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Thoughts on the film Captain Fantastic

Imagine you get completely isolated from the concrete jungle and you are brought up in an actual jungle, an environment completely disconnected with the modern technologies and the society; self schooled by your parent by reading lots and lots of books to gain stupendous amount of knowledge, practicing music, surviving in a forest with just a knife, having the "real" food and sleeping under the stars. This is how Ben Cash, parented his six kids in a completely unique manner than the rest of the world did. And, that is what the movie is about…

A still from the movie Ben's kids. Source: Google

Today, the boy is dead. And in his place, is a man.

The film starts with the above lines, when Bodevan, the eldest among all the kids, gets rewarded by his father Ben, for successfully hunting and killing a deer. Meet the Cash family! Father Ben and six children. Three boys — Bodevan, Nai and Rellian. Three girls — Zaja, Kielyr and Vespyr. Ben’s wife Leslie and Ben decide to move away from the city to a place deep inside the lush green woods. A place to stay in the middle of the forest. Unfortunately, due to Leslie’s illness, she is sent back to her parent’s home to reward herself a proper treatment.

Father Ben brought up his kids in a way, where they don’t have any TV, telephone, internet or any other possible technological gadgets. They wake up in the morning amidst the lush green forest, go for a run, meditate, practice yoga, study Quantum Physics, Renaissance literature and Political theories, they also light up a campfire in the night and sing songs around the campfire and then finally crash outside watching the stars. All these surrounded by the nature, the gigantic mountains, the lush green trees and a few scintillating water streams. The kids hunt animals for food, grow their own vegetables, cook themselves and consume food by sharing as a family. They also learn survivals skills in a jungle, some kind of a sword fight with knives(I’d call it knife fight), rock climbing etc. All under the guidance of Father Ben Cash.

But just as when things go fine, boom, the worst news possible arrives. Leslie is dead! Leslie kills herself since she could not stand her bi-polar disorder. And that’s where the movie starts.

--SPOILERS AHEAD--

So, Ben and his kids, decide to attend Leslie’s funeral. Ben learns through a letter, that Leslie wanted her body to be cremated rather than a standard burial. Leslie’s dad, Jack, completely opposes the idea of cremation and warns Ben that he would get arrested by the cops if he attends his wife’s funeral. Initially, Ben decides not to attend the funeral, but later changes his mind to attend the funeral along with his 6 kids, leading his children to a road trip outside the wilderness. They’ve got a mission, to avoid the standard burial and to cremate Leslie’s body.

Bus

Ben and his family briefly stay at his sister Harper’s house. Harper stresses that Ben’s kids should receive a proper schooling education like others and mentions that he’s raising up his kids in a wrong way. Ben proves them wrong by asking a few questions to Harper’s kids and his kid, Zaja; the latter answers them all in a practical manner than Harper’s kids. In the meanwhile, Bodevan starts doubting his father’s way of parenting, assuming that they haven’t got much exposure to the “real” world and it might be hard to survive in the “real” world. Rellian, on the other hand, thinks that Ben might be the sole reason for his mother’s death. On hearing all these, Ben could not take much and starts doubting his own parenting skills, he decides to leave the kids to stay with their grandparents and move on. But the kids, who were accustomed to the nature’s lifestyle of living, felt that staying at their grandparent’s house was completely unrealistic. They sneak into the bus and accompany their father to complete the mission of cremating their mother’s body while singing songs and flushing her ashes in the nearest toilet, as per her wish. And oh, did I mention the funeral song is none other than the Guns N’ Roses Sweet Child o’ Mine, and by far the best cover of the song that I’ve ever come across.

Few thoughts on the film (from my very own perspective)

“We have to do what we’re told. Some fights, you can’t win. The powerful control the lives of the powerless. That’s the way the world works. It’s unjust and it’s unfair. But that’s just too damn bad. We have to shut up and accept it.”

Always be truthful(Honesty): Ben encourages his kids to be truthful all the time, he doesn’t lie to his kids, neither does he encourages his kids to do so. This film taught me to be honest, no matter how harsh the truth is.

Understand rather than mugging up: Be it any topic, most of the time people tend to mug up score marks in exams, but the real winner is one who understands the topic. Ben encourages his kids to ask more questions, and understand every possible topic.

"He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever."

Be prepared to face any situation: Anything can happen in a jungle, Ben prepares his kids to face any situation. Mostly importantly, he preps on their survival skills.

Eating healthy and being fit: Ben encourages his kids to hunt wild animals, grow their own farm vegetables for consumption, he calls it the real food. Ben strongly turns down junk food as he refers to Cola as "poison water" in one of the scenes. He encourages his kids to run early in the morning and to stay fit.

"What's a Cola? Poison water."

Read Books: Ben encourages his kids to read lots and lots of books, because that’s where the real knowledge comes from.

"A mind needs books, like a sword needs a whetstone."

Be Yourself: At the end of the day, it is only you. In one of the rock climbing scene, Rellian hurts himself in the middle of the climb. Ben, at that moment says,

"There’s no cavalry. No one will magically appear and save you in the end."

Spend time with the nature: Spend your time with the nature everyday, it gives utmost joy; because it is from the nature, we all came from. :)

Respect your parents: Because they try to give you the best always. Ben’s emotions captured in the film are really touching. And the advices that he gives to his kids are priceless. One from the film,

"When you have sex with a woman, be gentle and listen to her. Treat her with respect and dignity even if you don’t love her. Always tell the truth. Always take the high road. Live each day like it could be your last. Drink it in. Be adventurous, be bold, but savor it. It goes fast."

Respect people who strive for goodness: In one of the scenes they celebrate Noam Chomsky’s birthday. On questioning the reason and being asked the reason of why they can’t celebrate Christmas, Ben replies,

"You would prefer to celebrate a magical fictitious elf, instead of a living humanitarian who's done so much to promote human rights and understanding?"

Achieve your goal: If you have a mission, don’t slack off until you finish it. If you fail, repeat it until you complete the mission.

Matt Ross’s brilliant direction and his perspective of raising children in a different way needs a big clap. So, what makes the movie special? I’d say its powerful story, fascinating screenplay, thought-provoking dialogues and the performances of each and every actor on the screen made this film, a perfect treat for my eyes. This film, reminded me of The Kings of Summer, Little Miss Sunshine and Into the wild. Overall, Captain Fantastic is a fantastic film which I’d like to watch over and over again to make myself better and to be a better person living in this society. Not to forget one of the best quotes of the film.

"If you assume that there is no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, then there is a possibility that you can contribute to making a better world." — Noam Chomsky