Ella’s two case study on the pursuit of happiness nowadays





Sean Penn,( 2008) Into the Wild.





David Bond, (2013) Project Wild Thing.



For my two case studies, I choose to analyse one documentary called “Project Wild Thing” directed by David Bond and a movie by Sean Penn called “Into The Wild” based on a true story. The latter came out in 2008 and was inspired by the true story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who after graduating from Emory University decides to leave everything he knew behind: family, friends, money… to live in the wilderness. I chose this movie because it was interesting to me to view the journey of a individual who bluntly chooses to leave the society he grew up in, to leave civilization behind and to enter a new lifestyle for the first time: Nature. Christopher wanted to live off the wild land, hunt his own food, like in the Prehistoric Ages. I was intrigued by the story because it was the story of a man who had the courage to make a drastic change in his lifestyle in the pursuit of his freedom and happiness. That subject relates to my research in the way that it refers to the act of rethinking about your current situation in the purpose of satisfying your mental health. My research is based on Maslow’s theories on true happiness and the hierarchy of human needs. Christopher was tormented by the unhappiness of his parents‘ marriage. The resentment that his father and mother had for each other began to affect the well-being of their son Christopher and his sister Carine McCandless. In the movie Christopher McCandless expresses a lot of anger and hate towards his parents in a way that they are shown to be the main reason why he has chosen to leave everything behind. He chose to leave his family without any warning and made sure that he couldn’t be find either. In his first few weeks in the wilderness, Christopher expresses joy and wonder when he sees around him all these beautiful natural environments. We see him enjoying his freedom in Nature. As he travels around these beautiful environments, he does meet on his way different people with whom he shares pleasant moments. Some people even get attached to him but he still chooses to go the wilderness alone. Unfortunately for him, he ends up being trapped by Nature when he accidently eats deadly wild berries that he picked out in the rush of calming his starvation. In his sorrow he realised that true happiness is best lived shared. He understands the importance of having relationship with other people at the end, which is the point in the story that interests me the most. Relating to my research, the importance of human connection with each other for the well-being of our mental health was argued. But this movie shows to the audience how human relationship with one another is quite crucial to our survival. Sean Penn directed the movie by making an adaptation of the book of the same title “Into The Wild” written by Jon Krakauer. Sean Penn read the book quite a few times but only started making the movie 10 years after reading the book. He only re-read it after he had started making drafts of the movie. He realised after making the drafts when he re-read the book that his drafts were practically identic to the story he had read 10 years ago. Very few changes were to be made. The main resources he used to make the movie were primordially the book written by Jon Krakauer. He found it very enlightening, he could picture in his head vivid images of the action. He also did his own research by travelling to the places where Christopher McCandless went. He also met the real characters involved in the Christopher’s life such as his real parents and sister and also the people he met during his adventures in the wild. All these discussions with those people helped him shape the story better. To share this true life story with the audience, Sean Penn filmed the real surroundings where Christopher McCandless adventured but also reconstructed the bus that he actually lived in in the wilderness. Sean likes to tell this young man’s story but cutting and separating different key moments of the main character’s life such as : his first hunt, his first encounters with a couple living on the road, his parents’ big fight that scared his little sister… Sean liked to mixed those moments not in a chronological manner but went back and forth with the story telling for the audience to picture Christopher’s present situation in the movie and also understand his past that would explain his present situation. In his interview Sean Penn believed that the surroundings themselves that he chose to film would truly communicate the true life story of Christopher McCandless to the audience. My second case study is a documentary called “Project Wild Thing” directed by David Bond. David is concerned about his kids watching too much television and not spending enough time outdoors. He decides to name himself the “Marketing Director of Nature” and gives himself 2 months to launch a campaign for Nature. He wants to sell Nature as a Brand for people, especially kids. His goal is to bring kids back to Nature. The documentary shows the audience the process by which David goes through to make his plans a reality. He shares with the public his success, struggles and failures as a Marketing Director of Nature. I chose this documentary because I was interests in knowing how David Bond would do to bring Nature back to kids when kids nowadays spend most of their time playing on ipads and watching television. What I’ve liked about the documentary is that David engages with the audience by talking to the camera directly and sharing his thoughts at all times. And he is not afraid to show the struggles of reality as he is trying to advertise Nature to people. David argues how in his days as a kid he would spend so much time outdoors and thought that maybe the taste’s of kids today had changed but, during his research, by talking to different people, he soon realises that it was actually the parents who were spreading their fear of the outdoors onto their children. Throughout his launch for his campaign for Nature, David talks to different experts around the subject of Nature. The audience sees him talking to a brain scientist, a writer and environmentalist, a brand sale expert and advisor, a psychologist, psych biologist and neurologist, also a seasoned environmental campaigner… As David learns from all these people, the audience also gets educated from his discussions. The documentary informs the audience on the importance of Nature in the lives of human beings and the role that Nature plays in the well-being of human beings. According to a large number of studies a patient in a hospital would recovers more quickly and need less medication if that patient has a view of a natural habitat. Also students who have a view on a natural environment score better in tests. It is said in the documentary that the lack of natural environments in the lives of kids will and do affect the well-being of an individual. All these information are given to the audience in illustration. David Bond chose to mixed live action with animation in his documentary, which I found to be given some charm to the film. As more people get involve in his campaign, a lot of interesting and innovative ideas come about and David is pleased. This film shows also the advantage and importance of working in a large group. For his film and campaign, David was quickly supported by the “National Trust”. David really wanted with this documentary not only to raise awareness but also motivate people to do something about this issue. So he made this documentary with one though in mind: advertise Nature to the public. To reach the audience David wasn’t shy in sharing his own situation at home with his wife and children.

