It’s been raining nonstop (there was a 5 day hiatus early in March and a three one the first week of the year, and a few hours here and there but not many) since November in the Basque Country, and I’m just itching to get back out there in the beautiful nature that surrounds me. They say it wouldn’t be as beautiful without the rain, but enough is enough. Even Noah’s flood stopped after 40 days and 40 nights! So as I’m “haciendo tiempo” (killing time is “making time” in Spanish) until the sun returns (most likely during my trip to Italia next month), I’ve been watching a lot of films. As I have no new place to write about and definitely haven’t been out on the Camino as I have no waterproof stuff, I thought I’d take the opportunity to write about three movies about man and woman against the natural world.
Into the Wild (2007, Sean Penn) I read the even better book last year and tried watching the film then, but the book was still too fresh in my mind. For those not familiar with the true story of Alex Supertramp (born Christopher McCandless), it doesn’t have a happy ending (spoiler alert). Alex literally burned his money to live a life of a tramp, out in the wilderness, taking odd jobs here and there to get to the next place calling his name. He wasn’t happy with the status quo and believed that life was better living off of nature. Many people called him selfish and immature, while others call him a hero. He did abandon his family without much thought, but those familiar with the movie alone may not know the back story of an unhappy childhood.
Alex’s goal was Alaska to live off the land. Preparing himself financially and learning how to live off the land as well as he could in a short time’s notice, he found his way to Alaska and found an old abandoned bus. The river grew with the melting snow, and he found himself isolated and trapped, not knowing the ways or directions. His cause of death is a mystery, though the film showing him eating the wrong berries is most likely not the case. The book suggests eating the seeds of something, but studies suggest it was eating mold on one of the plants.
While the outcome of the story is not the one I’d want, his tale did inspire me when I read it and once again when I watched the film this weekend. I wish I had the cojones (see, we do use that expression in English, españoles) to just go out into a cabin in the woods somewhere (not an abandoned bus as I am not brave/brazen as Alex Supertramp) and live off the land, isolated. Is Supertramp right? Is a simpler life a happier one? I know I do enjoy turning off the 4G when I’m out hiking. However, I also agree that no man is an island, as much as some of us try.
It’s a great read, and the film was also a great watch. I just wish it had ended happier for his family and the people he encountered along the way. By the way, those of you who follow me on Twitter (@ setmeravelles), I’m Pablo Supertramp there to honour Alex Supertramp.
Wild (2014, Jean-Marc Vallée) I nearly missed this film because I’m not a fan of Reese Witherspoon, who was grossly miscast as Cheryl Strayed. Based on Strayed’s memoir Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail about herexperiences on the Pacific Crest Trail, the film shows us her struggles to overcome herself as she overcomes the trail’s obstacles which include winter, being a woman hiking alone through some sketchy parts of the West Coast, wilderness. I do believe Witherspoon was miscast. However, that didn’t deter from my enjoyment of the film. It has a more positive ending than Into the Wild and is based on a true story from 1995. I look forward reading the book. Part of doing the Camino de Santiago is overcoming my own self (anxiety, depression) and finding my true self, so I relate to that part of it. I just read that my fave writer Nick Hornby wrote the script, which makes my love for this film make even more sense.
The Way (2010, Emilio Estévez) Of the three films, The Way might be the lesser known, but it’s my personal fave. Based in part on star Martin Sheen’s driven Camino with grandson Taylor and in part on Jack Hitt’s Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim’s Route into Spain, this film is one of my fave films ever. It’s about a doctor whose estranged son dies on his first day doing the Camino. The doctor finds himself doing the Camino after going to France to pick up the ashes of his late son. With every passing step on the way to Santiago, he grieves his son and finds out he has strength he didn’t know he had. Yeah, cliché, but the film rises above it thanks to awesome supporting characters (the good kind of quirky) and the beauty of Spain seen from the French Camino. It’s inspiring to a quasi pilgrim (please let me have the funds to finish the Camino this summer!) , and it shows how the Camino brings people from all walks of life together.
What are some of your favourite films while dealing with the rainy day blues? What about favourite films about man versus nature (or himself?)