A Walk in the Woods will certainly generate AT interest. But not in the way some might think.
This movie is essentially about two older people looking for the meaning of the rest of their life by taking a walk on the Appalachian Trail. One battles alcohol. The other is a washed-up author who is seeing friends die. It is a scenario those over 50 see very much in their lives. Which is why I believe the film will MEAN more to the older generation. Young folks will likely find it boring, uninteresting, or upset the way young people are portrayed in it as either hip studs ready to rescue the old codgers or obnoxious and mean. This is not a movie for young people in that sense. The movie examines the thoughts of older people. But in this, young might learn something valuable about life as they see parents and grandparents go through these struggles. Which is a good thing as these days people seem to be very “me centered.”
As for the hiker, ones that have done the AT won’t like a few mishaps with the trail or mistaken scenery placement. But this is not a documentary. Tons of those out there. It shows a few of life’s lessons and also lessons you can learn on the trail. Like what happens when one doesn’t follow Leave No Trace with food and the bears come (although grizzlies are NOT on the AT). I was also happy to see that twice the hikers showed ethics with waste disposal. There was a small 5 second clip of maintainers taking care of the trail. It did show some beautiful spots and how the trail can invigorate you and cause life changes. That will be its draw, as well as the draw of simply seeing a Hollywood flick with AT written all over it that then extends to people buying the book. Which led to the initial surge of hikers after the book’s release.
I am still concerned about the impact of the trail by those that don’t know what to do. And I feel the movie could certainly spur others to try and do it without being adequately prepared. It did not show so much the rigors but in many cases, interesting trail life. That the trail has lots of pit stops and comraderie and social aspects. That will draw folks. But preparation is the key. As well as preservation in observing Leave No Trace.
But do find a mean to life by a hike, whether in yourself are in others. A walk fills the soul in ways this modern world can never do.