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Event, film offers alternate view on McCandless story

Submitted by Terrence Cole
Phone: 907-474-6995


The University of Alaska Fairbanks Office of Public History and the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society will host a movie screening and discussion, "The Truths About Chris McCandless and Popular Images of Alaska," Monday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m. at Schaible Auditorium on the UAF campus.

The event will include the Fairbanks premiere of "The Call of the Wild," a documentary film by Boston filmmaker Ron Lamothe. The films follows McCandless on his journey across the country that ultimately led him to an abandoned bus on the Stampede Trail near Denali National Park, where the 24-year-old died in August 1992.

McCandless was the subject of author Jon Krakauer's book, "Into the Wild," as well as the recently released Sean Penn film of the same name.

In his film, Lamothe offers a different perspective on McCandless' life and travels. As part of that effort, he offers alternate hypotheses on the cause of McCandless' death, his inability to hike to the Parks Highway and his final communication, a note left at the bus. The film includes interviews with local scientists and historians, including UAF chemistry professor Tom Clausen, who found that the seeds blamed for poisoning McCandless are not toxic.

The event will include an introduction by Lamothe, as well as a discussion period following the film. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.

"I think this film and the controversy over McCandless' death provides a fascinating window on how Alaska is viewed by the outside world," said Terrence Cole, director of the UAF Office of Public History. "The work of Tom Clausen highlights the need for evidence in historical investigation." CONTACT: Terrence Cole, director, UAF Office of Public History, at 907-474-6995 or via e-mail at fftmc@uaf.edu. Marmian Grimes, UAF public information officer, at 907-474-7902 or via e-mail at marmian.grimes@uaf.edu.

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