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8.12 h 28 min2007X-Ray15
After graduating from Emory University in 1992, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandons his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness.
Sean Penn
Hal HolbrookWilliam HurtCatherine Keener
English [CC]
Audio Languages
EnglishEnglish [Audio Description]
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Supporting actors
Jena MaloneMarcia Gay HardenVince VaughnEmile HirschZach GalifianakisKristen StewartThure LindhardtBrian DierkerKyle Kwon
William PohladDavid BlockerJohn J. KellySean PennArt LinsonBill Pohlad
Content advisory
Alcohol usefoul languagenuditysexual contentsubstance useviolence
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Prime Video (streaming online video)
Available to watch on supported devices


4.6 out of 5 stars

4361 global ratings

  1. 79% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 12% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 5% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 2% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 3% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United Kingdom on 25 August 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
A wonderful film of a beautiful life.
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Incomprehensible that anyone would dislike this film. A stunning portrayal of a young man's rejection of capitalism and the death that is daily life for so many. He lived free like a beacon to all he met and though his life was short there is a lesson here.

In days gone by young people would know how to live off the land. The plants to eat. Where the rivers flowed. Where the animals roamed. This young man was desperately trying to return to a nature that we have lost. He knew what was true and where beauty lies. It seems he lived more in his short years than most will live in a lifetime. Maybe that is their the cause of their rejection.

There is a lesson here. About our true nature and our real innate desire. We need a transition of society that allows us all more space and more respect for and contact with nature that will eschew the need to run into isolation. Yet still we destroy and disrespect and this despite the lessons we can learn in modern science.
36 people found this helpful
M. D.Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 01 June 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Touching story on many occasions. Something like an American Motorcycle Diaries
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Based on a true story which gives it its power - undermined somewhat by its writer/director being the celebrity ideologue and activist Sean Penn, whose megaphoned ideals the main character reflects a little too transparently. Nevertheless, poignant details come through, assisted by good acting, cinematography, and music.

The themes and atmosphere of the film align with the Motorcycle Diaries somewhat. Ultimately it strikes me, not as the philosophically profound story the director intended, but as a cautionary tale against much of the brainwashing young people receive today, with all the 'good' main characters raised and educated (as I was) to believe that somehow modern civilisation has been nothing but a blight on the universe, and is best done away with. This stark philosophy is contradicted throughout as the character takes most of the vast conveniences, technologies and wealth of modern civilisation for granted on his quest to shun it, and learns what could have been learned in a much less damaging way - that life is precious, that a big part of life is about testing yourself, finding the values that matter to you, and sharing your experiences and life with others. What is most redeeming about the story is the kindness and generosity strangers showed to the main character. Sadly he himself didn't have the chance to do anything of substance in return, besides haunt them with loss, so his life was ultimately wasted save for the recollections and testament of his family and few acquaintances. My heart goes out to them.
7 people found this helpful
MACReviewed in the United Kingdom on 11 March 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Beautiful But Ultimately Troubling Film
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First of all I have a lot of time for Sean Penn the director - I hope that he continues to grow his talent and portfolio of projects.

As for the film, I knew about Chris McCandless when Jon Krakauer's book came out and I always wished to read it but never got around to it (Krakauer is a great writer in my view, as I've read his other books). I did not know a film had been made too.

This film is long, but no worse for that. It is always interesting and beautiful to look at since it is trying to pan along after its subject's life. McCandless packed a lot in.

My word - America has so much natural beauty to take in! Some of the cities look run down (and similar to those in the UK) but the variety and beauty and SCALE of even the farmed prairies is just wonderful to behold and the film lets you see it all, dwelling on it as if to get into McCandless's mind, as if we are seeing it through his eyes. America - yes - you're beautiful to look at.

There is lots to admire about Chris McCandless in our possession and money obsessed world. But throughout all this seemingly brave behaviour there was something niggling at my fascination with the story.

This niggle found its homes in Hal Holbrooke's character towards the end (Holbrooke is one of the those classic American character actors who seem to go on forever - I hope).

It's when Holbrooke's old man mentions the concept of 'forgiveness' as they sit on top of a hill that Chris has got the old chap to climb up.

It's interesting to note that the old man responds to Chris' admonishment for not travelling more by climbing up to meet him and answer his challenge only to fall silent when Holbrooke's character gets real, real close to what is eating at the young man. So, the older man can rise to the occasion and walk up a hill and nearly come to mischief but the young man is just incapable of a response. It's not an equal exchange at all.

So who is the old man out of the two of them? Who is the one who cannot change? Who is the one who is set in his ways? The answer is that it is the young man - McCandless, that's who.

Whether McCandless has been artificially aged by his less than pristine childhood or by his own will, it is to me a key revelation in the film and Penn is right to put it there. It puts a darker element into McCandless's motivations.

