If you’re a big believer of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, then abandoning all your possessions and heading back to nature is the only way to cure society of its ills. Modern life takes a leap forward with each passing decade, and sometimes, with each new technological leap, society finds itself unable to go on without the latest addition. Some are not content to merely live in this world as a daily penance, to walk along the roads of life in a daze, never really awake, but not entirely unconscious either. Life can’t be fully explored without weathering storms, rapids, mountains and other forces of nature simultaneously evoke both pleasure and fear: a manifestations of nature’s truest self. In honor of the release of Wild on DVD and Blu-ray, here are five that went back to nature.
2013 was McConaughey’s year, but 2014 could be the start of something grand for Reese Witherspoon, a fellow rom-com alum. Playing Cheryl Strayed, a woman who chose to recover from her mother’s death and her fall from grace by trekking the Pacific Crest Trail, was a departure of sorts for Witherspoon, but she succeeded, embodying the role with the sense of poise and gravity that undertaking a 1,100-mile solo hike would require.
Grizzly Man (2005)
Certainly not light viewing, Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man depicts the fatal encounter of bear activists Timothy Treadwell and Amie Huguenard at Katmai National Park in Alaska. Accounts of Treadwell range from his compassion to those who feel “He got what he deserved.” Herzog doesn’t sentimentalize Treadwell and his trademark darkness is frequently on display. Still, for the few moments of solace captured, Grizzly Man proves fascinating a window into the beauty and danger of nature.
Into the Wild (2007)
Christopher McCandless had the perfect life: wealth, education, loving family, and a limitless future. So when he decided to give his savings to charity and live in the wilderness of Alaska, he turned some heads. Ironically, it’s the solitude of Alaska that makes McCandless realize the worth of friends, family and people who care. One cannot live a fulfilled life alone and the tragedy of the film is McCandless finds that out far too late.
Jeremiah Johnson (1972)
Fresh off of a campaign in the U.S. Army, Jeremiah Johnson decides to leave it all behind and live in the wilderness of Colorado. The horrors of war have left their mark on Jeremiah and a little piece of quiet in the mountains is just what he needs. Life as a hermit means acquiring more friends than he would have first thought.
The Kings of Summer (2013)
When three high-schoolers decide that their parents are too involved in their lives, they spend a summer in the woods building and enjoying their new home. Independence suits the teens fine, save the occasional trip to Boston Market for sustenance, but their parents aren’t ready to let go. Joe, Patrick and Biaggio just want to be free, feel a connection to their environment, and to choose a life that suits them. Who could blame them?