I’ve chosen to make a short clip that would represent my own way of approaching Nature and show it to the public. In both case studies that I’ve analyse the director had tried to represent Nature at its best. In the movie “Into The Wild” Sean Penn used real images of natural environments in America. In the documentary “Project Wild Thing”, David concentrated more on the activities you can do to have fun in Nature. I choose to advertise Nature as an unknown and secret place. Here in the link to my short clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbNqKWWuCkE&feature=youtu.be

In both case studies the film reflects on two main subject that refers to my research: one subject is about the importance of Nature in the lives of human beings and the second subject is about the importance of a connection, a relationship between human beings. Both case studies approached the subjects differently. In the movie “Into The Wild”, Sean Penn represented Nature as a wild and uncontrollable place but also as a spiritual and fulfilling place. He chose to use real natural environments for his movie. At the beginning of the movie, when the main character Christopher McCandless arrives in the deserted Alaskan wilderness, the audience witnesses his joy for freedom and his wonder over the beautiful sites. He enjoys depending on his physical strengths to survive. He feels free, courageous and strong. The character tells the audience about the importance of testing your physical strength once in while against natural forces, he believed it to be reassuring and necessary. The audience could see Christopher connecting with nature and having a spiritual awakening. But at the end of the movie the same place that brought him all these amazing experiences also brought him pain and loneliness. When the same land that he fed on for several months had suddenly nothing to give to eat to Christopher, he had to collect wild berries to survive against starvation. Unfortunately he accidently confuses two types of wild berries and end up eating a deadly type, which leads him to his death. When he realises that he could no longer leave this land, he felt the loneliness and realised that “true happiness was best lived shared”. The same parents that he ran away from was now in his mind before he died, he imagined running into their arms with a smile. All this made me think that maybe Christopher needed to do this escape but he was running away from his problem with his parents. What I find interesting in that movie is actually the ending, because it resumed the research I’ve done on human beings experiencing true happiness, following Maslow’s theories on true happiness and the hierarchy of human needs. With the example of the character Christopher McCandless, who was lacking communication with his parents and ended up hating them because of the misery and the resentment that existed between the two parents, he decides to leave everything behind in the search for freedom and fulfilment. Nature did bring him some kind of fulfilment but not everything he needed. There was still this empty space for “love and belonging” which is one of the human needs that was argued to be very important in the pursuit of true happiness. He felt trapped in the society where he was forced to put up with his parents that would fight all the time, which would affect his happiness in result. He felt he needed to escape. So he did. He escaped from everything and everyone, which satisfied him at first, but even on his escape, he did meet a couple of people with whom he would get along with. But he would still want to go back on his own. His tragic and unexpected sorrow at the end brought him to clarity that he did need to have relationship with people in order to survive. If Christopher would have chosen to come clean in front of his parents and talked wit them about his issues with this marriage, I don’t think he would have had to escape to the wilderness so badly. But he did see the advantages of doing so and the movie shows some of them. For example, when Christopher has been living off the land for a few weeks, hunting down squirrels and other