What I’ve watched in 2017–18: Period films

As I mentioned in the index post, I watch a lot of films and TV and, like a good little autist, I make lists. So here’s all the period films I watched in 2017 and 2018. But then didn’t get round to polishing it into actual blog posts. Apparently I watch a lot of period works, so period TV is in a separate post.

The Greatest Showman (2017)

The Greatest Showman is a musical, loosely based on the life of PT Barnum, founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Clearly, it is a romanticisation of much of his life and it should not be considered a work of history, but it is a lot of fun. And, as you’d expect from a musical — let alone one with Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron in — it’s really popular with young kids and (some of) their parents.

To be fair, there are some cracking tunes there; the songs are by Pasek and Paul, who wrote the musical Dear Evan Hansen and La La Land and have won a crapload of awards. Keala Settle and Zendaya are the acts we see the most of (as a bearded lady and a trapezist, respectively), and it’s their songs that spin round my head the most. As an indication of how much I enjoyed the film, when I was travelling to the 2019 mySociety Retreat, I intended to read the New Statesman while listening to The Greatest Showman again; I didn’t get as far as 3 articles.

The Greatest Showman is available to stream from NowTV and Sky Go; it can be rented for £3·49 or bought from £7·99. It’s inclusive on 3 different HBO services in the US, or can be bought from US$19.99; in Canada it’s on Crave, can be rented from C$3.99 or bought from C$24.99.

Spy Game (2001)

Set in 1991, this Tony Scott film sees a senior CIA analyst (Robert Redford) is on his way to his last day at Langley before retiring, when he finds out his estranged protégé (Brad Pitt) has been caught red-handed trying to break a political prisoner out of a Chinese gaol — without Agency sanction — and is due to be executed in 24 hours.

While senior spooks (including Stephen Dillane) hold a crisis meeting to work out whether to burn Pitt, Redford’s character talks us through how he met and trained him, how they came to fall apart and who it is he was breaking out — all the while working out how to save Pitt’s life.

This is the film Brad Pitt took in favour of the first in the Bourne franchise. I had procrastinated about watching this a few times and I really shouldn’t have — Redford is bang on in describing it as “a thinking man’s action film”, which is what drew him to the project. It has been suggested that this is the third in a trilogy, along with “one of the greatest espionage films ever made”, 1975’s Three Days of the Condor, and 1992’s Sneakers; I saw Condor as a result of this suggestion and I can definitely recommend that film too.

Spy Game is inclusive with Netflix in the UK, it’s carried on both Starz services in the US and Amazon Prime Canada. It is available to buy from US$8.99 and to rent from US$2.99; it’s $1 more expensive in Canada.

The Post (2017)

The Post is a journalism procedural film — proper “how the news gets made” stuff — about the Pentagon Papers, which exposed American politicians’ lies about the Vietnam War). The story first broke in The New York Times, who were quickly injuncted by Nixon’s attorney-general, and then The Washington Post took up the baton, publishing the same injuncted material itself.

At the time, the Post was not the world-renowned organ it is now. Under the editorship of Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and the proprietor Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep), the paper rose from having been considered a house paper for the JFK and LBJ administrations to being internationally respected for its investigatory journalism — largely on the back of the Pentagon Papers and Watergate, the latter earning the paper a Pulitzer.

Great film, in interesting times. And I liked the nod to Watergate at the end.

The Post is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video in the UK, 3 different HBO services in the US and Crave in Canada. It can be rented from £2·49 or C$3.99 and bought from £4·99, US$19.99 or C$24.99; apparently it’s not currently available to rent in the US.

Argo (2012)

Affleck, with George Clooney and Grant Heslov, won the Best Picture Oscar for this historical drama set in 1979–80 during the Iran Hostage Crisis, with Chris Terrio winning for Best Adapted Screenplay and William Goldenberg. for Best Editing.

