So, a couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about a new movie called Wild. It’s based on a memoir by Cheryl Strayed – a woman who walked 1,100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail alone, through California and Oregon. You might have heard of her. Or maybe you’ve heard of the movie because it’s sweeping its way through cinemas around the world. Reese Witherspoon is up for an Oscar nomination for her performance. It’s all a “hot topic” right now.
I read the book 2 years ago – before I even knew that I would walk 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago route in northern Spain. I loved Strayed’s writing style, her story, and of course, that she wrote about California and Oregon – 2 states I have hiked in, camped in, and love.
I relished the memoir from cover to cover and I’ve held on to my copy of it. I don’t do that often but I want to re-read it at some stage. Let that tell you that I really loved this piece of work.
But I’ve been debating on whether to go see the movie version.
You know how it is: we’ve all had our favourite books and short stories butchered on the big screen, with disastrous results. I was nervous that the same would happen with this. And even though Nick Hornby worked on the script (and I love Nick Hornby’s work), I had my doubts. I wrote about them here: Wild: The Book or the Movie?
A few days ago, I felt inclined to give it a go and I bought my ticket to go see the movie.
I admit, movies about mountains and hiking hold a natural appeal for me, so going to see Wild is not an enormous stretch. And I admit, I already knew the story and the Pacific Northwest before I ever bought my ticket that evening. I even know how my own experience of long-distance walking changed me on a fundamental level, just like it changed her.
So, I was already sold on the concept and I didn’t need further convincing.
But I wanted to know how Hollywood handled the story, how it all played out on screen, and whether they’d honoured the book I very much love.
In short, I think they honoured it beautifully.
I really, really liked the film.
And I plan to go see it again.
I almost never do that but in this case, I will.
I’m not going to give away any spoilers or detail in case you haven’t seen it yet but I will say this:
When I arrived, there were only 6 seats left and they filled up behind me. I think it’s relevant that the showing sold out.
There’s no way of knowing whether the audience that evening were as familiar with the book, the trail, and long distance walking as I am. I’m going to presume that they weren’t. So, they probably weren’t as “sold” on the concept as I was when they entered the dark room and took their seats.
But they “eeeewwwed” emphatically during the opening scene….
At other points they laughed out loud….
They “ooohed” and “aaahed” in all the right places…
And at the end, they stopped their mad scramble for coats, bags, and the exit sign, and stood to watch the closing credits.
I think that counts for something, right?