This therefore may not just be some youngster foregoing life's privileges to find some form of real life or authenticity.

What we may have instead or 'as well' is a desire to hurt and punish his parents in reprisal for whatever was done to him by them.

This adds a new twist to McCandless' behaviour. The bloody mindedness, the hyper positivity, the apparent courage all seem to take on a darker aspect of a death wish to me. Nihilism. Selfishness - a mad desire to 'self realise' at the expense of others.

The ultimate form of rejection - suicide - is what reveals itself to me. It occurs to me that he could not heed Holbrooke's old man's entreaty about forgiveness.

Either that or a certain arrogance that could only ever come from the very thing he was trying to escape from and ultimately failed to - his rather affluent and promising background where to him everything was possible - that even not knowing what berries and seeds not to eat or that game tends to hibernate in winter (so its harder to find something to eat) would not stop him at all.

I mention these because it is clear to me that McCandless has become something of a cult figure.

We who live need to be careful about who we choose to follow and admire.

McCandless could have been just a typical middle class kid, rebelling against what he would ultimately become ( i.e. like his parents); or he was hell bent on hurting them back and just went too far? Or is it both? And what can we learn from that if we consider it?

Penn's film very subtly raises this point for me and that it why I will give it 5 stars.

Highly recommended.
4 people found this helpful
T. J. SticklandReviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 December 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
It's OK
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This is a very long film and it started to wear thin for me. It meanders its way along showing us various things about his life and travels. There's lots of emotional music and pictures of landscapes. The main issue for me is that it's not as profound as the film makers want us to believe. He was fed up and unhappy so he ran away. Ultimately going to the wilds of Alaska without telling anyone where was a dangerous strategy that went wrong. It's sad that two weeks after his death moose hunters found his body. Make it half the length and I'd give it a higher rating.
4 people found this helpful
EuphroseneReviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 March 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
Very long-winded 'tribute' to a lost soul
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Way too long.

Great scenery but the person came across as selfish and self-centred with not a thought for his family, not even an apparently much-loved sibling.

Finding out he and his sister were born out of wedlock is supposed to have sent him on this inevitable suicidal journey. Yet, at the time of his birth and subsequent death, this was not the big issue it had been in earlier decades. The sister, narrating, slags off her parents while not considering they might have kept it quiet to protect them.

When people die before their time, it seems to be the norm to sanctify them, to make them out to be nicer, kinder, more soulful or whatever than they really were. That came across quite strongly in this. I found myself questioning what was his imagination and how much was the sister inventing to take away her pain. Fair enough, in either case but at nearly two and half hours?

Not one I can recommend let alone watch again. But some great scenery.
2 people found this helpful
JReviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 January 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Finding life’s purpose in the wilderness
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An inspiring film based on real events of a young man who wanted to free himself from social norms and family lies and live a true life by walking into the wild of Alaska. This inspiring film directed by Sean Penn and brilliantly cast tells of a journey into the unknown to find yourself and your place in a world. The scenery is stunning and the beautiful backdrop belies the brutality and harsh reality of living off the land. This is a film which stays with you well after you have watched it and one you will want to see again. Christopher McCandless’s life will haunt you well after the credits have rolled and make you think more deeply about the purpose of life and how we choose to live it. With a great soundtrack this is an epic journey into the wilderness that will stay with you for a long time after. Watch the film, read the book, vist the website and see how this young man has inspired so many others to follow the path less travelled.
4 people found this helpful
electro-reviewReviewed in the United Kingdom on 10 September 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
A worthwhile watch for those that yearn to travel
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If you are like me and you have a deep emotional connection with nature, geography, and travel then this is a great Sunday evening or spare time film. The story is a sad one which portrays just how fragile life can be when based on the choices we all make. Whether you agree or disagree with the reasons that this young life decided to embark on his travel its hard not to see the deep desire he had to 'go where no-one had gone before'.

Although this is a strange concept, as his 'place' was only 40 odd miles from civilization and the trail was man made his short adventure on the Stampede Trail was born of a concept deep within his mind which the film does well to interpret.
It was a most enjoyable film and one that will be worth watching again when I have 'The Urge' to visit this wonderful place.
4 people found this helpful
GollumReviewed in the United Kingdom on 21 March 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Nice film...
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It was a little surprising to discover after watching the film that it was based on a true story. I'm sure that there are lots of people out there who have thought at one point or another in their lives about jacking it all in and heading off (potentially into some wilderness or along some less trodden path) to live a life less encumbered. I dont know how much of the original story the writers, directors and producers have altered / embellished to make it more dramatic and to romanticize it, but i think the film captures, in a relatively upbeat way for the majority, a sense of the freedom that many people out there have dreamt of at some point in their lives. Its a nice film...
One person found this helpful
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