Category Archives: Essays

The Will To Live

An Essay Of The Film: Dallas Buyers Club


DBC.ron crying

Many times I have wondered about the “engine of life”, where does the strength come from when everything seems to go the wrong direction? What makes us want to live through the difficulties? I believe that most of us learn to live life as it comes, without questioning it, but sometimes an event might take place and change everything about us or show us features of ourselves that were hidden deep within. This new insight could hold the power for us to change our view about what life is and help us transform it in ways that suits our best self. Dallas Buyers Club by Jean-Marc Vallée (2013) is a film that, in my opinion, reflects on general wonderings about how some of us live without consciousness, just adjusting ourselves to the immediate pleasures and taking life for granted. Then, about the importance of taking decisions when necessary mainly out of a crisis that transforms our perspective and finally, creating a new life consciously. I don’t believe there is a recipe for having an ideal lifestyle, but if this movie should work as an example, it would be of the strength of the “will” and of how far someone can go when one desires to achieve something.

      Ron Woodroof is a cowboy man who enjoys life through the rodeo, sex, drinking and gambling. After an unforeseen accident he is taken to the hospital where is told that he is positive for HIV and that it seems his life has only thirty days left. From that day on he struggles to find ways to survive and to live his life with a certain level of dignity. At first, Ron cares for not much except his sweet rewards of pleasure and about his friends perhaps without thinking that there could be an end to that fun, he is unaware of his own mortal condition and his finite existence. The first sequences show us that Ron likes to have sex with different women at the back of the stables while the rodeo is on show. Afterwards, he goes to the dressing room to gamble with his friends. Life for him seems to be a chain of vices that fills his head with excitement however, when he is back at his apartment, there is no one to receive him or to take care of him when he feels ill. The “call” of something being wrong with him is ignored and only after he goes to the hospital and receives clear and loud the news that his life is to an end, he confronts his own reality, the awareness of his living self. It is at the edge of loosing everything that he realises he does not want to die; the denial of the situation comes to invade his body since he does not want to believe that something outside of himself might end his journey:

Ron: Fuck this, this is shit. Fucking thirty day motherfuckers. Let me give y’all a little newsflash. There ain’t nothing out there that can kill Ron Woodroof in thirty days“.

He was right, nothing outside of himself could end his journey more than what he used to do to himself and still could do. I think that many a times we just do not realise how important is each an every one of our experiences since they may have either positive or negative consequences that later develop by themselves, and just as our actions define us also the decisions we take play an important role in the construction of our journey through life, taking things for granted can lead us to learn in more difficult ways how important we should be to our own eyes, I am not speaking of a pretentious sense of importance though, I am referring to the essential respect and care that we ought to have for our place in this world, taking aside religious or spiritual ideas, but at the most basic fulfilment of our needs and well-being.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Essays, Film, News

Like Mother, Like Daughters

Film’s Essay: August: Osage County



A couple and descendant(s): that is the model of a family. The first is supposed to lead the latter, the latter is supposed to learn the ways of the world from the first. The circle goes round and round forming an invisible spiral that doesn’t show a beginning or an end, although its line has the potential to venture into other directions, even without stopping the nature of growth and expansion of the spiral. For most of us family is the source of education through which each one learns values, moulds its own character and sets a particular perception of life for oneself, among other features. It is an essential education that one carries through one’s whole life if there is nothing to be changed however, amidst the many efforts that parents do for their offspring there is a silent education that passes-on to the learner without intention, through action itself, to become patterns which are invisible to one’s eyes most of the time because they act as a natural response from ourselves disguising as an innate conduct and hiding its real nature of conditional behaviour. Whereas some patterns may be positive for the next generation, others can be utterly destructive, so much that a person could ruin its life without even noticing it.

