INTO THE WILD
SUBJECTS — Literature: Nonfiction; Literary Devices:
theme; allusion; U.S.: 1945 - 1991;
SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Taking Care of Yourself; Families in
MORAL-ETHICAL EMPHASIS — Responsibility.
Age: 14+; MPAA Rating -- R for language and some nudity; 148 Minutes, Drama, Adventure, Color; Released in 2007.
Into the Wild tells the true story of Chris McCandless, a young man from a troubled family who was enraged by the moral lapses of his mother and father and their multiple failures as parents. Chris also had a love of nature and adventuring in the wild. Upon graduating near the top of his class from college, Chris cut himself off from family and friends to go solo adventuring in the Western United States. His last trip was to the Alaskan wilderness where he was found dead of starvation in an abandoned bus. The movie tells the story of the events at home, Chris' love of nature, his wanderings in the West, the people that he met, and, in the final weeks, his epiphany of forgiveness and realization of the importance of human relationships.
Embedded in beautiful scenery and rich in the kind of music that has special appeal to young people, Into The Wild provides important life-lessons that: (1) risky behavior can have fatal consequences; (2) parents need to be careful in raising their children; (3) there are times when children need to forgive their parents; (4) happiness and beauty must be shared to be fully enjoyed; and (5) relationships with people are an essential part of life.
With respect to the ELA curriculum, the TWM Learning Guide for Into the Wild provides context for the study of Jack London and particularly for his short story "To Build a Fire." It provides opportunities for students to explore the ideas in the movie and its use of literary allusion. The Guide contains multiple assignments of formal and informal writing and an introduction to the history of American adventurism. In addition to Jack London, the Guide offers the opportunity to briefly introduce students to Lord Byron, Leo Tolstoy and Henry David Thoreau.
The book, Into the Wild, by John Krakauer, is an excellent nonfiction text for students in grades 10 - 12. The Guide provides discussion questions and writing assignments for the study of the book. See Teaching Students to Read Nonfiction: How Movies Can Help.
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Into the Wild is beautifully filmed and edited. The acting is excellent. Contrasting the movie with Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire" is an excellent way to introduce Jack London's writing and American adventurism.
Learning Guide Excerpt
To give you a sense of how our Learning Guides can be used by teachers to develop lesson plans, and by parents to supplement school curriculum or for homeschooling we have set out below some discussion questions from the Guide to Into the Wild. The Guide provides suggested answers to these and many other questions.
Some contend that McCandless was arrogant or stupid in going into the Alaskan wilderness only to die in an abandoned bus. What is your opinion of how his story played out?
Suggested Response: Answers will vary. Be sure that students back up their points with direct reference to the film or with logical reasoning. Several critical analyses of McCandless' failure to prepare and educate himself before he went into the Alaskan wilderness are referenced in the Links to the Internet section of this Guide.
The Learning Guide to the film Into the Wild contains sections on Benefits of the Movie, Possible Problems, Helpful Background, Discussion Questions, Links to the Internet, and Bridges to Reading. The Discussion Questions are divided into three categories: Subject Matter, Social-Emotional Learning, and Moral-Ethical Emphasis.
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