This movie is produced by Paramount Vintage and River Road Entertainment.
First of all, I would like to say thanks to my students, Asma Alhusna, Hayyi Mitalaksari, Desi Marlina, Lisdawati, Nova Fitri Yanti, Nidawati, and Sari Nurvianti for choosing this movie for your own last assignment. The movie is great and I liked it in some ways. Despite the movie is a bit closer to a psychological status of a young man, but, since you studied Cross Cultural Understanding with me, then, you deserved to get the best score from me. Anyway,
for the other groups, just wait for my critical analysis on movie, just as the same as you will read in this post. I write this critical analysis to lead you to the way I saw the movie in my perspective. And, I believe that you have your own, and what you did in your assignment was almost more than enough.
Keep studying smartly everyone!
————————————– Syayid 22 February 2010.
After watching this movie, the main character that the movie presented was Christopher Johnson McCandles or latter called as Alexander Supertramp (Emile Hirsch), then, the second main important characters were the father of Chris, that was Mr. Walt (William Hurt), the mother of Chris (Marcia G Hayden) and Carine, the Chris’ sibling (Jena Malone). The other characters in this movie were shown to be strengthened the meaning of Chris’ personal
life revolution. For example, when he met Rainey and Jane at the time when he was in Northern California around 1990 and he also met Joni Mitchell, who liked him so much, as well as the Old Ron, who wanted to adopt Chris to be his grandchild when he met Chris at March 22, 1992.
This movie, if it is seen through the aspect of the characterization, it has a strong visualization of the main character. Even though the movie was reproduced from the true story, in some aspects, it had a great deal of making the main character as alive as it was. For a common viewer, it might be not that serious to watch a man in that kind of way of life, that was running from thing that people in general called as a life. Conversely, for the critical viewer, this movie would be another way of presenting how thankful we should, or as it must, to everything that God has given to us, including the family that we have since we were a child. In this scene, the main character would seem to have a personal and emotional conflict within himself as the ready-to-grow-up young man. In spite of that, the visualization and the setting has made this movie as a psychologically challenging to be discussed in a class.
The Plot of the Story of the Movie
Even though the setting was originally in the American continent, like Northern California and Lake Mead in Arizona, the plot was a bit confusing for the first time. However, when the movie has reached some parts of Chris’ psychological growing, then, the plot was getting clearer. It was that the movie was told in the flashback mode. It could be seen from the way the story was arranged. This was, as it could be assumed, that the movie itself was performed on-screen by after the sequence of Chris diary, or from the story of Chris family after they found the death of Chris in the magic bus. Out of that things, the flashback plot had made the presentation of Chris’ ideas and way of thinking about himself and the nature in which he was living was in a controversial stage.
The controversiality that the movie had shown was extremely based on the process of how Chris had that kind of rare mind. He would have that thing because of many external factors, but, deep inside, he had a pain in his heart to know the life that he was trying to cope. The misery was started when Chris graduated from the college. He was suddenly having an idea of personal freedom and the higher desire to feel the life of living in a wilderness. Everything that his parents wanted to give to him for free, just as the love of all parents in the world to make their son or daughter happy, was rejected by saying, “I don’t need things, things, and things”
In that stage, it was quite obvious to see that Chris had a personal discomfort to his family except his sister, who always saw him as the way he was. The problem was when Chris’ parents pushed everything to him in the way they wanted. They did not see Chris’ behaviour as an act of saying, “Give me a space for myself and I want my life, not to be dictated by you, parents!” This confusing vision of family relationship happened in the life by some extent, but, the both sides just needed a time to understand the need of each other. Then, the problem would not be that far to be real.
In line with Chris’ personal growing, the movie was also shown and presented as the way Chris developed his soul and mind. It was just as the same as what Sigmund Freud explained about human psychological development. The different thing was in the last stage. There are five chapters of Chris’ life that were told. They were: chapter 1 for ‘my own birth’, chapter 2 for ‘adolescence’, chapter 3 for ‘adult’, chapter 4 for ‘family’ and the last chapter, or the 5 for ‘wisdom’. Each of the chapters show different personal advancement and significant change over the environment. Somehow, one thing that was never changed was his willingness to go alone to the Alaska. This desire was normal for some youngsters but the idea of running away from life was such a bad one that should be avoided.
