Wild movies: Letters from the Big Man and more

By , April 22, 2013

Are you still coming down from Cheryl Strayed’s visit? Here are some movies that will definitely tickle your solitary, backpacking, nature-as-solace fancy.

Letters from the Big Man

Christopher Munch’s under appreciated Letters from the Big Man is about the spiritual transformation of fierce backpacker Sarah (Lily Rabe). When she takes a work trek in the mountains of southwestern Oregon, her solitude is disturbed by something big and furry that isn’t a bear. It’s Sasquatch. It’s hard to put into words the Bigfoot-as-third-eye-forest-angel concept of this movie. It is a recursive conundrum because ineffability is the very nature of Sasquatch. To ask, “where’s the body of this huge dead primate?” is to ask the wrong question. This mystical approach probably produces chagrin in both Bigfoot hunters and skeptics. Such daring is typical of the film. The only other human protagonist is a burly logger. Munch doesn’t shy away from society’s reliance on paper when framing the logging issue. Though audacious, Letters from the Big Man is also a story of empathy and tenderness. One of my favorite films in recent years.

The Hunter

Martin (Willem Defoe) is a professional sharpshooter hired to track and kill the last remaining Tazmanian Tiger. When he meets a family whose lives were destroyed by the same corporation that is funding his mission, he’s forced to question his values. Director Daniel Nettheim goes all Terrence Malick on the Tasmanian landscape. Sam Neill’s role as a scheming local functions as an evil doppelganger to Dr. Alan Grant. You could also check out the novel by Julia Leigh which the movie is based on.


Wendy and Lucy

Wendy (Michelle Williams) and Lucy, her beloved dog, have to figure out a way to get from Oregon to Alaska with only a little money and a lot of determination. Wendy’s predicaments closely parallel those of Strayed in Wild. What we get is a sort of hipster retelling of Ol’ Yeller that film nerds freaked over when first released. I know that Michelle Williams acting twitterpated and naive for ninety minutes pinged my heart. Williams so embodies the beleaguered Lucy I didn’t even know it was her, Michelle Williams – famous actress, until years later.

Take your DVD player on the trail.

- Bryan

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