Captain Fantastic: What Do You Know About Parenting Properly?
The film “Captain Fantastic” was released on the wide screen not so long ago (in 2016), but it has practically become a classic of the corresponding genre. In this picture, everything is balanced and everything is beautiful in its own way, including the active involvement of the audience in the process of watching it.
As the director of the film, Matt Ross, who, by the way, shot it according to his own script, noted that in the modern box office, too many films openly tell us what to think and what to feel. Captain Fantastic was supposed to be different – it was supposed to be a motion picture, forcing viewers to think, evaluate, analyze, correlate what is happening on the screen with their system of values, reflect and, in the end, interpret the original idea of the project in their own way.
Both Matt Ross and Viggo Mortensen, who played the main role in the film, declare that there are no heroes and antiheroes in the film, there is no sad end and no happy ending, there is no distinction between right and wrong lines of behavior. This is a story, and an interesting story, which is designed to make you think, and not put a template in your head.
Is Ben Cash a good father?
Of course, the central character, whose behavior we are invited to evaluate in the first place, here is the father of the family, Ben Cash. He is left alone with six children in the wild, and he continues to raise them without any fear or hesitation, although his wife, who suffered from bipolar disorder, recently committed suicide.
So what good does Ben’s upbringing give all of his children? Quite a lot if you think about it. All of them, from adolescents to toddlers, are well educated and comprehensively developed. These children will easily understand mathematics and physics, deeply feel the meaning of any book they read, and will explain various aspects of public law with understanding. They are intellectually and spiritually developed to the point that not every urban child of their age is developed.
Another positive point is psychological literacy and emotional openness of the children. They discuss any topics without any problems and internal barriers, they do not have any phobias and complexes, they know how to understand their emotions and live a conscious life.
Moreover, they are self-sufficient and free. Yes, parental ideology has some power over them, but in fact they are strong enough in spirit to choose their path, their ideals and their values. So far, they are children, and they themselves do not always know what they want, but in the future, purposeful and strong adults will grow out of them.
And, of course, one cannot fail to note the trusting relationship established between the children and their father. This is a hell of a lot lacking in many modern families: children simply cannot come up and talk to mom or dad about what really excites them. By the way, Viggo Mortensen himself, in communication with his only (albeit, already grown up) son, also always tries to adhere to the same position: to allow discussion of everything that is possible, even if something may seem shameful or shy. After all, who, if not parents, should help children deal with the most difficult issues for them?
Or is Ben Cash a bad father?
As already mentioned, there are no heroes in this story, and therefore there are plenty of shortcomings in the manner of raising Ben’s children. For example, these include the extremely low level of social adaptation of children and their almost complete lack of ability to communicate with people of any age who are not family members. That there is only one marriage proposal made by Bodevan to a casual acquaintance.
The second drawback is, in principle, low adaptability to life in urban conditions. Of course, it’s great to be able to hunt, build a shelter from scrap materials, do farming and mountaineering, but in real life you need other skills – for example, trivial things like going to supermarkets or something really important like going to university.
Of course, it is worth noting the guys’ excessive openness. It is very good when you can talk with loved ones about everything. It is very good when you are aware of your emotions and understand your feelings, when you have your own opinion and your own view of things. But all this needs to be able to restrain, to give out dosed and accurately, to recognize situations in which it is worth refraining from straightforwardness. The Cash family, on the other hand, cuts the “truth-womb” to the right and to the left, absolutely in any cases and absolutely not caring how other people will perceive it.
Leslie’s parents as representatives of the other side of the world
A key cultural clash in Captain Fantastic arises from the interaction between Ben Cash and his late wife’s parents, who live in a normal house, drive normal cars, and go to church instead of honoring Noam Chomsky. They want to bury Leslie instead of cremating and take the kids for themselves instead of letting Ben continue to raise them his own way.
Obviously, their approach also carries both pros and cons, and they will be almost diametrically opposed to the merits and demerits of the ideology of the character of Viggo Mortensen. Yes, they will teach children to live in the modern world and help them successfully integrate into social relations. But they will crush any germs of individuality and uniqueness of each of these six guys, if they do not comply with generally accepted norms.
In a word, these two opposing sides here personify two extremes, two poles, each of which can be characterized by the capacious phrase “not an option”. They pull the blanket in different directions, claiming that each of them knows better how to cover the children with this blanket, but as a result, each child’s leg remains in the cold, or the hand threatens to fall victim to the bedside monster.
Compromise is the only way out
In such films, it is always clear: the only semblance of a happy ending can be a compromise, no matter how impressed us the characters of one side or the other. And, of course, in such a well-thought-out film, over the script of which Matt Ross worked for months and in which he tried to put all his heart and soul, just such a decision should be the final.
Children will miss life in isolation from civilization? Yes, for sure. Children will receive less of something related to trouble-free integration into society, due to the fact that they will live with their father and not grandparents? Yes, it is likely. But nevertheless, these losses will turn out to be much more scanty, insignificant, not having a dramatic effect on their fate, than if they were at one of the “poles”, under the dominant influence of one of the two extremes.
It doesn’t matter whether you are offended by your parents for something, whether you have your own children, or whether you are planning to have them in the near future – Captain Fantastic will make you think about a lot and teach you that not everything and not always should rigidly obey your beliefs and views. That sometimes you have to be ready to step on the throat of your own song if you really want the best for both other people and yourself.