Thursday, 30 July 2015

Fairbanks AK, USA

The short but intense life of Christopher McCandles is the subject of the film INTO THE WILD. The true story is based on the book by the same name of Jon Krakauer who describes how, after two years of travelling across North America, Christopher McCandles died in Alaska at the age of 24. Disappointed in society he had decided to drastically change his life after graduating.

Into the Wild, 1:43:10
Without notifying his family and friends he left his conventional life and set out for a long journey that would end in Alaska. In the Denali Borough, far away from the civilized world, he found an old city bus used by hunters to spend the night. He stayed here for several months but would not survive. He died most probably of starvation, perhaps in combination with eating a toxic plant.

Filming all over the United States was done between 24 April and 4 November 2006. Alaska was visited several times. The movie opens with Christopher McCandles (Emile Hirsch) arriving in Fairbanks, the third largest city of Alaska. His image is not seen, only lines from a postcard he sent to Wayne Westerberg (Vince Vaughn), his employer for a short time. While Eddie Vedder’s “Guaranteed” is playing, one of the 11 songs composed specially for the film, various images of the Fairbanks area are shown.

The Chena River runs through the city. From the Barnette St Bridge the power plant is visible on the left and on the right is the Elks Lodge #1551, a community building with settlements all over the United States. An elk is a deer which explains the deer on top of the building. The address is 1003 Pioneer Rd. The official name of the power plant is Aurora Energy Coal Power Plant and District Heat System and is shown a second time. The building is located at 1206 1st Ave.

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View from Barnette St Bridge, Fairbanks, 18 July 2015
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Aurora Energy Coal Power Plant, Fairbanks, 18 July 2015

Near the Barnette St Bridge is The Big-I, the oldest bar in Fairbanks and one of the city’s best known places. This Irish pub can be found at 122 N Turner St. During filming the full name, The Big International, was on the facade.

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The Big-I, Fairbanks, 18 July 2015

2nd Ave is within walking distance of Barnette St on the other side of the river. On the left is supermarket Co-op at number 535 and Soapy Smith’s Pioneer Restaurant is at number 543. The buildings have hardly changed, the banner of the restaurant is still the same but has visible traces of bad weather.

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2nd Ave, Fairbanks, 18 July 2015

Just down the road, near the river, is the Masonic Temple at 809 1st Ave. As is seen above the name, this historic building dates from 1906. It has had several owners, during our visit it was empty. Although listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is falling into disrepair.

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Masonic Temple, Fairbanks, 18 July 2015

Outside the city is Gold Hill, a liquor store on the Parks Highway, connecting Fairbanks with Denali National Park. The number is 3040 but from the road the yellow building, now renewed, is easy to spot.

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Gold Hill, Fairbanks, 16 July 2015

On the other side of the city Alaskan Prospectors is located, a store specialized in “Alaska Gold prospecting equipment and information” as is stated on their website. It is has been in business for more than 40 years. The address is 504 College Road.

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Alaskan Prospectors, Fairbanks, 18 July 2015
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Alaskan Prospectors, Fairbanks, 18 July 2015

The Down Under Guns shop was closed in 2007. The address we found online, 318 Driveaway St, is an abandoned lot. The building has completely dissolved.

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Fairbanks, 18 July 2015

Screenshots © Paramount Vantage/River Road Entertainment

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