After the Iranian Revolution overthrew the US- and UK-backed Shah, the US embassy was overrun by a revolutionary mob but 6 people managed to escape and hide out in the Canadian ambassador’s residence. So the CIA and Canada put together the “Canadian Caper” — cover involving a fake movie in order to pretend that the 6 Americans were actually Canadians location-scouting in Tehran to secure their escape. No, really: there’s a long-read on Wired about it, which was one of the sources for the screenplay. There are (of course) some historical inaccuracies — in particular by underplaying the British, Canadian and Kiwi efforts to protect the American embassy staff, but also overplaying the imminent danger, including inventing a dramatic escape at the last minute. That notwithstanding, the film is a lot of fun and I may well watch it again.

Also, I pticly liked the beautiful intro with storyboard-style historical background information, which can be seen frame-by-frame on Movie-Screencaps.com

I watched Argo on Amazon Prime; it’s widely available to rent from £2·49, US$2.99 or C$3.99 or to buy from £3·99, US$9.99 or C$14.99

The Debt (2011)

The narrative of The Debt, a remake of the 2007 Israeli film HaChov (החוב), mainly follows a 1965 Israeli mission in East Berlin to capture a war-criminal gynæcologist and take him to trial in Israel. Jessica Chastain, Sam Worthington and Marton Csokas play Rachel, David and Stephan, the 3 Mossad operatives capturing the doctor, played by Jesper Christensen.

Some of the film, however, is set 30 years later, as Helen Mirren, Ciarán Hinds and Tom Wilkinson, respectively, see the story of their operation told in a new book by Rachel and Stephan’s daughter. A great fun film, with lots of spy-drama derring-do in Germany’s divided capital.

I watched The Debt on Amazon Prime Video, though it’s no longer available to stream in the UK or Canada; Starz services still carry it in the US, however. It can be rented from £2·49, US$2.99 or C$3.99 and bought from £4·99, US$8.99 or C$9.99

The Last of the Mohicans (1992)

Daniel Day-Lewis and Eric Schweig in The Last of the Mohicans

Set in the middle of the 1700s, during the Seven Years’ War (known as the “French and Indian War” in the British North American colonies), The Last of the Mohicans sees 2 daughters of a British colonel travelling to his fort when their convoy is ambushed by French-allied Wyandot (Huron) fighters. They are saved by 3 trappers — a Mahican father and son, plus their adopted son/brother, a European man raised by them — who escort them to Fort William Henry in upstate New York.

It’s an interesting film, at least in regard to being a slice of how American settler society chose to perceive its early history. And apparently the Oscar-winning sound design made substantial improvement to the sound of musket-fire.

Rotten Tomatoes describes it as “a breathless romantic adventure that plays loose with history”. Obviously, any film set in colonial North America that features Native characters existing primarily for the benefit and protection of White characters is going to be problematic, especially when the very title implies the extinction of an Indigenous Nation who currently number over 3000 people. The source material itself is pretty terrible in how it portrays Native characters — quoting the then-doctoral candidate in Canadian literature from that link: “Cooper may have a legitimate claim to being the first writer to pen some of the most notorious ‘Indian’ characters”. The reviewer goes on to follow “Daniel Francis’s distinction of Indians (a creation of European settler-invaders, often found in literary works) and indigenous people (the peoples that the Europeans actually encountered)”: a useful an important contrast. Another analysis sees Cooper’s work as being foundational to settler colonialism (PDF) in the lands now known as New England.

The Last of the Mohicans is available to rent from £2·49, US$2.99, C$3.99 and available to buy from £4·99 or $14.99 in either currency.

Apocalypto (2006)

I’ve been reading the Obsidian and Blood series recently — 3 novels and 3 shorts by Franco-Vietnamese author Aliette de Bodard, where her protagonist is the High Priest of the Dead in Tenochtitlan (she described them as “Aztec noir fantasy featuring priest-investigator Ācatl”), who needs to help maintain the balance of the Fifth World. I’ve been really enjoying them, so fancied watching something else set in the pre-Columbian Americas.