     In August: Osage County (2013) by John Wells the lines of the spiral are thick and wild for it narrates the dynamics of a familiar system joined up by one dreadful incident that moves the whole family to one place where their deepest problems are exposed crashing against one another. The crisis of each character is depicted in contraposition to the differences of their lives showing that even if they have come to achieve a life path unlike the other, the essence of their conflicts come from the same source. When Beverly, Violet’s alcoholic husband, commits suicide the whole Weston family come to their house in Oklahoma to support her in her grief. However, their daughters arrive to a world where her strong but dysfunctional mother unravels, whilst taking drugs, exposing their differences in lifestyles and revealing secrets that turn out to be the foundations for their deepest problems.

“‘Life is very longT.S. Eliot, not the first person to say it, and certainly not the first person to think it, but hes given credit for because he bothered to write it down. Now, if you say it, you have to say his name after it…‘Life is very longT.S. Eliot, absolutely goddamn right. Violetmy wife, she takes pills, sometimes a great many, facts are my wife takes pills and I drink, thats the bargain weve stuck, a little paragraph in our marriage contract, so rather than once more vow of abstinence with my fingers crossed, Ive chosen to turn my life over to a higher power, enjoy the next of the hiring class

These are the lines that open August: Osage County, mixed with images of the open fields of Oklahoma alluring to great extensions, the open world where perhaps many of these cases exist. Next, the face of Beverly appears on the screen, drinking and talking about his wife to Johana, a Native American woman whom is about to hire. “Life is very long” indeed, if you share T.S. Eliot’s point of view, he was an American writer who emigrated to England where he married an English woman, his relationship was filled with conflict mainly because of her health problems and his instability, some resources say that he thought of himself to be “very dependant upon women”. In his poem The Hollow Men (1925) he expresses that “Life is very long”.

     Beverly is similar to Eliot regarding marriage and his position around women. Just as he presented himself, he is a writer with a drinking problem married to a woman who has mouth cancer and uses her sickness as an excuse to fill her mouth with drug pills. Their marriage is far from being functional, besides their addictions they live in darkness at the house, separated from one another, alone; he is quiet and introverted, whereas Violet is a headstrong, impulsive and irreverent woman therefore, it is easy to understand why in their relationship Violet is the dominant figure. They have three absent daughters and so his family is more like the “female society” upon which T.S. Eliot was said to be dependant. The former explanation of whom is given credit and why, after a phrase or work, talks about the authors in a similar way in which parents are the authors of their children –to a certain extent– for they pass the knowledge to their children, and have the possibility to make the life extension of those teachings “very long”, almost as a tradition, for these pass from generation to generation.

     Barbara, Ivy and Karen are the Weston’s daughters. They come to their parents’ house after their father’s suicide. They arrive to support their mother but end up themselves in a whirlpool of secrets and problems that threaten to destroy their fictitious screens of wellness. The first to arrive is Ivy, she is somehow independent but not completely, she remained close to their parents’ house to take care of them. She is introverted and silent, just like her father, uninterested in vanity and appearances, and had not acknowledged the existence of a boyfriend so far, even more she had health problems that didn’t wish to disclose to her sisters because she didn’t want to give her mother “another excuse to treat me like some damaged thing”. However, her tranquillity and easiness was a screen to disguise the utter frustration of remaining close to their parents giving up her desires and dreams:

Ivy: I cant perpetuate this meets of family or sisterhood anymore, were just people, some of us accidentally connected by genetics, a random selection of cells

Barbara: When did you get so cynical?

Ivy: Thats funny coming from you

Barbara: Well, bitteryes, butrandom selection of cells?

Ivy: Maybe my cynicism came with the realisation that the responsibility of caring for our parents was mine alone.

Karen is the youngest of the three; she lives in Florida and seems to be often unstable in her relationships. She arrives to the funeral with her fiancée whilst Barbara asserts “he must be this year’s man”. Karen behaves as alienated from the family issues and singled-focused in her own life, she rejects the reality around her by expressing her strangely found positiveness, day-dreaming about her future with this new boyfriend and telling stories of how she found her way out of the darkness she was in. Although she can be perceived as banal her weak points show their face for an instant whilst discussing with Barbara:

Karen: I can do without a speech

Barbara: Where is he?

Karen: Out in the car, were leaving back to Florida tonight, now. Me and Steve together, you wanna give me some grief about that?

