Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

WILD directed by Jean-Marc Vallée

Wild Wild Fox Searchlight Pictures
13 Jan
2015
Trekking a thousand miles through the American wilderness may not be for everyone. But this film intimately reveals what happens when someone impulsively decides to do exactly that

If you have never felt motivated by one of Geographical’s Explorers stories and contemplated taking off for an adventure in the wild, then this reviewer would be very surprised. Wild, an adaptation from the book of the same name, tells the now-famous real-life experience of one woman who spontaneously swapped the stresses of her normal life for a three-month, 1,000-mile trek along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State.

This film is not an attempt to romanticise exploration. From Cheryl Strayed’s (Reese Witherspoon) first hesitant footsteps, staggering under the weight of her unnecessarily large rucksack, to the blood-soaked socks she pulls off her feet, we, the audience, are unforgivingly forced to face up to the reality of taking off on such an expedition without an adequate level of experience or planning.

Nevertheless, the notion of undertaking such a venture is still presented as highly worthwhile, especially when paralleled, as it is, with an overall sense of someone getting their life in order, as might well be expected from a memoir with the subtitle A Journey from Lost to Found. And every opportunity is taken to show off the striking and ever-changing landscapes of California and the American west coast (therefore we can reasonably expect a surge in popularity for hiking the PCT as a direct consequence of this film). However, by virtue of having a protagonist who is battling her way through these landscapes, we do also see the challenging implications of those rocky cliff faces and snowy hillsides for someone travelling alone at ground level.

The consequences of being unprepared for an expedition of this magnitude, including packing the wrong equipment, or simply not practising with it beforehand, are shown vividly. There are also considerable gender issues investigated; the clear feeling being that ‘the outdoors’ is a male space, a concept to which Strayed’s presence is quite disruptive.

Different audiences will go and watch this film for very different reasons, whether as an Eat, Pray, Love-esque search for the self, or simply to enjoy the story of someone trekking an extremely picturesque part of the world. It’s fair to say there is something for everyone in this regard.

Subscribe to Geographical!

Geographical Week

Sign up for our weekly newsletter today and get a FREE eBook collection!

University of Winchester

EDUCATION PARTNERS

Aberystwyth University University of Greenwich The University of Derby

TRAVEL PARTNERS

Ponant

Silversea

Travel the Unknown

DOSSIERS

Like longer reads? Try our in-depth dossiers that provide a comprehensive view of each topic

  • The Human Game – Tackling football’s ‘slave trade’
    Few would argue with football’s position as the world’s number one sport. But as Mark Rowe discovers, this global popularity is masking a sinister...
    Essential oil?
    Palm oil is omnipresent in global consumption. But in many circles it is considered the scourge of the natural world, for the deforestation and habita...
    The Nuclear Power Struggle
    The UK appears to be embracing nuclear, a huge U-turn on government policy from just two years ago. Yet this seems to be going against the grain globa...
    National Clean Air Day
    For National Clean Air Day, Geographical brings together stories about air pollution and the kind of solutions needed to tackle it ...
    The Air That We Breathe
    Cities the world over are struggling to improve air quality as scandals surrounding diesel car emissions come to light and the huge health costs of po...

MORE DOSSIERS

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Exhibitions

Annual photography competition at the Natural History Museum celebrates the…

Exhibitions

We all have to live with buildings, but getting the…

Books

by Bruno Latour • Polity Books • £12.99 (hardback)

Books

edited by Fearghal O’Nuallain • Summersdale • £9.99 (paperback)

Books

by Francis Fukuyama • Profile Books • £16.99 (hardback) • £14.99 (eBook)

Books

by Pascal Bruckner • Polity Books • £16.99 (hardback)

Books

by Kevin Begos • Algonquin Books • £20.99 (hardback)

Books

by Karl Schlögel (translated by Gerrit Jackson) • Reaktion Books • £18 (hardback)

Films

Space race biopic tries to uncover the real Neil Armstrong,…

Exhibitions

Four new galleries at Royal Museums Greenwich explore Britain’s maritime…

Books

by John Foot • Bloomsbury • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Deborah Baker • Chatto & Windus • £25 (hardback)

Books

By Lucy Seigle • Trapexe • £12.99/£6.99 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Simon Lewis and Mark Maslin • Pelican • £8.99 (paperback)

Books

by Christoph Baumer • IB Tauris • £30 (hardback)

Books

by Charles Lane • River Books • £40 (hardback)

Books

by Graham Hoyland• William Collins • £20 (hardback)

Books

by Dr Lucy Jones• Doubleday Books • £19.99 (hardback)

Books

by Daniel Pinchbeck• Watkins • £9.99 (paperback)

Books

by Jasper Winn • Profile Books • £16.99 (hardback)