Filmed entirely Yucatec Maya and set in 1511 — before direct contact but after the effects of the genocidal Columbian Exchange were beginning to be seen in the area (we see a group of Maya being decimated by what is presumably smallpox). Rudy Youngblood won a First Americans in the Arts award for Best actor his portrayal of Jaguar Paw, the protagonist, captured with most of his villagers by another group of Maya, to be used as sacrifice in the hope of breaking drought and ending crop failure.

Mel Gibson is hardly renowned for historical accuracy, so it’s unsurprising that he tries to defend the historicity of Apocalypto. In that regard, however, it’s no better than The Last of the Mohicans. Mixing up a bunch of different periods of Mayan history, exaggerating ‘the violence of the savage’, as it were, ignoring evidence of any middle class and throwing in Aztec-style ritual sacrifice not known to be practised by the Maya, there are plenty of things to complain about. Writing for Slant, Matt Zoller Seitz was unimpressed:

It’s impossible to say whether Gibson is straining after the mythic and settling for the cartoonish or if his filmmaking sensibility is so conditioned by his long stint as an R-rated action superstar that he just can’t help reverting. In any event, the second half seems intended less to confirm eternal facts about the human species than to make Friday night crowds recoil and then laugh at the director’s class clown audacity.

David Walsh, writing for the World Socialist Web Site headlined the film as “a painful experience”:

What does Gibson wish to tell us with his film? He explains to interviewers, perhaps not disingenuously, that the genesis of the film was merely the desire to create an exciting and sensational chase scene. And that does contain visually audacious and exciting moments. However, the events and details that have grown up, so to speak, around this central story inevitably reveal the director’s attitude toward the world. Two elements dominate the film: violence and the fear of violence.

To enjoy the film we clearly need to set aside the historicity and that Gibson intended the film partly as a comment on how modern society is destroying itself in ways we have before. The only large settlement we see is an arid, plague-ridden hellscape and Gibson’s screenwriting partner Farhad Safinia describes themes of “environmental degradation, excessive consumption and political corruption”. Ignoring this, it’s both an interesting and entertaining film, albeit mainly being about a long, exciting chase.

Youngblood has become an HIV activist engaging in AIDS walks and visiting HIV-positive children in hospitals — using his profile to draw attention to the rate of HIV infection in the Native community. Indigenous men in the US have twice the rate of HIV infection as Whites; Indigenous women three times so. Having seen a family-member die of AIDS-related complications, he felt it important to “give back and make a difference” and has spoken out about the importance of education in combating ignorance around HIV and AIDS, alcoholism, drug abuse and child abuse.

When I watched it, Apocalypto was available on Netflix UK; since then it has instead become inclusive on Amazon or to rent and buy from under £2. It does not appear to be available legally in North America.

The Nice Guys (2016)

Set in 1970s LA, The Nice Guyswritten and directed by Shane Black, creator of the Lethal Weapon series, amongst other films — sees private eye Ryan Gosling and freelance thug Russell Crowe investigating the murder of a porn star and uncovering a conspiracy.

It’s a lot of fun and takes itself even less seriously than Lethal Weapon. Crowe and Gosling make an entertaining odd-couple, with Gosling’s character’s teen daughter “helping out” and providing even more opportunity for amusement.

The Nice Guys was inclusive on Netflix when I watched it, though it appears no longer to be. It can be rented from £1·49, US$3.99 or C$3.99 and bought from £1·99, US$9.99 or C$14.99

Mississippi Burning (1988)

In Mississippi Burning, the FBI rock up to a small town to investigate the disappearance of 3 civil rights workers who we see being shot by the local police in the opening scene.

The film is loosely based on the 1964 Chaney, Goodman, Schwerner murder investigation, where the 3 men — 2 white Jewish New Yorkers and 1 black Mississippian — had been working on voter registration in the Freedom Summer campaign trying to break down over 70 years of systematic disenfranchisement of black voters and were murdered by local Klansmen, including members of the country sheriff’s office; the arrival of the FBI and 400 US Navy soldiers over the course of the investigation brought national media attention and local lynchings, arson and burning crosses.

