What Is "Into the Wild" About?


Quick Answer

"Into the Wild" is about a young man named Christopher McCandless, played by Emile Hirsch, who abandons his material possessions and becomes a hitchhiker. McCandless travels across the United States, meeting and influencing a number of people along the way.

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Full Answer

In May 1990, after graduating from Emory University, McCandless destroys his credit cards and begins a cross-country drive to experience life in the wilderness. However, he does not inform his father, mother and sister, played by William Hurt, Marcia Gay Harden and Jena Malone, respectively, of his plans. McCandless's family becomes increasingly worried as time passes, as they are unable to contact him and have no idea as to his whereabouts.

On his journey, McCandless encounters a wide variety of individuals, such as Wayne Westerberg, played by Vince Vaughn, and Rainey and Jan Burres, played by Brian H. Dierker and Catherine Keener, respectively. He also meets Tracy Tatro, a 16-year old girl played by Kristen Stewart, who is attracted to McCandless, and Ron Franz, played by Hal Holbrook, who treats him like a grandson. McCandless then ventures to Alaska, intending to live in an abandoned bus. However, his lack of experience in the wilderness proves fatal, and McCandless dies of poisoning from dangerous berries. The film ends with McCandless's sister bringing his ashes home to their family in Virginia.

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