Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Walk in the Woods

The video above is the preview for the film, A Walk in the Woods, which based on the memoir of the same name by Bill Bryson. It’s one of my favourite of his books, for several reasons, so I’m not sure if I’m intrigued or horrified. The YouTube description says:
“In this new comedy adventure, celebrated travel writer, Bill Bryson (Academy Award winner Robert Redford), instead of retiring to enjoy his loving and beautiful wife (Academy Award winner Emma Thompson), and large and happy family, challenges himself to hike the Appalachian Trail - 2,200 miles of America’s most unspoiled, spectacular and rugged countryside from Georgia to Maine. The peace and tranquility he hopes to find, though, is anything but, once he agrees to being accompanied by the only person he can find willing to join him on the trek – his long lost and former friend Katz (Academy Award nominee Nick Nolte), a down-on-his-luck serial philanderer who, after a lifetime of relying on his charm and wits to keep one step ahead of the law – sees the trip as a way to sneak out of paying some debts and sneak into one last adventure before its too late. The trouble is, the two have a completely different definition of the word, “adventure”. Now they're about to find out that when you push yourself to the edge, the real fun begins.”
First, it’s amazing how many people don’t realise it’s possible to use paragraphs in YouTube descriptions. Okay, that’s not about the movie—it's just something that bugs me.

The cast looks good, and it could be entertaining, which is why it intrigues me. But the book, while comedic, is also very serious. Among other things, it tells the tale of Rebecca Wight, who was murdered on the Appalachian Trail. I met her partner, Claudia Brenner, who was wounded in the shooting, when we were both campaigning for what became the Hate Crime Statistics Act. While we weren’t friends, we were certainly friendly. Claudia gave a moving talk about the murder, and wrote a book about it, Eight Bullets: One Woman's Story of Surviving Anti-Gay Violence.

So, a "comedy adventure" hardly seems like the right place to discuss such a horrific event, but it was a part of the book. Can other serious tales told in the book survive?

Still, I’ll probably watch the movie, eventually, at least. I’m curious how the real book is treated in the “comedy adventure”. Plus, the Appalachian Trail fascinates me. But I bet I’ll also think about my former colleague, Claudia, and her lost love, Rebecca.

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