While heavily criticised by African-American activists involved in the civil rights movement and the families of the murdered men for its fictionalisation of history, it’s a pretty damning indictment of the time and place. Gene Hackman and a surprisingly young Willem Dafoe are the 2 lead Feds, with rather different views on how to get to convictions.

Pruitt Taylor Vince’s character in the film is based on Edgar Ray Killen, a recruiter for the Klan who died in gaol after being convicted (at the age of 80) on the 41st anniversary of instigating the killings and sentenced to serve 3 consecutive 20-year sentences, the maximum possible; he was the only person convicted of the murders themselves. In a federal trial for conspiracy and civil rights deprivations (there being no federal murder statute at the time), an all-white jury convicted 7 men, the first time an all-white jury had convicted a white official for civil rights abuses and the first successful federal prosecution of a civil rights case in Mississippi.

Klan Imperial Wizard Samuel Bowers (the basis for Stephen Tobolowsky’s character) was gaoled for 10 years and died in gaol after being convicted in 1998 of a 1966 murder, Alton Wayne Roberts (fictionalised by Michael Rooker), deputy sheriff Cecil Price (fictionalised by Brad Dourif) was gaoled for 6 years and 4 more Klansmen were gaoled for 3–6 years each; 8 other men were acquitted, including the Neshoba County sheriff, Lawrence A. Rainey, and the owner of the farm where the 3 activists had been buried. No verdict was reached on 3 other defendants, including Killen.

As you might expect from a film set in The South — pticly in the 1960s — there are a lot of hate crimes and a lot of slurs, racial and otherwise, with pretty much every Mississippian character being proud of their redneck views and their loser flag. If ever there were an argument for collective punishment, racist scum in the American South are it. Punch nazis, ¡no pasaran!

Mississippi Burning is inclusive on Netflix UK, £2·49 to rent on Amazon and £5·99 to buy from Amazon or iTunes. It can be rented or bought from Vudu (US$2.99, $13.99) and iTunes (US$3.99, $14.99) in the US; from Cineplex (C$3.99, $12.99) and iTunes (C$4.99, $9.99).

Detroit (2017)

Detroit is a 2017 period crime drama directed by Kathryn Bigelow and written by Mark Boal. Based on the Algiers Motel incident during the 12th Street Riot in 1967 and was released to commemorate the 50th anniversary. Starring John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jason Mitchell, John Krasinski, Hannah Murray and Anthony Mackie, the film intercuts the action with news photography from the era.

Boyega plays a security guard protecting a grocery store from the rioting, while a group of racist police and National Guardsmen, including Poulter, brutalise the occupants of a motel — in the mistaken belief that sniper fire had been directed at them from there — while Michigan State Police leave Detroit PD to it, because “I don’t want to get involved in any civil rights mix-up”.

The Detroit PD at the time was 93% white, of whom 45% working in black neighbourhoods were considered to be “extremely anti-Negro” and an additional 34% were “prejudiced”. Charges of felonious assault, conspiracy, murder, and conspiracy to commit civil rights abuse were filed against three officers and the security guard was charged with assault and conspiracy. Unsurprisingly for the time, all were found not guilty both in state trials and by an all-white jury in a Federal trial, despite J Edgar Hoover describing the policemen’s statements as “for the most part untrue and were undoubtedly furnished in an attempt to cover their activities and the true series of events” after reviewing them personally.

The film includes racist slurs and prolonged police brutality including murder.

Detroit is inclusive with Netflix UK, Hulu and Crave+. It can be rented from £2·49 or $2.99 and bought from £6·99 or $14.99, with the same dollar prices in both the US and Canada.

