Into The Wild

Emile Hirsch and director Sean Penn on the set of Paramount Vantage's Into the Wild - 2007 Paramount Vatage

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

It's September, and that means better movies will start popping up in your local theatres soon - among them a new film by Sean Penn.

It's called "Into the Wild," based on the book by journalist Jon Krakauer. It's the true story of Chris McCandless, an upper-middle-class kid who graduated with honors from Emory University, donated his leftover college funds to charity, severed his ties with his parents and hit the road.

His odyssey would take him from the wheat fields of the Dakotas, to kayaking down the Colorado in the Grand Canyon, and eventually, ultimately, to Alaska.

McCandless was searching for himself in a way some view as heroic. Among those who view him that way is Penn, whose worshipful, almost documentary-style of filmmaking here is startling.

When I asked him about it, he said he was just trying to be truthful to the story, to Chris McCandless. Then he laughed, and said the truth surprises us these days.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.

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