Pattern of a travel story
To understand how is a travel story we had to chose a film or a novel and to analyse the differents steps. We followed the patterns describes by Christopher Booker in The Seven Basic Okits ; Why We Tell Stories (2004).
I chose the film Into the Wild by Sean Penn adapted of a book by Jon Krakauer (based on a true story).
For me, it's easier to start with the second part of the trip and the life in Alaska.
1. Anticipation stage and "fall" into the other world : During the first part of the movie, Christopher McCandless travels through the USA and meets new people, who are amazing, but he has a dream : to go in Alaska. One day he fulfils this deam and arrives in this wild place. This is absolutely wonderful ! He discovers a deserted bus (which is probably a refuge of hunters). He calls it "The Magic bus". We can consider this part as a "fall" in a new world because McCandless discovers a world, which were totally unknown for him before : the landscape of Alaska. When he arrives in Alaska, he is indeed very curious (that's why he discovers the "Magic bus" and he doesn't know the danger of the life in nature (it is in link with the sentence of Christopher Booker "Their consciousness is in some way restricted"). But it's not exact to say that he has a "limited experience of the world" because before arriving in Alaska, he travelled through the USA so he has an experience of the life, but he doesn't know the life alone in a wild country.
2. Initial fascination or Dream Stage : McCandless discovers the life in Alaska and enjoys it. He has a book about plants and during the day, he studies the nature. However he has a very big bag of rice to survive. He also hunts rabbits but his is filled with wonder at wild animals, like a hing. This is the apogee of the dream because he's alone in total relation with the environment. Chirtopher Booker says that the new world "is never a place in which they can feel at home". In the case of Chris, this is more an advantage than a drawback because he doesn't want to feel at home, he hates his home. To go father we can also say that he doens't have a place where he feels at home, that's why he decided to give up everything (in the first part of the movie).
3. Frustration stage : Little by little Chris finds the solitude hard to support. The weather becomes cold and the bag of rice decreases. This is the beginning of winter and there is less and less animals for hunts. Chris starts to feel desperate himself. I am not sure that he wants really to come back in the USA but I think he begins to doubt. The dream begins to hide itself and the cruel reality of the nature appears. Although it's not really a nightmare, Chris (and the viewer) see a shadow It is the solitude and the hardness of the life, whom Chris wanted to escape. In the film, this stage is illustrated by a change of colours, which were very luminous and are now paler.
4. Nightmare stage : Now, there is no rice. Chris is thin and weak. Contrary to the beginning of the experience he finds this is a nightmare. He tries to come back but the river which he took to come is now full. Although there is another way to come back he doesn't know its existence. He is sentenced to stay in the Magic bus. One day, a bear comes but the animal doesn't want kill him, because he's too weak and too ill. Chris takes the book about nature and tries to eat plants to survive. Unfortunately he does a mistake and eat poisonous plants. He's very ill. He understands that the end arrives. The "threat" of Christopher Booker is here the hunger, which drives him to eat these poisoned plants. The Nightmare stage is symbolized by the winter and the death of nature, even if it's a little bit a clichee, I like particularly how this stage is directing because we share the suffering of the hero, and the viewer lives the nightmare of Chris.
5. Thrilling escape : He puts his clothes, closes the door of the bus and lies down on the mattress. He looks the sky a last time and thinks to his family. Just before to die, he understands the goal of the life, since happiness is only real when shared. The death of Chris arrives with the spring and the first flower. He is exhausted. Even if there is no return, I think there is a "spiritual return" because at the end, Christopher understands why he hated his life in the life; because has never made the effort to see for which point the others were important and And especially that he needed the others as they needed him. So there is still a return since He learnt of his experience (even if he had to leave his life). At the end he is without any doubt another person. That's why we must to learn of his sacrifice a lot and that is why he fascinates even today, because this story of a young man called Christopher McCandless, who chose the name of Alexander Supertramp, was true...
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