The Promise (2016)

Despite the marketing, this film is at least as much about the Armenian Genocide as it is the love triangle between Oscar Isaac’s Armenian medical student, Christian Bale’s American journalist and Charlotte Le Bon, daughter of an Armenian diplomat (and apparently not important enough to have more of a backstory than that). This really is not some charming romance that just happens to have a war in the backdrop.

The casting plays very fast-and-loose with ethnic origins. While there are several surnames ending -ian in the closing credits, our 2 lead Armenian characters are played by a Guatemalan-Cuban and a Québecoise; his mother is the ever-wonderful — but Persian — Shohreh Aghdashloo, though his village sweetheart is Angela Sarafyan (who you may recognise from Westworld), our American is Welsh, their Turkish friend, son of a pasha, is Dutch-Tunisian Marwan Kenzari (who is the buff Jafar in the new Aladdin that everyone was understandably squeeing about).

Richard Roeper’s review in the Chicago Sun-Times is pretty fair, stating that “Yes, The Promise veers into corny territory, and yes, it’s derivative of better war romances — but it’s a solid and sobering reminder of the atrocities of war, bolstered by strong performances from Isaac and Bale, two of the best actors of their generation.”

It must be said, it’s pretty ironic that the film features the standard disclaimer: “The persons and events in this motion picture are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons or events is unintentional.” — especially since James Cromwell plays Henry Morgenthau, penultimate American ambassador to the Sublime Porte, and Jean Reno plays French admiral Louis Dartige du Fournet. The main divergence from the Evacuation of Musa Dagh on 12 September 1915 is that the admiral in reality rescued 4,080 refugees, as opposed to only a hundred or so shown in the film. While I’m sure almost all the characters are composites, where they are not wholly fictional, the film was commended for its historicity, with leading historian of the Armenian Genocide Ara Sarafian saying that the film:

Encompasses specific events, as well as generic ones, that defined the destruction of the Armenians. The geography of the film, the locations, the movement of people, were all in good order … However, most importantly, the key themes were historically accurate. The producers did not take license to go beyond the historical material at hand yet they managed to capture much of the enormity of the Armenian genocide.

The film is literally about the first genocide of the modern era, for which the word ‘genocide’ was coined; a lot of people die (1½ million, indeed), so content notes should be relatively unsurprising.

When I watched it, The Promise was inclusive with Amazon Prime UK; it’s no longer inclusive but can be rented from £2·49 or bought from £4·99 on most services. It is still inclusive on Amazon Prime US and Crave+ and can be rented from US$2.99 or C$3.99 and bought from $9.99 in either currency.

The Angel (2018)

The Angel is a historical spy drama based on (part of) the life of Ashraf Marwan, son-in-law to Egyptian President Nasser and a senior aide to his successor Anwar Sadat, but also a high-level source to Mossad, warning Israel of Egypt’s imminent attack in the Yom Kippur War.

Marwan Kenzari (who played a pasha’s son in The Promise, above) plays the lead here, whose warnings to Israel and simultaneous advice to Sadat to stall the Egyptian and Syrian attack meant that the Yom Kippur War regained the Sinai Peninsula for Egypt but allowed Israel to guard against being wholly overwhelmed. Ashraf Marwan is considered a national hero in both Egypt and Israel; when he died “in mysterious circumstances” in London in 2007, it is widely considered that he was pushed from his fifth-floor balcony.

The Angel is available globally on Netflix.

Bridge of Spies (2015)

Tom Hanks and Mark Rylance in Bridge of Spies.

Bridge of Spies is “inspired by true events”, set in 1957, at the height of the Cold War. This US–German coproduction was nominated for 6 Oscars, with Mark Rylance winning Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal as KGB illegal Rudolf Abel.

At the start of the film, in 1957, we see Abel be arrested; insurance lawyer James B. Donovan (Tom Hanks) is appointed to represent him to ensure the trial is seen as being fair. When convicted, Donovan persuades the judge not to execute Abel. 3 years later, U-2 pilot Gary Powers is shot down over the Soviet Union and convicted in a show-trial, then Donovan receives a letter from East Germany leading the CIA to believe the USSR are willing to exchange the 2, so Donovan is sent to Berlin to negotiate, as the Wall is being built, with the DDR seeking diplomatic recognition at the same time.

