Another important message is about the lingering effects of conjugal strife on children.  It is very clear that the source of McCandless’ pain is his parents’ marital conflict, which he and his sister (Jena Malone, narrating the film) endured.  Despite the film’s splendor and its fascination with McCandless’ journey, he is a desperate young man.  He reaches his geographic goals, but he has no emotional, spiritual or moral compass.

Into the Wild is also a film about forgiveness.  In response to McCandless’ statement about joy coming from nature rather than relationships, an elderly man (Hal Holbrook, in a disarming performance), replies, “I know about your parents … and I know you’ve got your problems with the church.  But one thing I’ve learned is that when you forgive, you love.  And when you love, God’s light shines on you.”

Perhaps McCandless did find forgiveness, high above the world in his lonely little bus.  And perhaps, in the end, God’s light did shine upon him.  If nothing else, certainly he found wisdom about the deadly dangers of isolation.  But what a price to pay.


  • Drugs/Alcohol:  Characters appear to smoke marijuana in one or two scenes; wine and beer briefly appear in another two or three scenes.
  • Language/Profanity:  Obscenities and profanities, some strong, throughout film.
  • Sexual Content/Nudity:  Several scenes with brief, full-frontal nudity (male and female); two scenes in which lovemaking is implied; a teenage girl beckons a young man to bed wearing a T-shirt and underwear (he declines because she is underage).
  • Violence:  Character is harshly beaten by a railroad conductor for jumping on and off trains; character is threatened by the presence of a bear in the wild.