Twenty years ago a young American hiker named Chris McCandless, the accomplished son of successful middle class parents, was found dead in an abandoned bus in the Alaskan wilderness and became the subject of the best-selling book and movie “Into the Wild.” Now, PBS undertakes to retrace Chris McCandless’ steps to try to piece together why he severed all ties with his past, burnt or gave away all his money, changed his name and headed into the Denali Wilderness. McCandless own letters, released for the first time, as well as new and surprising interviews probe the mystery that still lies at the heart of a story that has become part of the American literary canon and compels so many to this day.


“Return to the Wild” is a second chance to take a look back at where everything went wrong for Chris McCandless in the Denali wilderness. The new interviews help to paint a picture of Chris and his disconnection from modern life. Still, so much of the material just goes to show how noble intentions ended with such a tragic death. There’s no Walden anymore and people are almost obligated to be part of the machine. Well, those that can’t learn what berries to eat.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t one of the people who really got into the McCandless story. I read the book religiously and I watched the Sean Penn film adaptation more times than I care to count. That being said, there are worse people to idolize than a kid that wanted to try something different. Hopefully, this documentary gets more people to read “Into the Wild”.

The DVD comes with a featurette and interview as the special features. The A/V Quality is on par for most recent standard definition drama releases. The transfer isn’t amazing, but it works. The same goes for the Dolby 5.1 audio track. In the end, I’d recommend a purchase.

RELEASE DATE: 02/24/2015

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