Bridge of Spies was inclusive on Netflix UK, but is currently only available to rent from £2·49, US$2.99 or C$3.49 and to buy from £5·99, US$12.99 or C$19.99; it is inclusive on fuboTV in the USA.

The Man from UNCLE (2015)

Alicia Vikander, Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill in The Man from UNCLE

I don’t usually enjoy the films of Guy Ritchie but The Man from UNCLE — obviously, inspired by the 1960s TV series — is really good fun, with some great homages included.

Starting off with a set piece showing CIA-agent Cavill and Vikander, a mechanic from East Berlin, making a daredevil escape over the Wall with KGB-agent Hammer in pursuit, the film moves rapidly on to pairing East and West as an odd-couple alongside Vikander travelling to Rome to try to stop Bad Guys™ in her family gaining control of the world’s biggest nuclear bomb or something.

The 1960s æsthetic is gorgeous and, having just watched an episode of The Avengers shortly beforehand, it felt very much in place and engendered a similar feeling of fond reminiscence that Stranger Things does, albeit reminiscence of TV shows I watched 20 years after broadcast rather than at the time.

In her hatchet-job of Armie Hammer, Anne Helen Petersen mentions that:

The film’s lackluster grosses were primarily the result of weird placement (at the end of the summer) and misguided faith in an audience’s desire to see a television show from the ’60s, with an inscrutable name and two hot but bland dudes, adapted for the big screen.

Like much of Petersen’s article, I think that’s a little unfair — not least because I’m sure there’s a pretty large audience for ’60s TV light action dramas on the big screen, even before accounting for the attractiveness of the 3 leads. Tom Cruise has certainly made a lot of money playing with the Mission Impossible franchise. While the opening weekend’s returns may have been $5m below expectations, it still opened 3rd at the US box and made $110m against a production budget of $75m. The film may not have been the box-office smash they’d hoped for, but it was successful enough that ideas of a sequel were not immediately pooh-poohed; I live in hope.

The Man from UNCLE is available to rent from £2·49, US$2.99, C$4.99 and to buy from £5·99, US$9.99 or C$14.99

Robin Hood (2010)

Russell Crowe as Robin Hood

Ridley Scott directed Brian Helgeland’s screenplay for this “untold story of how the man became the legend”. As you’d expect, Russell Crowe’s accent is all over the place, Cait Blanchett is lovely and Oscar Isaac as hot as ever. While noone will ever beat Alan Rickman at it, Oscar Isaac makes a great arsehole, albeit as King John not the Sheriff.

The historicity is all over the fucking place, but it’s a lot of fun nonetheless, even if it had Steven Padnick swearing at the title card. For us, it definitely benefitted from us having watched Apostle (2018) beforehand, which wanted to be The Wicker Man but was really just Hostel set in 1905, on a fictional remote island. Beautiful closing titles — and who can complain about a soundtrack scored by Hans Zimmer?

Robin Hood is inclusive with Now TV and Sky Go in the UK, with the HBO services in the US. It can be rented from £2·49, US$2.99 or C$3.99 and can be bought from £4·99 or $9.99 in both currencies.

6 Days (2017)

6 Days is a dramatisation of the 1980 Iran embassy hostage crisis, with Abbie Cornish playing Kate Adie, whose career break came when she happened to start her shift early as duty reporter and reported live from the siege.

Jamie Bell plays one of the SAS men, Mark Strong is the negotiator. 2 Brits and 1 Ozzie all of Persian heritage, Ben Turner, Emun Elliott and Michael Denkha play the hostage-takers.

