Whether it’s cheesy pop, catchy beats or melancholic tones, movies and music often go hand in hand. But sometimes a soundtrack pops up that sounds like more than just songs. In nature is an example.
Adapted from Jon Krakauerthe book of the same name, Sean Pennis beautifully filmed In nature tells the true story of Chris McCandless, played by Emile Hirsch. After graduating from college in 1990, headstrong Chris hit the road to lead a life of solitude in the Alaskan wilderness. Tragically, just two years later, her body was discovered in an abandoned bus, apparently starved to death. Needless to say, this movie alone is enough to stir up a lot of emotions. However, Eddie VedderThe soundtrack of you takes the experience of it to a whole new level. Unlike many other soundtracks, this one was written specifically for the movie. In fact, it was actually a request from Penn himself. Vedder, who at the time was known as the leader of a rock band, pearl jamhonored Penn’s request and In nature becomes his first solo album. And it’s because of this in-depth thought about the soundtrack that each song feels like a perfectly crafted gem.
The melancholic opening mood of “Long Nights” sets the tone for Chris as he ventures into the vast Alaskan landscape. “Don’t be afraid because when I’m alone I’ll be better than before.” These words make us feel the optimism of Chris, but the apprehension of the unknown. Of course, this is just a preview of what’s to come. Rewind to a few years ago, where we see Chris graduating from college. And this is where it all begins.
Having fulfilled his “duty” of study, he is ready for something greater. Desperate to break free from the shackles of everyday life, he donates all his savings to charity and ventures down the road, without a word to his family. As we see it speeding (well, the equivalent of a rickety car) past the skyscraper structures of civilization, “Hard Sun” kicks into gear. His “rubber” journey has only just begun, just like that of the spectator. This driving rhythm is the ideal accompaniment to the beginnings of adventure. As Vedder’s voice increases in power, it can be seen as echoing Chris’ adrenaline rush.
But as Chris’ journey evolves, encompassing several meaningful encounters with a hippie couple, a helpful farmer, and a lonely elderly man, the songs also begin to gain more layers. “No Ceiling” gives us lyrics such as “I will keep this wisdom in my flesh. I’m leaving here believing more than I had. And “Guaranteed” highlights his burning desire to escape, with the lyrics, “Everyone I meet in cages they bought.” But one of the most moving songs comes halfway through. And this is the “Society”. Cue Vedder’s deep tones again, add some really poignant lyrics and you’ve got a little slice of magic. This piece, co-written by jerry hannan, perfectly enhances the visuals of Chris’ new reality. But what makes it all the more powerful is the stark contrast to the previous scene. As we watch Chris stare out a bar window, we see everything he’s been running from. On the other side of the glass is a businessman, a strong reminder to Chris of all that he does not want to become. Vedder’s voice provides Chris’ inner voice. “We have a greed, which we agreed with” and “Society, you are a crazy breed. I hope you are not alone without me”, he sings, as we see Chris looking for his next meals in nature. While the majestic setting of the Alaskan mountains provides a stunning visual backdrop, Vedder’s powerful and haunting vocals pierce the ears. This song brilliantly highlights Chris’ internal struggles and is certainly the one which will remain in the mind long after its end.
While this song may be remarkable, there are many more pearls of wisdom in Vedder’s lyrics to come. As the film regularly jumps in time, it also allows the soundtrack to follow less structure. Without this limit, music can make you cry one minute and give you a sense of hope the next. And with so many quiet, thoughtful scenes with no dialogue, the songs almost become a necessary part of the plot. Whether it’s the call to action of “Setting Forth” or the serene sounds of “Tuolumne”, we are often guided by the soundtrack. One that is particularly noteworthy is “The Wolf”. Simply an organ piece with some weird wailing noises (courtesy of Vedder), it conveys the feel of nature superbly.
As Chris stands on top of a snow-capped mountain admiring the beauty of nature, it begins to feel like an immersive experience for the viewer. However, unlike many songs that build Chris’ journey, the understated score that accompanies scenes with his parents, played by Guillaume Blessé and Marcia Gay Harden, is equally moving. You could say this represents the indescribable nature of the torment they go through, not knowing where their son is. Unlike the stream of words that can be associated with Chris’ emotions, their type of emotions often cannot be explained.
And that’s ultimately what makes music In nature so moving – the fact that it’s based on a real-life tragedy. These songs aren’t just reflections on a character, they’re hard-hitting glimpses into pivotal moments in a young man’s life. One of the most tragic aspects of Chris’ story is that he comes to realize that “happiness is only real when shared”. This heartbreaking feeling that Chris writes in a book is one of his last thoughts before his life is cut short. All the poignant lyrics of Vedder’s music ultimately led to this final awakening. Chris got what he needed from this experience and was ready to return to civilization.
While many films are inspired by the song, In natureThe soundtrack of is something really dominating. It’s not just a selection of melodies scattered across the stages, but rather a deeply affecting backing to the story itself.