Friday, January 22, 2016

The Novel and the Movie: Wild

I hope you've got your popcorn ready, because here's another match up of best-selling books, and their movie adaptation counterparts! (Check out my past posts in this series, with The Maltese Falcon, and Bridget Jones' Diary!)

Today, we're doing something a little different... simply because the book we're discussing ISN'T A NOVEL. (So all of you who are tempted to leave that comment down below, don't worry: I'm already well aware!) Why should only fiction have all the fun?

Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, follows one woman's account of her journey - emotional and spiritual, as much as physical - while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail from California to Oregon, as well as the events in her life that lead her to that point. It's a favorite of my sister, Delaney - the kid who worked in Yellowstone National Park the whole summer - and she had been begging me to read it for quite some time, so I finally tackled the tome while home for Winter Break. Of course, we had to follow up immediately with the movie (unsurprisingly, another one of her favorites).

Which left me to ponder, which medium - the book or the movie - really depicted Cheryl's journey at its most raw and realistic? 


Filled with descriptions of luscious nature scenes, interactions with wildlife and fellow hikers, and the struggles that had pushed Strayed into such an extreme situation, the book has been highly rated on Goodreads and touted by the likes of Oprah for the past couple of years. It was actually a Goodreads Choice Winner way back in 2012, the year it was published!

To be honest, I didn't really love it. I ended up giving it 3 stars on GR, and even reflecting on it, I'm still left feeling like it was a little lackluster.

The way Strayed told her story was incredibly emotional, but also came off as somewhat self-aggrandizing, which raised the question for me as to whether she padded any of her experiences for the sake of a good story.

It was also a bit of a bummer for visualization's sake: I couldn't picture the scope of what this kind of undertaking would entail, because I couldn't really see it. And descriptions of the beauty of nature are all well and good, and appropriately given some space in book form; however, there was still a feeling of disconnect.

What I will say about the book, was that it gave a lot of context to her personal experiences and just how far she'd sunk from who she wanted to be. It really served as a great example of finding power by putting things into your own words, and owning the story.

Notes from the Field

  • Ew. Ew. Ew. 
  • God, and I think it's bad when I go camping for a three-day weekend. 
  • Not testing out equipment beforehand seems unsafe. 
  • Doing all of this alone seems unsafe. 
  • Unsafe, unsafe, unsafe!!! 
  • EWWWWW... 


The movie, both starring Reese Witherspoon as Strayed - both as a teen and as a twenty-something, throughout the chronological course of the book - as well as utilizing her as a producer, premiered to positive reviews by both viewers and critics alike back in 2014. The Rotten Tomatoes score for this movie stands at 90%, with audiences reporting 75% approval ratings as well!

The movie, in my opinion, did a much better job at demonstrating the emotional core and physical exertion of the book. Overall, I think it just gave better representation to the story, because even though the book allows the author to express things in their own words, Witherspoon really brought her acting A-game to this role: seeing the tragedy of Strayed's life, and the temerity she displayed in attempting this feat, was just better represented.

Besides, you can't beat the vastness of a blissfully filtered panorama shot with a paragraph of description. A lot of it comes down to the intensely visual nature of depicting such physical acts and surroundings: It's one thing to read about the places within the novel, and quite another to actually visualize the beauty of it.

Additionally, the artsy editing and exceptional soundtrack options helped lend more translatable emotional meaning, too. I definitely cried, multiple times. It was gross.

Notes from the Field

  • God, Reese Witherspoon is just so gorgeous. Also, potentially immortal. 
  • Hey, Laura Dern!
  • I want to know what Instagram filter they filmed all this footage in. 
  • So, they just got rid of the sister? 
  • I think I'm going to hate this song by the time this movie is over. 


Shock and awe! For the first time in this blog series, I have to say that I thought the movie was much better than the book! I still wasn't 100% on board with the story, and definitely can't quite measure up to the kind of love my sister has for it, but the movie just did a better job at conveying the emotional distress, physical stress, and grandiose surroundings that much more effectively. (Also, I love Reese Witherspoon.) 

Have you seen or read Wild? Which would you say was better? What book and movie team should I tackle next? Let me know, in the comments below! 


  1. I am curious about this book and film, but maybe not enough to actually get into it - so it's nice to just read your thoughts on both of them. :) I think the distress and the hardship of the story puts me off, and I think I'd have to be in a very special mood to get into it. It's great that the movie managed to be better than the book for you - it is so rare when that happens! :)

    1. There's definitely plenty of material in both the book and the movie that would put people off... I know a lot of it made me uncomfortable! Definitely not for your casual night of viewing/reading, but I can tend to be the kind of person who loves long bouts of crying because of books and movies, so if you're ever in that kind of mood! :) Thanks for stopping by!