5 February 2015

Wild

Walking isn't just about exercise and nice views of the countryside. It can have a psychological, perhaps spiritual function too. Plodding along, your mind drifts hither and thither as if in harmony with your footsteps. Notions and memories may be released  - thoughts that might otherwise be buried in everyday living.

The film "Wild"recognises these other aspects of walking. Based on a true story, Cheryl Strayed is played by Reese Witherspoon. She sets out alone to tackle a huge section of the Pacific Crest Trail, beginning in the Mojave Desert before heading north through the Sierra Nevada Mountain and then through Oregon to The Bridge of the Gods which spans the mighty Columbia River east of Portland. It is a journey of over a thousand miles.

Strayed (Witherspoon) has issues to deal with and believes that the walk, for which she is mightily ill-prepared, might help her to regain her self-belief. Drive out some demons. Throughout the walk there are flashbacks to her previous life - memories of her late mother and her abusive father, memories of love and of self-destructive habits including sexual adventures and drugs. Along the way there are also hallucinations and moments of danger - a rattle snake, a fox, a furry caterpillar, two hunters.

But she gets through it and as she stands on the bridge after more than three months of walking this is her conclusion:-

“It had only to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles for no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way.”
Film reviewer Mark Kermode had awarded "Wild" four stars in "The Guardian" and that persuaded me to go along to see it. Reese Witherspoon is of course an accomplished film actress but we are used to seeing her in much lighter roles. I think she handled the challenge of playing Cheryl Strayed pretty well. The camera rarely left her, adding to the intensity of the mental torment that swirled beneath wonderful images of the natural world that embellish the Pacific Crest Trail.

10 comments:

  1. That is one film definitely on my list of Want-to-Sees. Reese Witherspoon is often much underestimated as an actress, but I really, really like her. In fact, I think she is one of my - if not THE - favourite contemporary actresses. And of course the topic itself is close enough to my heart for wanting to see this, plus it is based on a real story.

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    1. Yes. I think you will like it Meike.

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  2. I used to love hiking. I think I would like to watch this. However most of my long solo hiking was done when I was 16 and suffered from post operative depression. Even now, although I have never suffered from depression since then, walking on my own takes me back to that time. I wonder to myself how I will feel walking like that vicariously.

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    1. It will be food for thought if you get a chance to see it Graham.

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  3. I am so envious of anyone who can (or ever could) walk that far. I did 10 miles of the PCT about 30 years ago, with my brother, sister-in-law, and two teeny bopper girls who wore sandals and danced rings around us all the way, like little wood sprites and kept asking "when are we going to get there?"

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    1. Ten miles isn't so bad. When Reese Witherspoon sets out, her pack is so heavy she can hardly lift it and there are no dancing wood sprites to help her.

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  4. That's a loooong way to walk !

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    1. It's roughly the same distance as Brisbane is from Cairns. You could stroll up there for a cup of tea and a natter with Carol.

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  5. I've only heard, read and seen good reviews about this movie/story and Reese Witherspoon's acting in the role.

    Witherspoon is a good actress and we tend to forget that she won an Oscar for her role in "Walk the Line"...plus she did all her own singing in the movie. She's not lightweight...and, apparently she's a very astute business woman.

    The author, Cheryl Strayed gave the book, the story of that part of her life, to Witherspoon knowing she, Reese had the power to get the movie made

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    1. Yeah. Ms Witherspoon was indeed excellent in "Walk the Line". Maybe she's like a good wine - getting better with age.

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