp". In Northern California, McCandless encounters hippie couple Jan and Rainey. Rainey tells him his relationship with Jan is failing, which McCandless helps rekindle.

In September, McCandless arrives in Carthage, South Dakota, and works for a contract harvesting company owned by Wayne Westerberg. He leaves after Westerberg is arrested for satellite piracy.

McCandless kayaks down the Colorado River and, though told by park rangers he may not do so without a license, ignores their warnings and goes downriver to Mexico. His kayak is lost in a dust storm, and he crosses back into the United States on foot. Unable to hitch a ride, he jumps on freight trains to Los Angeles. Not long after arriving, however, he starts feeling "corrupted" by modern civilization and leaves. He is forced to resume hitchhiking when railroad police catch and beat him.

In December 1991, McCandless arrives at Slab City, in the Imperial Valley, and encounters Jan and Rainey again. He also meets Tracy Tatro, a teenage girl who shows interest in him, but he turns her down because she is a minor. After the holidays, McCandless continues heading for Alaska.

One month later, camping near Salton City, McCandless meets Ron Franz, a retired widower who lost his family in a car accident while he was serving in the United States Army. He leads a lonely life in a workshop as a leather worker. Franz teaches McCandless leatherwork, resulting in the making of a belt detailing his travels.

After two months with Franz, McCandless decides to leave for Alaska. Franz gives McCandless his old camping and travel gear, along with an offer to adopt him as his grandchild. McCandless tells him they should discuss it after he returns from Alaska.


Four months later, at the abandoned bus, life for McCandless becomes harder, and he makes several poor decisions. Trying to live off the land, he hunts down a large moose with his rifle, but cannot preserve the meat and it spoils within days. As his supplies dwindle, he realizes that nature can be harsh.

McCandless concludes that true happiness can be found only when shared with others, and he seeks to return from the wild to his friends and family. However, he finds that the stream he crossed during the winter has become wide, deep, and violent due to the thaw, and he is unable to cross. Defeated, he returns to the bus.

In a desperate act, McCandless gathers and eats roots and plants. He confuses similar plants and eats a poisonous one, falling sick as a result. Slowly dying, he continues to document his process of self-realization, and imagines what it might have been like if he had managed to return to his family. He writes a farewell note to the world and crawls into his sleeping bag to die.

Two weeks later, moose hunters find his body. Shortly afterwards, Carine returns to Virginia with her brother's ashes in her backpack.



The scenes of graduation from Emory University in the film were shot in late 2006 on the front lawn of Reed College. Some of the graduation scenes were also filmed during the actual Emory University graduation on May 15, 2006.[6] The Alaska scenes depicting the area around the abandoned bus on the Stampede Trail were filmed 50 miles (80 km) south of where McCandless actually died, in the tiny town of Cantwell. Filming at the actual bus would have been too remote for the technical demands of a movie shoot.[7] A replica bus used in the movie is now a tourist attraction at a restaurant in Healy, Alaska.[8]

Brian Dierker, who plays a major supporting role in the film as Rainey, had no previous acting experience and became involved in the production to be a guide for the rafting scenes.[9]


Critical response

The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 83% of 200 reviews of the film were positive, with an average rating of 7.50/10. The site's critics consensus reads: "With his sturdy cast and confident direction, Sean Penn has turned a complex work of nonfiction like Into the Wild into an accessible and poignant character study."[10] Metacritic assigned the film an average score of 73 out of 100 based on 38 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[11]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film four stars out of four and described it as "spellbinding". Ebert wrote that Emile Hirsch gives a "hypnotic performance", commenting: "It is great acting, and more than acting." Ebert added, "The movie is so good partly because it means so much, I think, to its writer-director, Sean Penn."[12]


