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into the wild

The thing that struck me about Into the Wild wasn't the desperation at the end.

Nor the beauty during the rest of the movie. Although there was some serious scenery and some truly touching moments, it was something else that struck me. It was the way that the perception others (in the movie as well as in the audience) had of the main character changed depending on his surroundings. When he was in the wild, he seemed at home in terms of style. Wild hair, ever-present stubble/beard, disheveled, dirty. This is what it is like to be in the wild.

At some point, he went to a major city and I was completely taken aback at how destitute he looked. Instead of having that feeling of freedom and the scent of trial and tribulation, he had the look of someone who had been beaten down. It was not just due to his interactions, it was due to the juxtaposition (Thanks Mrs. Lipsky!) of the straight lines of the man-made world with the crooked, crazy lines of the larger world.

Nothing in the wild was straight as a board. Not even the horizon. Even it had the grace to curve. This included Alexander/Chris's appearance. There were no clean lines on his face. Everything was obscured, save for the cheek bones. And the eyes. They were always clear and clean. Piercing.

But that change from fitting in with the surrounding area in a life of slight chaos to completely sticking out past the borders provided by the tall buildings and straight roads was simply jarring. No longer at home or free, he predictably pushed away from that life once again. He didn't fit there. It didn't fit him.

He was not coloring between the lines. He was painting a broad expanse of canvas. Seemingly limitless, and the choice of which part to paint and which part to ignore was his and his alone. The trick of the movie is that you can feel that sense without feeling like you must travel to Alaska and the wild with only what you take with you. You can paint the infinite canvas of your life however you please. With whatever colors you like, without respect to the lines that other put down for you.

The trouble, as always, is determining what you want to paint and convincing yourself that you can accomplish the task.

(I'm going to read the book soon. I'm excited about it.)

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"He's just this guy, you know?"