wild animals, we see him eating an apple with degustation. He enjoyed it with a lot more gratitude than a normal person would do, which showed the value of tasty organic foods that nature gives us. Also like I mentioned earlier, the advantages of challenging yourself against nature, argued by Christopher to be a necessary activity for your mental and physical health. Whereas, in the documentary “ Project Wild Thing”, David Bond represents Nature as a fun and exiting place for children. When he talks about Nature he refers to the forests and the parks that you can find near your house. He refers to Nature as a fun distraction from school and other activities. It’s not about going off and living in the wild but about re-organising your life around Nature. When he tries to advertise Nature to teenagers, they are quite sceptical about it. They raised problems such as not having really nice nature around them in London. And if they did have to choose between going outside and staying at home, they would prefer staying at home. David understood that Nature wasn’t popular between youngsters. But when he brought those same teenagers outside to the closest grass area, he could notice their face lighting up and they quickly felt comfortable outside and found things to do. He was now reassured that Nature could be really enjoyed. He just had to give them something that would make them want to go outside. By working with a bigger group of people during his campaign for Nature, interesting ideas came about to attract the kids to Nature such as a list of games that they could play in a forest or on the grass, also a list of challenges they could do such as kissing a frog or hold a worm in their hand… In his documentary, David thought about using Nature in a fun and interactive way. Not only that but he also got information from experts about the importance of Nature in the lives of kids. He argued that there was no evidence that technology was bad for children but that the lack of Nature around them would affect their mental health. David says: “We think we’ve outgrown nature. But playing god doesn’t make us happy, it just fuels our competitive urges.” David sees that technology is all around us and has a big place in marketing. He wishes he could market Nature just the same. What is interesting to me is that the documentary shows the progress of his campaign launch for Nature and his struggles. He comes with a lot of ideas that after speaking with a professional are left behind. He learns from a lot people and you can see that he couldn’t make it on his own. He needed the help of a lot of people. At the end of the documentary, David realises that while being so focused on his project to bring kids back to Nature he forgets about his own kids and feels bad about it, he even conclude the documentary by saying that the most important thing is to be with your kids and see them grow up, which intrigued me because it seemed that at the end he stopped the progress of his project. Nonetheless David does value the importance of team work and his relationship with his wife and children. In the process of making people aware of this deficit in Nature in the children’s life, the documentary also ends up sending also a second message that is to value the importance of building relationships and spending time with the family. Therefore both case studies shows their own representation of Nature, and shows the importance of human connection. In my experiment I chose to represent Nature in a different way. I chose to represent in the eyes of someone who hasn’t really lived in Nature: Nature as a hallucination and a mystical place and unknown territory.


David Bond (2013), Project Wild Thing.

Sean Penn (2008), Into The Wild.


A. H. Maslow, A Theory Of Human Motivation, 1943.


Lterature review (Anthony Crockett)

Review on The Singularity is Far.


In an article called The Singularity is Far David J. Linden talks about Ray Kurzweil theory about the future and his 2020 invention of nanobots and the abilities its hold. David talked about his thoughts on the Nanobots and put arguments against Ray Kurzweil theory.