Award Date of ceremony Category Recipients Result
Academy Awards[13] February 24, 2008 Best Supporting Actor Hal Holbrook Nominated
Best Film Editing Jay Cassidy Nominated
Golden Globe Awards[14] January 13, 2008 Best Original Song – Motion Picture "Guaranteed" Won
Best Original Score – Motion Picture Michael Brook, Kaki King, Eddie Vedder Nominated
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 7, 2008 Best Film Into the Wild Nominated
Best Actor Emile Hirsch Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Hal Holbrook Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Catherine Keener Nominated
Best Director Sean Penn Nominated
Best Writer Nominated
Best Song "Guaranteed" Nominated
American Cinema Editors February 17, 2008 Best Edited Feature Film – Dramatic Jay Cassidy Nominated
César Awards February 27, 2009 Best Foreign Film Into the Wild Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards December 13, 2007 Best Picture Nominated
Best Screenplay – Adapted Sean Penn Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Hal Holbrook Nominated
Cinema Audio Society February 16, 2008 Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Motion Pictures Nominated
Directors Guild of America Awards January 26, 2008 Best Director – Film Sean Penn Nominated
Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards February 1, 2008 Best Foreign Film – English Language Nominated
Gotham Awards November 27, 2007 Best Feature Film Into the Wild Won
Breakthrough Actor Emile Hirsch Nominated
Grammy Awards February 10, 2008 Best Song Written for Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media "Guaranteed" Nominated
Mill Valley Film Festival October 14, 2007 Best Actor Emile Hirsch Won
National Board of Review December 5, 2007 Breakthrough Performance – Male Won
Palm Springs International Film Festival January 5, 2008 Director of the Year Award Sean Penn Won
Rising Star Award Actor Emile Hirsch Won
Rome Film Festival October 27, 2007 Jury Award William Pohlad, Art Linson and Sean Penn Won
São Paulo International Film Festival November 1, 2007 Best Foreign Language Film Sean Penn Won
Satellite Awards December 16, 2007 Best Original Song "Rise" Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards January 27, 2008 Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture The cast of Into the Wild Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role Emile Hirsch Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role Hal Holbrook Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Catherine Keener Nominated
USC Scripter Award February 2, 2008 USC Scripter Award Sean Penn (screenwriter), Jon Krakauer (author) Nominated
Writers Guild of America Awards February 9, 2008 Best Adapted Screenplay Sean Penn Nominated

Top ten lists

The American Film Institute listed the film as one of ten AFI Movies of the Year for 2007.[15][16]

National Board of Review named it one of the Top Ten Films of the Year.[17]

Into the Wild also ranks 473rd in Empire magazine's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time.[18]

The film appeared on many critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2007.[19]

Box office

In North America, Into the Wild initially opened in limited release in four theaters and grossed $212,440, posting a per-theater average of $53,110. For the next several weeks, the film remained in limited release until it expanded to over 600 theaters on October 19, 2007; in its first weekend of wide release, the film grossed just $2.1 million for a per-theater average of $3,249. As of December 25, 2008, the film grossed $18,354,356 domestically and $37,281,398 internationally. In total, the film has grossed $55,635,754 worldwide.[24]

Home media

Into the Wild was released on March 4, 2008, on standard DVD,[25] Two-Disc Special Collector's Edition DVD,[26] and standard HD DVD.[27] The special edition DVD and HD DVD contain two special features entitled The Story, The Characters and The Experience. The Blu-ray Disc edition was released in France on July 16, 2008.[28] The Blu-ray edition for the US was released on December 16, 2008.[29]


Main article: Into the Wild (soundtrack)

The songs on the soundtrack were performed by Eddie Vedder, lead singer of Pearl Jam, and Jerry Hannan. Vedder won a Golden Globe for Best Original Song for the song "Guaranteed". The score was written and performed by Michael Brook and Kaki King. The music at the end of the theatrical trailer is "Acts of Courage" by X-Ray Dog, a company that supplies music for many movie trailers. Eddie Vedder said whilst writing the songs on the album "I spent three days giving him (Sean Penn) colors that I could paint with. Different sounds. It would be pump organ and vocal, or it would be an uptempo song. I just gave him 25 minutes of music, stuff I felt that were colors on the palette. And I really didn't think anything was gonna come out of it. Maybe a little piece or something".[30]


The abandoned and decaying bus on the Stampede Trail where McCandless died became a pilgrimage destination for fans. In the 1940s, a road crew had taken the bus to a remote trail in Denali Borough, Alaska, 30 miles (50 km) from the nearest town, according to Denali Borough Mayor Clay Walker. Visitors had to cross the dangerous Teklanika River. In 2010, a Swiss woman drowned.[31] In 2019, a newlywed Belarusian woman drowned in the swollen river on her way to the site. Five Italians were rescued in February 2020, with one suffering from severe frostbite, and a stranded Brazilian was rescued in April 2020. In total, 15 search and rescue operations for visitors were carried out between 2009 and 2017.