The Message of Life that Chris has faced after facing the Five stages of life
Each of the five stages that he had faced contained a unique life message that the viewers might need to know. The message was explicitly expressed in the dialogue of the characters in the stages. Firstly, let us see on the first chapter, that was the My Own Birth. In this stage, Chris wanted to start his own voyage because he wanted to get out of the absurdity that he felt when he was living with his family. The education, the parents, the family and all things that he had were called as ‘dumb’ and ’empty or illusion’. In his mind, as he followed the book he read, he suddenly chose to get off from the life that he had with his family. He felt to be living with lies but in fact, his parents loved him so much that he would give anything that they wanted to him. Unfortunately, due to the conflict between the father and mother, he had to choose to live with his own idea about his life. He went away from home and never to turn back home, despite he felt that his parents needed him so much. The message in this stage was that as a son or as a daughter, no matter what kind of life that we are living with our parents, no matter who they were in the past, it is our turn now to love them to make them the most forgiven ones till God loves and include them to His paradise.
In the second chapter, that was Adolescence, Chris had found a way in a train and taste the nature of the Lake Mead in the Arizona. Despite he liked that much, he still ran away from the police until he was kept and punched hard by a security guard of a train. In this stage, the message would be ‘don’t push yourself into something that you wouldn’t get anything’. Sometimes, the soul of freedom and the need of to be known were in general existing in the mind of youth but the way Chris did was wrong, and therefore, it should not be imitated.
Meanwhile, the third chapter, that was Adult, happening in June 1990, was the time when Chris met Rainey and Jane. They talked much and Chris, with the unique way he had, had finally made Jane believed that she still deserved to get a love from Rainey, even though that she had been left alone by her earlier husband. The way Chris replied to Jane’s question and statement was by saying, “…tell me the truth…”, revised from Thoreau’s idea on truth. After a while, Jane and Rainey soon were in a physical contact and suddenly they found that Chris left them by writing, “Thank you Rainey and Jane”. In this stage, the message would be the feeling of love sometime should not be dealing with having sex. Chris’ idea would be seeing that thing as the most wonderful thing that he had seen in his life. It was uniting the two people into the same heart beat. Indeed, love is a wonderful thing but it does not mean a thing if it is distracted by physical contact.
When Chris reached the chapter four, that was family, he found that the need of having a small family was a good one but then, he still needed to go to his dream, going to Alaska. He met a girl who attracted him whose name was Joni Mitchell. Unfortunately, Chris rejected the way Joni wanted to be in an intimate relationship. He said that he does not want to make any change into his own dream to go to Alaska. In this stage, the message would be ‘love does not see the people and it has nothing to do with having sex. Sex and love are two different things’.
Finally, when Chris was in the last chapter of his life, that was Wisdom, he found out that life itself had a weird power that might never compromise to human for what it takes or will be taken. Everything has been arranged but he just did not realize that human itself is a part of nature and nature is created by the God, and then human is created by the God, and Chris was not in a good way to make a better relationship with the God. He only had the idea,
“The power, the money are only illusion, the real one is in here, you are a great man”. This idea was so controversial with what a common young man has. The message was that human need power and money to do something good and if do good, then we can end our life in a good condition.
There are two important things that should be noticed. They are:
- “Happiness only real when shared”, Chris wrote this when he found that he had eaten the wrong plants
- “When you forgive, you love. When you love, the God’s light shines on you”, as the old Ron said.
These two things have informed us that to live fully as a human, we can never live alone. We cannot be as happy as it should be when it is not shared. We live in this world together, not lonely. Everyone is in a beautiful mode connected one another, so, the line should always be connected. The connection should be for the positive purpose of the life and with the reason of the existence of human themselves. Every race, every religion, every nation until everybody need and support everybody. If this thing can happen, the paradise in this earth can be realized.
Important for my students!
- Reading a book means reading it with care for all words, meaning and for all of its’ contextual terminology. If you find something that you don’t understand, ask someone near you, especially your teacher or lecturer, or find more articles and books about that and then compare what you have found with the question in your mind.
- Reading a literary work should be connected to the logic of the mind and the heart that you have. Some literary works have only fantasy, so, you need to make your mind keep rational and logic so that you can be in the good track of life. A literary work cannot be used a guidance in life but only as a medium to enrich your way of thinking and personal satisfaction in understanding the nature, and especially yourself as a part of the nature itself.