Sean Penn Heads ‘Into the Wild’

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The last time Sean Penn directed a film it was 2001’s The Pledge, which starred Jack Nicholson as a retiring police chief who pledges to catch the killer of a young child. This time around he is focusing on Into the Wild, the nonfiction story of Christopher McCandless and his mysterious Alaskan odyssey.

The film is being set up over at Paramount Classics and Emile Hirsch is already aboard to play McCandless, a man who graduated from college in 1992, abandoned his possessions and hitchhiked to Alaska to live in the wilderness and return to nature. He died four months later in an abandoned bus at a remote campsite.

Sean Penn adapted the screenplay from the best-selling Jon Krakauer’s book of the same name. Publishers Weekly gives the book the following description:

After graduating from Emory University in Atlanta in 1992, top student and athlete Christopher McCandless abandoned his possessions, gave his entire $24,000 savings account to charity and hitchhiked to Alaska, where he went to live in the wilderness. Four months later, he turned up dead. His diary, letters and two notes found at a remote campsite tell of his desperate effort to survive, apparently stranded by an injury and slowly starving. They also reflect the posturing of a confused young man, raised in affluent Annandale, Va., who self-consciously adopted a Tolstoyan renunciation of wealth and return to nature. Krakauer, a contributing editor to Outside and Men’s Journal, retraces McCandless’s ill-fated antagonism toward his father, Walt, an eminent aerospace engineer. Krakauer also draws parallels to his own reckless youthful exploit in 1977 when he climbed Devils Thumb, a mountain on the Alaska-British Columbia border, partly as a symbolic act of rebellion against his autocratic father. In a moving narrative, Krakauer probes the mystery of McCandless’s death, which he attributes to logistical blunders and to accidental poisoning from eating toxic seed pods.

There was no word on a production start date, but this one has a Cannes or Sundance premiere written all over it so I would expect a debut sometime during the 2007 Festival circuit.

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Weekend: Nov. 15, 2018, Nov. 18, 2018

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