Whenever I used to read about Robinson Crusoe and his long and adventurous stay in an island for close to 28 years, it used to fill me with wonder. Imagine living away from civilization, technology and people for close to 3 decades! Well, on one side, it’s quite scary but on another side, if one has the guts and a strong attitude, then the experience is nothing less than phenomenal. While scavenging through some popular films linked to the above topic, I came across a very different and mind-boggling film- Captain Fantastic.
Though the movie released way back in 2016, the idea of living in sync with nature that was depicted in the film is still fresh as ever. The film’s protagonist Ben Cash and his wife Leslie upon marriage decide to shed the Capitalist and Consumerist lifestyle of America and retreat to the Washington wilderness where they lovingly bring up their six kids. Ben and Leslie believe in home-schooling their children. Despite being away from technology, cars, burgers and Pepsi, the kids develop into geniuses in their own respective fields. Apart from having developed high academic potential, the kids also develop into strong athletes. The cinematography of the film beautifully captures the emotional as well as the spiritual quotient of humans synchronizing with nature. Sadly, Leslie departs from the wilderness to the city due to frequent episodes of mania and over-enthusiasm which eventually develops into bipolar disorder. But that doesn’t stop Ben and the kids from pursuing their natural lifestyles.
After sometime, when the gang gets to know about Leslie’s sudden demise due to the terminal nature of her illness, they are in a fix. With Leslie’s funeral coming up in a few days, Ben and the kids have heated debates whether or not they should attend the city atmosphere and witness the consumerist lifestyle they had shunned for so long. Though Ben doesn’t wish to confront his in-laws who blame him for Leslie’s demise, the kid’s stubbornness to see their mother for one last time moves him. Finally, they decide to head over to the funeral. What follows is one hilarious moment after another. The childrens’s awkwardness at speaking normally to other kids & the gang’s attempts to steal food from a mall provide for plenty of laughs and deep thoughts.
But when all of them eventually get to their mother’s funeral, Ben’s insistence on honoring his wife’s wish for a cremation interferes with that of his father in-law’s who instead wants that Leslie be buried in the Christian way. Ben has another argument with his kids, particularly his two elder sons, who wish to embrace the consumerist lifestyle seeing that their ‘Hippie’ lifestyle is not going to prepare them for the real world. Through a lot of ups and downs, Ben and the kids eventually reconcile. The film’s climax puts up a stunning revelation which makes me yearn for more.
Though the movie ends on a positive note, it did awaken me to the enormous prospects of what it would mean to live with nature without any aid but my senses and without any sense of time but my shadows. I would recommend that everyone and anyone who loves nature and is in awe with the Almighty’s wondrous ways should give this film a chance. Trust me, it’ll leave you wanting for more by the time you finish it!