David writes about Ray Kurzweil future invention, Nanobots the he read in Kurzweil’s book (The Singularity is Near) and magazines that Ray was interview by. David Quote from a magazine where ray talk about the future nanobots and its explain how the micro robots can power there way through the brains capillaries and able to fully transport our brains to a virtual world by shutting down “ the signals coming from your real senses and replace them with the signals that your brain would be receiving if you were actually in the virtual environment.”


David is very much for Kurzweil’s nanobots in the future but strongly disagree with the timetable for his theory of it. He analyzed Kurzweil’s books and note down a few arguments that contradict and stop himself being full believer.

Ray Kurzweil predicts the nanobots will arrive between 2020s to 2030s, that we are fast approaching, Kurzweil believe this because the rate we are learning about the human brain. “If we keep acuminating data about the brain at an exponential rate, then the long standing mysteries of development, consciousness, perception, decision, and action will necessarily be revealed”.


David believe that Kurzweil is confusing biological data with biological insight. Just because we will have more data about ours brains doesn’t mean that we will understand how are brains work. And David is saying that it will take more time to understand the information we will conceive. David is right about it will take time to crack the code of information so we can fully understand but it seem that he think it will take a serious about of time to gain the knowledge of the brain which I don’t quite believe. He gives example to back up his arguments by using the example of learning that gene duplication is more common that scientist originally thought. We learn that humans have fewer genes and though genes have more complex modes of regulation and more splice-forms.


I believe that David is using the measurement on how people understand information in the past and only looking within his specialties of neuroscience, only looking at one tree instead of the whole forest. In the past there only group of humans putting there minds together to figure out how humans and nature works. Humans was able to create machines that are able to do the same jobs as humans and it was long machines could do those jobs better than humans. We are at a stage where Humans and machines/ robots are working together to cracks tones of information. As well as humans rate of knowledge increase so does the smartness of machines. The speed of computer human intelligent is fast increasing at a scary rate some people would say and it is possible that machines and humans could have the knowledge in time for Ray Kurzweil to keep to his timetables for his futuristic nanobots.

Review on

Designer Babies: Fact and Ethical issues of designer babies


Joey talks about the good and down side of PGD, Pre- implantation Genetic Diagnoses, saying it is use now to treat genetic disease getting assed down to children. Which is a good action, however in the future this technology will develop and will be able to genetically cosmetic babies to select what color their eyes or hair will be. And most people will see it not using the technology what it is intend for, that is tread diseases. On the other hand people will see it as a disease to their faith or culture like how some people see homosexuality as a disease and will try to use PGD to get rid of it.


I feel that will be a failure using the tech to get rid of gay action out of someone. I believe being a homosexual has nothing to do with your genetic makeup of you. Joey say people will want to undergo PGD for every reason that they feel is negative and a disease in their mind. Creating a difficulty to draw a line between preventing diseases and enhancing. He states that it should be banned to avoid complicated grey areas.


Joey Continue to list paragraphs of negative issues about PGD. He goes throw the problems of discrimination of wealth and look since this treatment is highly expensive, the people who will be genetically design will look down on those who are not in their class as them with looks intelligent and wealth. We still have this problem in today society and this will increase ten fold and it look like we are going backwards in society.


He made a valid point and I believe it would be the other way round. The people who are born with natural genetics will look at them someone who is fake. In any case this will create a divide instead of becoming a whole.


He talks on the unbalance of gender in the future and use the example of china and they believe boys are better choice than girls. Boys are stronger, smarter and are more suitable to earn a living while girls are good for household jobs. Joey believe that the majority of the world will choose male babies and this will lead to sexual discrimination and the imbalance of sex will make it hard to reproduce with very few woman to choose from.


