11 February 2008

There's a big, a big hard sun, beating on the big people, in the big hard world….

If ever there were a perfect symbiotic relationship between a film and a soundtrack it would be, hands down, Into The Wild. The story of an overly intelligent, idealistic and adventurous soul, the film, based on Jon Krakauer’s book of the same title retells the true story of a recent college graduate, Chris “Alex” McCandless, who leaves his cushy, privileged life behind to travel the country with the intent of conquering the Alaskan Wilderness. As we follow “Alex” (the name he takes to free himself of his WASPY upbringing and to avoid being located by his family) we are led on a journey of self discovery both within Alex and those he touches along the way of his two year sojourn. No one he comes in contact with is left unmoved; no one escapes his hypnotizing view on the material world.

So it is when the film begins and the voice of Eddie Vedder starts to ring out. While “Hard Sun” is written by Gordon Peterson, the rest of the songs, including “Rise” and “Far Behind”, other prominent songs we hear throughout, are penned by Vedder himself. As we follow Alex we hear Vedder somehow saying all that Alex is unable to say. The music becomes another character, or really, another facet of Alex.


When I walk beside her
I am the better man
when i look to leave her
I always stagger back again

Once I built an ivory tower
so I could worship from above
when I climb down to be set free
she took me in again

There’s a big
a big hard sun
beating on the big people
in the big hard world

When she comes to greet me
she is mercy at my feet
I see her inner charm
she just throws it back at me

Once I dug an early grave
to find a better land
she just smiled and laughed at me
and took her rules back again


Once I stood to lose her
and I saw what i had done
bowed down and threw away the hours
of her garden and her sun

So I tried to want her
I turned to see her weep
40 days and 40 nights
and its still coming down on me

[Hard Sun lyrics on http://www.metrolyrics.com]

There is a subtle pain one witnesses when watching/listening to this film. A young man struggling to find his voice thrusts himself into any adventure that comes his way and embraces the world at his feet. Initially penniless (he gave the remainder of his $24,000 college fund to Oxfam) he grabs any job he can to get him to his next destination – sometimes unknown, sometimes haphazardly, but ultimately as the miles and months move along he knows Alaska is where he will find his final truth. That is where he believes the rest of the answers lie – in the solitude and the quiet of The Great Wilderness; only then can the answers within him be fully realized.

It is hard to imagine this film without the sometimes thundering music and insight that Eddie Vedder provides. Having read the book in 1996 when it came out I wonder if he did the same in order to really understand Alex’s heart, soul and desires for the world. Somehow Vedder really ‘gets’ him – really taps ‘into the wild’ that was in Alex. Perhaps we can all understand his need to question, be free and to take those brave steps to leave it all behind, but few of us actually go. His misanthropic leanings, as well as his inexperience (and some might say, stupidity) are ultimately his downfall. Simultaneously the one thing he was escaping most in the end turns out to be what he craves the most. There is a cruel and heartbreaking irony to this fact – something that we hear and feel as we take this journey with Alex, Eddie and Sean Penn the writer/director of the film.


Take Leave
the conscious mind
Found myself
to be so inclined

Why sleep
in discontent?
Oh the price
of companionship

My shadow runs with me
underneath the Big Wide Sun
My shadow comes with me
as we leave it all
we leave it all Far Behind

Empty pockets will
Allow a greater
Sense of wealth
Why contain yourself
Like any other
Book on the shelf

My shadow lays with me
underneath the Big Wide Sun
My shadow stays with me
as we leave it all
we leave it all Far Behind

Subtle voices in the wind,
Hear the truth they're telling
A world begins where the road ends
Watch me leave it all behind

Far Behind

Far Behind

[Far Behind lyrics on http://www.metrolyrics.com]


Will I walk the long road?
I cannot say
There's no need to say goodbye
Oh, the pressure's building
All the memories going round
Round, round, round...
I have wished for so long...
Now I wish for you again
And the wind keeps blowin'
And the sky keeps turning grey
And the sun is set
The sun won't never rise again
I have wished for so long ...
Now I wish for you again
I have wished for so long...
Now I wish for you today
Will I walk the long road? (3x)

[The Long Road lyrics on http://www.metrolyrics.com]

I can’t say enough how amazing, powerful and haunting this film was. Thankfully it had been so many years since reading the book that much of it felt new whilst I was taken on the long rivers journey that is this piece of work – both musically and visually. Not only did Eddie Vedder capture Alex – it would not have been so without Jon Krakauer and Sean Penn and their deep love and compassion for the man that was Chris, the man that was Alex, and all the conflict and understanding that made him who he was and made his story so compelling. Stupid or not – he was braver than most of us could ever hope to be.

Do yourself a favour - don’t wait for the DVD – see this on a HUGE screen – you will be glad did.

Thanks for tuning in…Until next week….CHEERS!!

HARD SUN video:

1 comment:

Crepuscule Colour said...

I was searching for some lyrics when I came across this. Now I'm going to watch the movie ASAP. :)