Captain Fantastic: All Aboard the Fantasy Train

Colorless green ideas sleep furiously

-Noam Chomsky

Sometimes – okay, more than sometimes – I feel myself wanting to pull away from modern society. Or more specifically, capitalist, consumer, money – driven society. I find myself considering switching out my iPhone to a standard flip phone, trying to completely unplug myself, avoiding shopping of any sort, pining for a weekend trip to the woods or just stay home and drown myself in a sea of books. I fantasize about moving with some of my more adventurous friends to a mountainside and creating a perfect little community where we share everything – money, resources, child care, food. And then reality hits painfully, when I realize despite these imaginings, I am just as entrenched as everyone else. Thinking is not the same thing as doing. And I am just as much as a cog in the wheel as a politician, or an ignorant bystander. Captain Fantastic was a nice little getaway, despite dealing with some heavy issues – specifically grief, and the incredible responsible weight of parenting. Viggo Mortenson places a father who with his wife, brings their six children to a secluded forest in the Pacific Northwest to try to escape the trappings of modern Western society. The cinematography and costume design brings a rich colorful palate of primary colors – complimenting the forest then later juxtaposition against the New Mexico desert and bland background of strip malls and track housing of modern life. In the forest, the children tare trained to be survivalists, train their bodies to be athletic and train their minds to be ravenous of knowledge and skeptical of everything – especially modern capitalist society. When the father is left to care for his children alone he turns up the volume, increasing the training, and truly immerses the family in his vision. When the family needs to travel back to civilization, the children are in awe of many things. “What is wrong with everyone? Are they sick? Why is everyone so fat?” the children wonder aloud. They ogle at video games, TV, grocery stores, diner food and see first hand how their cousins live their “normal lives”. The children know everything – but nothing. Which I believe is the message of this film. Don’t we all feel like this? We think we know so much until we experience a new truth, a new perspective, a new environment. And we realize with maturity comes the grace to acknowledge what we don’t know. Which is exponentially more than what we do. The father is forced to accept the fact that his vision of how he wants to raise his children might not be the best way. But indeed the other extreme isn’t the best either. He is forced to accept the Middle Way – a fantastic message with heart and hope for those of us who are just a cog in a wheel. I heartily recommend.


2 thoughts on “Captain Fantastic: All Aboard the Fantasy Train

  1. I liked how you talked about coping with grief and the way we’re all just cogs in a wheel. It does feel like that sometimes, and Capt Fantastic is such a great reminder that we can live outside the wheel and be okay 🙂 Nice thoughts!


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