Tuesday, September 8, 2015

a walk in the woods

A Walk in the Woods - the book, the movie...

I am a big fan of this book, the true story of author Bill Bryson's adventure on the Appalachian Trail. I have read it a couple of times, listened to the audio version, one of the re-reads came after hearing the news that Robert Redford had bought the movie rights ten years ago. In anticipation of the upcoming movie in 2005, I re-read the book (as I usually do before a book makes its movie debut), envisioning a young Sundance, I mean Robert Redford as Bill, and as Katz I could see the overweight and funny John Candy (who was already gone by then). Actually Redford envisioned doing the movie with his pal Paul Newman, But the movie version never happened. Until now.

I must say I was skeptical that Redford would pull this off, the story of Bryson's hiking the AT in his mid 40s, when Redford is now 79. And Nick Nolte? Seriously?

But I was pleasantly surprised, it actually worked! The theatre was filled with geezers, sorry, folks of a certain age who remember Robert Redford, and the laughter was often and genuine.

I never really thought about where they would do the filming, figuring it would be in a soundstage somewhere, but was again surprised and excited to see our own southern Appalachian mountains right there on the big screen. The Amicalola Lodge, a mere 7 miles away from our house (as the crow flies). The symbolic arch at the beginning of the grueling 8.5 miles approach trail. Crossing Neels Gap and the shoe tree. The long walk across Fontana Dam (the tallest dam in the eastern US) and into the Smoky Mountains.

I have read many books by through-hikers, the predominant theme being rain, wet feet, heavy packs, rain, hunger, blisters. But this story was about getting out and enjoying life, away from the everyday, being awe-inspired by the great vistas, tall trees, and clear streams. And about companionship.

This movie version of A Walk in the Woods is very condensed as compared to the book, which often happens with movies, but it is a good representation of the essence of the story. Thanks, Mr. Redford for getting this story to the big screen, now time to read this book one more time, for the rest of the story.

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