On June 18, 2020, the bus was removed due to public safety concerns. It was air-lifted by a US Army Chinook helicopter to an undisclosed location pending a decision about its final destination.[32][33] On September 24, 2020, the Museum of The North[34] at the University of Alaska (Fairbanks) announced that it had become the permanent home of Magic Bus 142, to be restored for an outdoor exhibit.[35]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Into the Wild". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Archived from the original on October 6, 2016. Retrieved June 27, 2017.
  2. ^ "View Title". Archived from the original on 2015-02-14. Retrieved 2015-02-13.
  3. ^ a b "Into the Wild (2007)". Nash Information Services. Archived from the original on 2018-10-25. Retrieved 2018-10-25.
  4. ^ "'Into the Wild' premieres in Fairbanks". Anchorage Daily News. September 4, 2007. Archived from the original on September 14, 2008. Retrieved July 17, 2008. The debut of "Into the Wild", a movie directed by Sean Penn about a 24-year-old man who starved to death in the Alaska wilderness, drew a packed house Monday night.
  5. ^ "Incredible last words of the man who hiked into the wild and never came back". Unilad. 17 September 2023.
  6. ^ "Remake of "Nerds" Film Scrapped". The Emory Wheel. Archived from the original on 2008-12-18. Retrieved 2008-01-29.
  7. ^ "The Cult of Chris McCandless". Men's Journal. Archived from the original on June 8, 2008. Retrieved August 2, 2008.
  8. ^ "See the "Into the Wild" replica bus from the movie". Trip Advisor. Archived from the original on 2017-12-27. Retrieved 2015-07-15.
  9. ^ Staff, ANDY WADEDaily Sun (19 October 2007). "Flagstaff native and Grand Canyon boatman Brian Dierker played an integral part in 'Into the Wild,'". Arizona Daily Sun. Archived from the original on 2021-05-21. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  10. ^ "Into the Wild (2007)". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on February 21, 2021. Retrieved February 17, 2021.
  11. ^ "Into the Wild (2007) Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on December 25, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2007.
  12. ^ Roger Ebert (September 29, 2007). "Into the Wild (xhtml)". Chicago Sun-Times. Archived from the original on October 8, 2012. Retrieved December 31, 2007.
  13. ^ "The Oscars 2008". BBC News. BBC. February 25, 2008. Retrieved August 18, 2011.
  14. ^ "The Golden Globe Awards". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on April 29, 2018. Retrieved April 24, 2016.
  15. ^ "No Country for Old Men, Juno named to AFI's Top 10 of year". CBC. December 17, 2007. Archived from the original on January 8, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2007.
  16. ^ "AFI Awards 2007". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved 2009-01-10.
  17. ^ "Top Ten Films". National Board of Review. Archived from the original on 2 February 2004. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  18. ^ "Empire's 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time". Archived from the original on 2011-10-28. Retrieved 2020-04-28.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Metacritic: 2007 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Archived from the original on January 2, 2008. Retrieved January 1, 2008.
  20. ^ "Ben Lyons' Top 10 Films of 2007 – Photo Gallery". E!. Archived from the original on December 18, 2008. Retrieved July 23, 2008.
  21. ^ Travers, Peter, (December 19, 2007) "Peter Travers' Best and Worst Movies of 2007" Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 20, 2007
  22. ^ a b David Germain; Christy Lemire (December 27, 2007). "'No Country for Old Men' earns nod from AP critics". Associated Press, via Columbia Daily Tribune. Archived from the original on January 3, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2007.
  23. ^ "Metacritic: 2007 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Archived from the original on January 9, 2008. Retrieved November 13, 2011.
  24. ^ "Into the Wild (2007)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on December 18, 2008. Retrieved December 25, 2008.
  25. ^ "Into the Wild". 4 March 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-03-07. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  26. ^ " Into the Wild (Two-Disc Special Collector's Edition)". 4 March 2008. Archived from the original on 2023-01-12. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  27. ^ "Into The Wild [HD DVD]". 4 March 2008. Archived from the original on 2023-01-12. Retrieved 2017-09-01.
  28. ^ "Cinéma et Séries TV". MYTF1News. Archived from the original on 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2008-05-18.
  29. ^ "'Into the Wild' Coming to Blu-ray". Archived from the original on 2008-09-25. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
  30. ^ Whitney, Pastorek (14 September 2007). "Eddie Vedder on his solo soundtrack work". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on 2 December 2016. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  31. ^ "Woman drowns trying to ford Teklanika River". Anchorage Daily News. 2010-08-17. Archived from the original on 2017-08-16. Retrieved 2022-02-24.
  32. ^ "'Into The Wild' bus removed from Alaska wilderness". BBC News. 19 June 2020. Archived from the original on 19 June 2020. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  33. ^ "Abandoned bus famous from film 'Into The Wild' airlifted from Alaska's wilderness over safety fears". The Telegraph. 19 June 2020. Archived from the original on 2021-11-07.
  34. ^ "Museum of The North". University of Alaska. Archived from the original on 2020-09-25. Retrieved 2020-09-27.
  35. ^ Osborne, Ryan (24 September 2020). "Famous McCandless 'Bus 142' moved to UAF's Museum of the North". Archived from the original on 2020-09-25. Retrieved 2020-09-25.