Captain Fantastic (2016)

Some ideas are right even when they’re wrong, that seems to be the leiv motiv behind Captain Fantastic, a film that states a powerful idea, that the things we consider normal or necessary are often not what they seem to be and that the real value comes from results, specially in regards of what it means to be a human being, body and mind together, empowered by preparation and with the bravery to face any obstacle in the way to a goal, freedom of being. How drastically conditions change when a human being faces reality with only a few tools, a lot of knowledge and a courageous heart? Watch this movie and find out!

Reality, that’s what Captain Fantastic is all about. A picture of a world where real knowledge delivers on its self fulfilled promise of enlightenment, to know something to be true but also to rejoice on the support of thinkers alike, specially when it comes to family.

So, what’s this story about? Well, it’s about this family, right? a bunch of kids living with their father in the middle of the forest. They hunt, they climb, they play music and they study under a strict routine stablished by the head of the tribe, Ben. Yet, this seemingly idyllic situation starts crumbling when we find out the mother of the bunch dies after struggling for a long time with a severe mental illness. The group makes the decision to attend her funeral, even risking a possible separation due to the possibility of the father being arrested because of the peculiar life style he has chosen for his children, but also because of the antagonist of the story, the mother’s father, who blames Ben for her suffering and death. So, the bunch travels to the funeral and also experiences a much needed interaction with what is often called “the real world” which is nothing more than society or “city style living”.

What’s interesting here is that, from the family’s perspective, it’s this other way of living, the real world living, that seems like sick or making people sick. They watch this first when having to attend to a bank, where they meet a bunch of overweight people in the waiting line. Then, we see a teenager smoking a cigarette while the older son of Ben practices his exercises. Then it’s the mother’s sister’s kids who can only play videogames and seem not to know anything about the constitution, while Ben’s eight year old daughter can recite the entire thing by memory. It may seem like a stretch at this point, but you know what? this is actually truth. I mean, we’re not gonna argue about the quality of school education at this point, most of them are garbage. Also, society doesn’t exactly encourage anyone to study or to have a healthy lifestyle, on the contrary!!

Thing is, the movie sells you so well the idea that Ben’s way of teaching is the best approach to parenthood that when the whole thing collapses it kinda breaks your spirit. Only then we understand the real value of society, because let’s face it, even with all the toxic stuff that it produces, society also has a lot of good things going on for us, the users. The first thing to understand here is that deep inside, Ben is a selfish person. In here we must remember that initial idea, “some ideas are right even when they’re wrong”, because Ben might be right in the sense that his method brings results, but even then his family can’t be prisoner of his desires. Truth is, they want to be a part of society, they want to experience this other and new world, to know new people and test themselves. Truth be told, it’s kinda time for Ben to let go of their children and the way it happens is by means of a person just like him, a father, his wife’s father. You see? how cool is that! the antagonistic force of the movie is a person with completely different ideology from Ben, but pursuing the same goal, to protect his family.

Near the end comes the best part, so Jack (wife’s father) stops Ben by not listening to him and not giving up on his own viewpoint, using society itself (in the form of police enforcement) to persuade him from taking one of his sons away from their grandparents. This happens because this particular son doesn’t want to be with Ben, accusing him of seemingly killing their mother by refusing to leave the forest they live in. Ben accepts and leaves, yet he doesn’t back away from the fact that he’s correct in his decisions, making one of his daughters go after this rebel son, to liberate him from the grandparents house. The result? this daughter takes a fall from the roof and seriously injures herself. Coping with the consequences of his decisions, Ben learns that his wife had actually decided to stay with him, giving him the right about the whole living in the woods thing. Yet, Ben leaves without his family, understanding that he can’t force anyone to live the way he think is better.

Yet, the kids follow him.

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