Joey is right to mention this point but I feel he is lacking faith in humanity and how they think. In the past, people thought in that way, that male are more ferreter to women and then there was a massive revolution of women standing up for themselves and demanding more rights to be more equal to men. Society doesn’t tend to go backwards. They move forward. Forward to a better place to live. It’s a gamble to trust society with that power of choice and the price is many people lifestyle and the future of human existence on earth.


Do we have the capability of making those choices, playing God in other words. Joey talks on religion saying children are gift from and we should be happy how are children look like and not be ungrateful on what our babies’ cosmetics.


In Joey’s essay it very clear that he is against the treatment of PGD as he his paragraph on negative points about PGD and only put forth one positive statement on PGD and that is to stop life threatening disease being passed down to babies. I am partly against the treatment but don’t think it all gloom and doom Joey makes out to be. I have faith in humanity that they will think carefully about this choice and not be mindless about it.



Review on

The fear of Death and the Longing for immortality: Hobbes and Thucydides on Human Nature and the problems of Anarchy


Peter J. Ahrensdorf analyze two people theory about the psychological side of fearing death and longing for immortality, Hobbes and Thucydides, and compare there thoughts. Both theorist has similar views since Hobbes inspired by Thucydides but Thucydides does not share Hobbes thoughts on fear of violence can lead humans to master their destabilizing hopes. Thucydides put forth that its people hopes, like in immortality, seem to over power humans’ fears. People hope are invincible and Hobbes believe that hope can be control by fear.


Peter Turns to Hobbes’s account of human nature saying what distinguishes humans to other animals is the foresight of death looming closer to is which make us have anxiety about it. This causes us to us to seek to avoid it and also find a way to secure our self from the evil we fear. However you could look at this and say it’s the hope in humans to keep on fighting and looking for better solution on surviving what there is to come. A man without hopes is a man is as good as dead. It’s the hope what keep a person to carry on living and standing up for what he or she believes in. Peter goes in-depth books on what Hobbes say and believe on the subject going through different areas on the subject which gives me a very deep understanding on what Hobbes believe and how he thinks using huge chuck of quotes for Hobbes in books he has written. After he write a page or two on Hobbes belief, he start to question those belief of Hobbes. And question Hobbes student for following Hobbes.


He moves on to Thucydides’ theory and again goes in-depth with pages on what Thucydides believes. However he doesn’t question his theory like he did with Hobbes. That gives me the impression that he siding on Thucydides’ thoughts.





David J. Linden

July 21 2011

The Singularity is Far: a Neuroscientist’s View




June 10 2009

Facts and Ethical Issues of designer babies



Peter J. Ahrensdorf

The Fear of Death and longing for Immortality: Hobbes and Thucydides on humans nature and the problem of Anarchy

Published By American Political Science Association


Gwyneth Dickey

DNA on the move: Nanobots Spiders learn how to walk

Published by Society for Science and public

This is an article on the progress of nanobots and what the will be able to do in the future. Being tested out in a Laboratory in New York. I am looking at how human will be able to live near enough for ever and nanobots are one of the most popular solution on achieving that. It is vital I know as much as I can about Nanobots.



Nick Bostrom

Are w living in a computer simulation?

Published by Wiley for Philosophical Quarterly

            The introduction of this article talks about computers simulation, the same abilities that nanobots will allow us to do to our brains. It will be interesting what his argument on computer stimulation and I could possibly compare it to the nanobots research I will gather.


Michael R. Rose and Lawrence D. Mueller

Ageing And Immortality

Published by The Royal Society

            I’m choosing this journal because it is talking about the concept of force of nature selection and how it was use to explain the evolution of ageing. The period after ageing comes mortality rate plateau and some organisms that would live forever. They will be testing two theories, heterogeneity and the second is late life plateaus in mortality.


Donna L. Dickenson

Are Medical Ethicist out Of Touch? Practitioner Attitudes in the US and UK towards Decision at The End of Life

Published By BMJ publishing group


Charles W. Fowler and Larry Hobbes

Is Humanity Sustainable?

Published by The Royal Society