Captain Fantastic

Image: Electric City Entertainment

What is the best way to raise a family? It’s a question that has been asked countless times throughout human existence; and the answers and opinions continue to change.

Ben (Viggo Mortensen) has a path that he believes will be the best for his children. Living in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, the six siblings Bo, Kielyr, Vespyr, Rellian, Zaja, and Nai live by a strict regime to ensure their peak physical fitness and an incredibly high level of knowledge. If there is a book written on a subject, chances are at least one of Ben’s children have studied it at one stage in their lives.

Being so far removed from the outside world does have its downfalls. Lack of advanced medical facilities for example. The family’s mother has been in hospital for a while now and, when she passes away, it throws the children through a loop. They have to leave their small section of paradise to travel to their mother’s funeral, and on the way, they find out just how little they knew of the world. It’s not only the children who are affected. Ben himself has to see other people’s ways of life for the first time in a long time. The comparisons between how different people live their lives and raise their families are stark.

A particular point that stuck out to myself was the question of how much information a child actually needs. Consistently throughout the film, we see Ben answer any query his children have openly and without censorship. When put directly alongside another family who answer their children with part truths to protect their innocence a while longer, it paints a thought provoking image.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember while watching this film is to keep an open mind. There are so many differing opinions and points of view that it can be easy to miss the bigger picture if you don’t actively remember to look for it.

What is the point of philosophy and knowledge without the intricacies of the human race to apply them to?

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