30 Day Film Challenge – Day 14

Posted: June 24, 2021 in Uncategorized

Just made it in today…

This one isn’t necessarily a challenge because there aren’t depressing movies to pick from. There’s tons of them. The problem is that I don’t really want to write a lot about them. Call me crazy, but I kind of like being entertained by movies, not saddened. I mean, I can appreciate a well-made depressing movie, like Schindler’s List or something, but I prefer something like JoJo Rabbit, a hilarious movie with some heavy themes (His mom… Oh, man.), but overall, it doesn’t make me want to jump off a bridge after seeing it.

I also HATE HATE HATE when movies really try to tug at your heartstrings. Something like Million Dollar Baby, which was basically Clint Eastwood and Hillary Swank making an incredibly boring, pointless movie just to try to win another Oscar. Other than “Women can box, too” why should I care about this story?

I was going to write about Requiem for a Dream, because when I think about depressing movies, that is the first one that pops into my head. But I saw it in theaters when it came out, and I was young and wanted to feel things, and I haven’t seen it since and have no desire to watch it or even think about it ever again. I’m annoyed that this challenge brought it back into my brain. Although, that refrigerator scene is pretty crazy.

I’m actually going with Into the Wild, which depressed me, but probably not for the same reasons it depressed a lot of other people. If you haven’t seen it, well, don’t bother, but here’s the skinny. Emile Hirsch plays Christopher McCandless, a really smart kid who does a really dumb thing: after graduating from college, he takes his $24,000 life savings and donates it to charity because he wants to hitchhike to Alaska and live off the land. I’m not sure if I’m remembering this correctly, but I think he also burned everything in his wallet.

The tagline says that, on the journey, he “encounters a series of characters that shape his life.” That’s a nice thought, but… SPOILER WARNING, don’t read on if you want to see the movie someday

Seriously, don’t read if you don’t want to know how it ends.

Screw it. It came out in 2007, and the book came out in 1997. Chris dies, possibly from eating some poison berries, possibly from eating potato seeds which can be poisonous. Or possibly from something else, but definitely from being an idiot. From analyzing his skeleton, they think he weighed about sixty pounds at the time of his death, so it could have been a lot of things. He did have some meat from an animal that he had killed, but he didn’t have any way to preserve it since he didn’t have a freezer because he gave $24,000 away and burned the rest of his money, so it went bad before he could finish it. So he definitely had an upset tummy. According to his journals, he had decided that this living off the land crap was no fun and wanted to make his way back to civilization after a couple months, but the summer melt-off had caused the river to rise so he couldn’t cross the way he came, so he was trapped. Of course, since he also didn’t have a decent map he didn’t know that there was a way across if he had gone a half-mile further. But he turned around to live in his van. Well, die in it, basically. 

So, yeah, depressing. And how can the people he met shape his life when he dies horribly mere months after reaching his goal? Was there some message about life after death that I missed?

This is where my reasons for it being depressing may differ from the norm. I’m not really depressed because the kid dies at the end. I actually recall thinking, “That dickhead deserved it!” I know that’s harsh, but I feel how I feel. I get that he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his heroes, Jack London and John Muir, but, Jesus, keep an emergency fund or something. As someone who never really had much money, the idea that this child literally burned what he had to go live in the woods is what depressed me. Also, working in a University for almost twenty years, I knew a lot of really smart young people who had ideas about the world that were a little different, and all I could think when I’d listen to them talk was, “You’ll figure it out.” Hopefully, none of them ended up like Christopher McCandless.

Maybe what really depresses me about this movie is that I wish I could look past the actual logic and say, “Wow, poor kid. He followed his dream, and it killed him, but at least he went for it.”  But I can’t. I just have a very low tolerance for pretension, and this kid was about as pretentious as you can get.  I kind of wish I could see it as a fun adventure that had an unfortunate consequence, but I can’t. It never should have gotten to that point (Well, ok, he shouldn’t have started the dumb journey in the first place), but if he had done a little more research, saved a little money in case of emergency, and, I don’t know, bought a map, he would maybe have survived long enough to make it back home and tell his parents that he was sorry for being an idiot.

I never read the book this movie is based on, but I have no doubt that it’s better, and probably makes the kid seem less annoying because they can delve deeper into his character. But watching this movie did depress me. It depressed me to know that there are dummies like this in the world. You want to live off the land, go for it. Are you tired of other people? I can totally respect that, so go live in the woods. But be smart about it. Do it the Captain Fantastic way.

Maybe that will be tomorrow’s movie…

Anyway, I’m tired. Go to my linktree. There’s a sale going on at Teepublic so everything is 35% off, if you want to check out the stuff in my storefront. Then come back tomorrow. Stay safe.

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