Bonnie's Film Website



Wild (2014); Rated R
Driven to the edge by the loss of her beloved mother, the dissolution of her marriage, and a headlong dive into self-destructive behavior, Cheryl Strayed makes a decision to halt her downward spiral and put her life back together again. With no outdoors experience, a heavy backpack and little else to go on but her own will, Cheryl sets out alone to hike the Pacific Crest Trail -- one of the country's longest and toughest through-trails.


Story type:
Man vs. Nature

Personal Response:

  1. I believe the theme of Wild is the importance of moving on from tragedy from one’s past. Cheryl has a very complicated, dismal, and heavy past. She goes hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail to try to find herself and overcome the hardships of her mother’s passing, her divorce, and drug abuse. At the end of the movie, she says very interesting and wise words about her journey through life. Even though she had a difficult past, she would not change it because she would not have the experiences she had along the PCT. It reminds me of the saying “Forgive and forget.” Cheryl forgives not only the people in her life that have caused her pain, but she also forgives herself. However, she does not need nor want to forget her past because it was what led her to who she is as a person.
  2. Wild integrates the attributes of the Man vs. Nature story type successfully in some ways and unsuccessfully in others. Cheryl chose to go into the wild to find herself, so it was not necessarily “inescapable.” But, Cheryl does face many challenging obstacles because of nature which leads to her becoming injured and fatigued. And even though she does not face imminent death, she experiences situations that could have possibly led to death. However, I think the pivotal part of the story type that Wild does not follow is that, for the character, the only way out is through. This is almost the exact opposite of what happened in the movie. Cheryl could have left at any time during her journey; there were many times when she could have “gone out.” However, she felt like she had no other way to escape the hauntings of her past. I think that this film does not exactly fit into this story type but rather makes it its own.
  3. The filmmaking component that stood out to me the most was the cinematic aspect, specifically the sound and cinematography. I loved how the audience could hear Cheryl’s breathing and thoughts and be even more immersed in the film. However, other than her thoughts being narrated and occasional songs, most other sounds were diegetic, which added to the realisticness of the movie. The cinematography was also beautiful, and not just because the setting and scenery were gorgeous. The camera moved with Cheryl for the majority of the movie, like the audience was hiking with her. And, at the end of the film, the camera panned to see Cheryl in a new light as she finished her journey and went on to new things in her life.
  4. The “family” moment in this movie is the first scene when Cheryl peels off her toenail and loses one of her boots and throws the other. The audience becomes immediately hooked because of the grossness and unluckiness that are portrayed. Also, later on in the film, the audience knows that Cheryl has additional shoes with her and is going to pick up new boots at her next stop. However, because this was the first scene in the movie, the audience just thinks that Cheryl is absolutely screwed. I liked that the movie started with this scene because it adds emphasis to the nonlinear timeline of the movie, and draws the audience in.
  5. The scene that struck me the most was the final sequence of the movie. I think it wrapped up the story very nicely and emphasized the importance of her journey. Although it was a bit cliche, I think it worked in the film because of the audience’s empathy with Cheryl and desire for her to have a happy ending. I enjoyed the voiceover of Cheryl talking about everything the PCT taught her and how all the events in her life led to that exact moment and all the moments that would follow.
  6. I really enjoyed watching Wild and analyzing it. I think this was a movie unlike the others we saw in this class, and it told a very worthwhile nonfiction story. The story did not have extravagant characters or plot to rely on; the audience just watched a simple, realistic movie about a woman hiking in the woods. The flashbacks did add action into the story, however, it was done tastefully and not in a cheesy way. The audience also sympathized with Cheryl but did not pity her. I loved watching this movie, and I loved hearing all the great quotes and lessons from it.