500 Days in the Wild (2023)

83% – Critics
83% – Audience

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500 Days in the Wild Movie Reviews

Bait & Switch

As an avid backpacker, I started seeing this film being posted (advertised) across many of the online/Facebook hiking groups I’m part of. I decided to rent it from iTunes as I thought it would be the perfect film to help get me excited for this summers hiking adventures. I was really wrong.

There are admittedly a couple positive points, and I will mention those in a minute, but let me save you some time for those who are on the fence about watching. This is not a hiking doc. It’s not really even a nature/scenery doc. What is it then? It’s basically one ladies fetish with Native spirituality and going on a spirit quest to absolve herself of her “white guilt”.

Of the roughly two hours running time that the doc has to try and show us the whole of Canada (ambitious to say the least), it spends about 25% of its time on nature/spiritual conversations with Natives, with the implication that they truly “get it” while the rest of us are just earth-destroying heathens. Hello? Ever spent time on a Native reserve? I guarantee you they are “generally” just as obese, gas guzzling, and self-indulgent as the rest of us white folk.

The documentary climaxes with the main character finishing her journey while coming ashore in a canoe while a small group of local Natives awaits her. She then breaks down into tears and passionately asks their permission to come ashore on to their land. The Native group permits it, and give the main character what she has sought for so long – the absolution of her white guilt. As touching as some might find it, it basically felt like she was just exploiting the Native population for her own purposes, feelings and emotional needs.

Elsewhere in the movie are some nuggets of nice scenery/cinematography, acts of friendship and kindness, and examples of the main character’s admirable will and perseverance – which are nice. But don’t expect any kind of substantial content which will excite the avid backpacker or outdoors person. At best, it will probably just intrigue those who are tired with society and are interested in living an alternative lifestyle.

Also, don’t really expect to see much of Canada either. Even with the time that’s left over after all the Native spirituality conversations, the choice of scenery shown was underwhelming. Much of the time was spent on uninteresting trails that were old rail road beds, some generic snowy woods, and a little bit of canoeing. The most interesting scenery was probably when the main character headed up river through the NWT, but other than that – I feel Canada was rather poorly represented. Beyond that, there’s also lots of filler clips where the main character talks to animals in hushed, reverent, baby-like tones telling them how sacred and ancient they are.

Great stuff, right?

Mind blowing

This documentary movie was stupidly good, the strength of this film maker was incredible, her courage and to see our nation through her eyes was a testament to how beautiful and lucky we are to live here, but also points out how we are taking for granted her beauty. The cinematography was amazing she captured the spirit of nature every step of the way. This filmmaker captured the beauty and power of nature that even the ugly dangerous parts are beautiful. I’m looking forward to hopefully see some more of her works like these. Six years to make a film is in itself an incredible project. Yes she had help and those that help deserve kudos bravo to a magnificent artist.