Written and directed by Kiwi pair Glenn Standring and Toa Fraser, 6 Days is a Netflix Original and is available exclusively there in the UK. In North America it’s also available on Hoopla, can be rented from US$1.99 or C$3.99 and bought from $7.99 in both currencies.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010)

Based on characters from a French comic-book series, Les aventures extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec is a fantasy-adventure set in Belle Époque Paris written and directed by Luc Besson.

Bear with me on the plot précis: a mad scientist type has been experimenting with telepathy and accidentally hatches a 136-million-year-old pterosaur that terrorises Paris. Meanwhile, adventuring journalist and travel-writer Adèle Blanc-Sec is trying to bring back to Paris the mummified corpse of the doctor to Pharaoh Ramses II so he can be resurrected to help cure her comatose sister.

It’s (clearly) utter bollocks, but it’s an awful lot of fun.

The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec is inclusive with Amazon Prime and can be rented for £3·49 or bought for £6·99 from Amazon, iTunes and Microsoft. It is US$3.99 to rent from PSN, Microsoft and Vudu, US$7.99 to buy from PSN or US$8.99 from Microsoft. Canadians can only access it from iTunes, at C$4.99 to rent or C$9.99 to buy.

Plunkett & Macleane (1999)

Somehow I had never before seen Plunkett & Macleane, so clearly Jen needed to fix this.

The broad premise is that Jonny Lee Miller and Robert Carlyle are highwaymen in 1740s London, stealing to save for tickets to the New World, pretty much every vaguely funny Brit who can act is a drunken toff, Liv Tyler is beautiful and flirtatious and Ken Stott is evil and lecherous.

You really don’t need to care too much about the plot; it’s not all that important, to be honest, but it is a lot of fun. And the soundtrack is by the ever-excellent Craig Armstrong, which is almost worth watching for alone.

Plunkett & Macleane does not appear to be legally available to download or stream. It’s not even terribly easy to torrent — our copy looked like it was digitised from VHS!

Into the Wild (2007)

Emile Hirsch in Into the Wild.

Into the Wild is directed by Sean Penn with Emile Hirsch starring as Chris McCandless, a young man who graduated from university in 1990 and gave away his entire $24,000 savings before disappearing for a couple of years to find himself.

The scenery in the film is just stunning, as McCandless travelled from California to the Dakotas and then up to Alaska. Hal Holbrook’s performance in particular was exceptional and so moving, earning nominations for an SAG, an Oscar nom and 3 other nominations on top of his 3 previous Emmys and his Tony. (Holbrook was pipped to both awards by Javier Bardem for his performance in No Country for Old Men. Similarly Hirsch was nominated for 9 awards, winning the National Board of Review Award for Breakthrough Performance.

Beautiful scenery but dear gods the lad exhibited such White Privilege. I found it pretty difficult to feel much empathy for someone who had so much and threw it all away at a time where Reagan and Bush Snr were busy ignoring a democide while impoverishing and gaoling so many people, pticly those of colour.

Into the Wild is inclusive on NowTV and Sky Go in the UK, on Showtime and Fubo in the US and both Amazon and Tubi in Canada. It can be rented from £2·49, US$2.99 or C$3.99 and bought from £5·99 or $9.99 in both currencies.

Images are used without permission for the purpose of criticism and review under section 30(1) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. This article’s text is dedicated to the public domain under the terms of the Creative Commons Zero licence. Please feel free to translate, copy, excerpt, share, disseminate and otherwise spread it far and wide. You don’t need to ask me, you don’t need to tell me. Just do it!

 by the author.

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🇪🇺🏳️‍🌈🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿♿⧖ Mainly-gay, mainly-Welsh political geek; proud social justice warrior+trans ally. @WikiLGBT, @OpenRightsGroup, ex- @mySociety. he/him

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Owen Blacker

Owen Blacker

🇪🇺🏳️‍🌈🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿♿⧖ Mainly-gay, mainly-Welsh political geek; proud social justice warrior+trans ally. @WikiLGBT, @OpenRightsGroup, ex- @mySociety. he/him