By the Time You Have Completed This Unit, You Should

Study Record

By the time you have completed this unit, you should

1.  understand the way film language creates and interests setting and character;

2.  understand different styles of filming;

3.  be able to describe how verbal and visual features are combined for different purposes;

4.  be able to respond to and interpret meaning, ideas and effects;

5.  understand the importance of post-production to a film, and be able to describe its impact;

6.  be able to engage with critically with the text;

7.  write an essay about an aspect of the text.

Fill in the boxes below with the appropriate date, and tick only when the task is satisfactorily completed. Your teacher will tell you which tasks are required.

This will help you see your progress, and to catch up on any missed work.

Class work / Homework / Due date / Completed / Grade
After the First Viewing
Initial Quiz
Plot Summary
Plot Analysis
Narrative Structure 2
Styles of Film-making
Close Reading Task Sheet 1
Close Reading Task Sheet 2
Close Reading Task Sheet 3
Close Reading Task Sheet 4
Adapting the Book
Responding to the Critics
Techniques Worksheet
Analysis of Graduation Scene
Complete the Quotations
Revision Quiz


Easy Plot Summary

In May, ______, Chris McCandless is dropped off at the start of the ______Trail in ______, and walks into the wild where he plans to ______. He has spent the previous ______years wandering and ______around America.

After he ______from college in 1990, Chris destroys his ______and ______documents, and sends his $24,000 ______to ______. He leaves his ______without telling his family where he is going. After his car is caught in a ______in the ______Desert, he burns what is left of his ______and attempts to ______the land.

Chris spends a great deal of time ______but also has encounters with a series of people.

He spends some time with a pair of middle-aged hippies, ______' Rainey and Jan; and he works for a while ______in South Dakota.

He shoots the rapids on the ______in a ______, and meets a ______couple. He takes his kayak down river to the ______. Back in America a ______later, he briefly flirts with the idea of ______his real ______, but changes his mind and works in a ______place to raise money for ______. He meets Jan and Rainey again at ______, California, and spends a little time with a young girl, ______.

He stays for a while with an elderly ex-army ______worker, ______Franz, who becomes very ______of him, but Chris leaves him to pursue his dream of ______.

There, he finds makeshift ______in an abandoned ______, and finds joy in living off the land. He keeps a j______of his ______in the back of a book.

Although he initially revels in the ______, he comes to realise that he too needs ______, and he decides to return to ______.

Unfortunately, the ______river he crossed in May is now a ______from snow melt, and he is ______in the wild.

Reduced to living off what he can find, and with ______in short supply, he resorts to eating ______. He confuses a ______plant for an ______one, and this leads to ______and death.

Techniques Worksheet

Ä  What is the technical term for the technique used for each of the following? The scene number is in [ ].

1.  the opening shot where blackness is gradually replaced with an image [1]
2.  views of the landscape as seen by Chris from the train [2]
3.  handwritten text shown over pictures of the town [3]
4.  shot of the landscape from above [4]
5.  Chris looks smaller and smaller as he walks [4]
6.  series of shots cut together to show a length of time[6]
7.  the camera focuses on the caterpillar and hen shifts focus to Chris [15]
8.  Scene 9 begins with a finger stirring a drink
9.  the light effect when Chris watches the seagulls [18]
10.  technique used several times to show heights of exhilaration such as in the rapids [32] or in the shower [44]
11.  the view of the truck tilted sideways [46]
12.  Rainey calls Tracy "our little Joanie Mitchell" [5]
13.  Sc. 18, when Chris and Rainey talk, the focus is on them and the background is blurry
14.  Chris looks up at vapour trails in several different scenes.
15.  When Chris talks to Wayne in the bar, shots alternate between the two. [26]

Analysis of Shots and Editing


The three graduation scenes are differentiated by colour: Chris is in a black academic gown; his black mortar board has a yellow tassel. Walt is in black with a black tassel. Billie is in blue, with a blue tassel.

