This past week I rented the movie Into the Wild. Even though I did not have a clue what the movie was about, I meant to see it in the theater and never got around to it. My sons had read the book and like it. The best words I can use to describe it are haunting and intriguing. In fact, I can’t stop thinking about it.
Based on a true story, "Alex" (Christopher McCandless,23, smart, and right out of college) is on a trip to find himself and live life by his own rules. All along his journey, everyone he meets seems to become attached to him because of his charismatic personality, sense of curiosity, and genuine kindness.
There is one particular scene that is moving and earned Hal Holbrook an Oscar nomination for supporting actor in his role as Mr. Franz, an older man who could be Alex’s grandfather. Alex and Mr. Franz befriend each other, yet challenge one another. Alex gets Mr. Fraz to follow him by climbing a steep hill.
To Alex, Mr. Franz is older, set in his ways, and stuck in his own routines. Alex tells Mr. Franz that he needs to get back into the world and to make radical changes in his life because the core of the spirit comes from new experiences. Alex says, "You’re wrong if you think joy comes from human relationships."
Meanwhile, Mr. Franz who has become quite attached to Alex and even says that he would adopt him, says to Alex, "There is something bigger out there than ourselves. You seem to be fine if we call him God. When you forgive, you love. When you love, God’s light shines on you." Right then the light shines through the clouds and they start laughing–deep belly laughs.
It is sad when they part, but Alex continues on his journey. I won’t disclose the end of the movie, but to say that at the end, Alex discovers the following: "Happiness is only real when shared."
My conclusion is that Mr. Franz is a sage. He became a teacher and mentor to Alex and Alex thrived in the give and take of the relationship. They saw value in each other and enriched each other’s lives. In the end, Alex realized the wisdom that had been shared with him and was a better person because of it.
I can’t stop thinking about the lessons embedded into this movie based on a true story.