This page is designed to save you time when you are making notes but it isn't intended to be a fill-in-the-gaps exercise. Analyse the scene and then fill in the shots and editing. Focus on the scene, not on the worksheet. Label shots as PT or F/B

______his parents stand as the mortar boards fly up
______; ______on them ______/ I see them standing at the formal gates of their colleges
______young Walt comes forward with his scroll and a big smile; he throws up his mortar board / I see my father strolling out
______face, hand / under the ochre sandstone arch, the
red bricks ______/ red tiles glinting like bent
plates of blood behind his head, I
Billie with friends, wrought iron gates / see my mother
______she looks round
two books she holds
same two books ______/ with a few light books at her hip
______to her face, her wide smile / standing at the pillar made of tiny bricks,
______up to gates / with the wrought-iron gate still open behind her, its
sword-tips black in the May air,
______up to gates ______, sharpen
black mortar boards against blue ______and become blue ______/ they are about to graduate, they are about to get married,
they are kids, they are dumb, all they know is they are
innocent, they would never hurt anybody.
mortar boards ______
Walt looks up at mortar boards, turns and looks fondly at Billie ______to Billie who returns his look //
______Billie shimmies / I want to go up to them and say Stop,
don’t do it — she’s the wrong woman,
______Walt, ______down to where he pulls up his trouser leg / he’s the wrong man, you are going to do things
you cannot imagine you would ever do,
Walt looks up ______/ you are going to do bad things to children,
you are going to suffer in ways you have not heard of,
you are going to want to die.
his ______: mortar boards against the sky
______Chris hugs his sister / I want to go
up to them there in the late May sunlight and say it, …
______arm round her, they walk out of frame / I don’t do it. I want to live.

Complete the Quotations

Ä  Complete each quotation – preferably without looking them up.

1.  'Happiness only real
2.  'I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong, to
3.  I'm Supertramp, and you're
4.  When you forgive, you love. And when you love,
5.  Chris measured himself and those around him by a
6.  Mr Franz, I think careers are a 20th century invention and
7.  You look like a
8.  … rather than love, than money, than faith, than fame, than fairness – give me
9.  I don’t need money. Makes
10.  I don't want any thing. These
11.  Chris had always been driven, had always
12.  This is a mistake. It's a mistake to get
13.  I've eaten enough sand to send
14.  The initial comfort that gave Mom and Dad quickly turned to the realisation that Chris was
15.  If I see you again I won't arrest you; I'll
16.  But you’re wrong if you think the joy of life comes principally
17.  to call each thing by
18.  I’m not destitute. I’m living like this
19.  A year and a half had passed in what Dad called
20.  … my parents' anger, their desperation, their guilt was giving way

Revision Quiz

About the film

1.  Who wrote the book on which the movie was based?
2.  Who wrote the screenplay?
3.  And who directed it?
4.  Name the actor who plays Chris McCandless.
5.  Which of the supporting actors was nominated for an Oscar?
6.  The film was nominated for a second Oscar. For what?
7.  What is interesting about the actor who plays Rainey?
8.  Where was the film shot?
9.  Which two cameo parts were played not by actors but by the real people? / a

Who's Who?

Match up the actor with the character they play, the description of the character:

1.  Jena Malone
2.  Marcia Gay Harden
3.  William Hurt
4.  Catherine Keener
5.  Brian Dierker
6.  Kristen Stewart
7.  Hal Holbrook
8.  Vince Vaughn
9.  Thure Lindhardt
10.  Signe Egholm Olsen

Carine, Billie, Walt, Jan, Rainey, Tracy, Ron Franz, Wayne, Mads, Ingrid

Chris's mother; Chris's father; Chris's sister; a young singer; an elderly leather worker; a grain harvester; a young singer; a 'rubber' tramp; a Danish tourist; a 'rubber' tramp; a Danish tourist


Ä  Apart from those nominated for this film, there are a number of Oscar winners and nominees associated with this film. Who are they?

Ä  What recent and not dissimilar movie did cinematographer Eric Gautier also photograph?