Barbara: Oh, you wait a goddamn minute.

Karen: And you better find out from Gene exactly what went on before you start pointing fingers, because I doubt Genes blameless in all of this. And Im not saying that I blame her, just because I said she is not blameless it doesnt mean I have blamed her, Im just saying that she might share in the responsibility, its not cutting dry, it lives where everything lives, somewhere in the middle. Where the rest of us live, everyone but you!

Barbara: Karen

Karen: Well, Im not angel myself, Ive done some things Im not proud of, things youll never know about, and I may have to do some things I may not be proud of again, cause life just puts you in a corner that way. Anyway, youve had your own hash to settle before you start making speeches to the rest of us. And come January Ill be in Belize, doesnt that sound nice?

Barbara, the eldest, has a very strong character, just as her mother; she is a straightforward person, dominating and, as she puts it, a little bit bitter. She is the only one that got married and has a daughter however at the moment of his father’s tragedy she was separated from her husband, though he supports her and joins her in the trip. She was very much expected, when she arrived her mother came quickly to the door to receive and hug her. During the whole visit Barbara fought constantly with Violet and tried to “run the house”, but her strength and dominance were only a cover wall for the big issues she had crashed against to within her own family:

Bill: You do not fight fair

Barbara: Seem that gets me. Grow up, while you are dying your hair and going through your fifth puberty the world is falling apart and our kid cant handle it.

Bill: I think shes just trying to deal with this goddamn madhouse youve dragged her into.

Barbara: This madhouse is my home…

Bill: Yeah, think about that statement for a second, while

Barbara: Gene, is here with me because this is a family event

Bill: Gene is here because she is a buffer, between you and the sheen insanity of your mother

Barbara: Youd have a lot more credibility, if you had any credibility. Youre an easy mark

Bill: Youre so goddamn self-righteous, you know that?

Barbara: Surely, you must have realised when you started poking Pippi Longstocking, that you were due for some self-righteousness, just as smidge of indignation on my part

Bill: Maybe I split because of it

Barbara: Oh, is this your confession, then? When you finally unload all, hmm?

Bill: Your thoughtful Barbara but youre not open, youre passionate but youre hard, youre a good, decent, funny, wonderful woman and I love you butyoure a pain in the ass!

Throughout the scene, Barbara and Bill seem like a younger version of Beverly and Violet, even physically and not only that, in several scenes similarities between Violet and Barbara are shown. Whilst each of the daughters has a special feature that reflects Violet’s character it is in Barbara that we find the greatest likeness, from their manner of expression to their reactions in certain situations. The three women have problems with men, just as their mother has, they have strong characters but their way to deal with it took different paths. Whereas Barbara is almost the renewed image of her mother, Ivy went for behaving like her father and Karen tried to do the opposite, presumably although perhaps unconsciously, to break the pattern; one example of the previous is: at the beginning of the film, whilst Beverly is giving the introduction to their new maid, Violet gets up from the bed in the darkness of her room, later when Barbara is about to receive the news about his dad, she does almost exactly the same thing. The latter is the only one who can confront her mother because they share the character and temperament that makes them strong women, but with such characteristics similar problems in their relationships have come along: distance, unhappiness and misunderstandings. By the end Ivy helps Barbara –although without willing to do so– to realise that she has become like her mother:

Barbara: Ivy, listen

Ivy: You will never see me again

Barbara: Matty Fae told me and I didnt know what to do, I was trying to protect you

Ivy: I will go away anyway, Ill still go away

Barbara: This is not my fault, mom told you, it wasnt me it was mom

Ivy: Theres no difference!

Barbara’s behaviour is clearly the result of a pattern that was unacknowledged, it is only when she becomes aware of the similarity that she can take action on it, without awareness it is difficult to change the only sort of education that has accompany us throughout life. Furthermore, this film shows that sometimes it can be difficult to recognise the faults that we’ve made due our education, to have the strength to look at them as something to be changed and actually do it. Several times Violet talks about her childhood and early adulthood, exposing the difficulty of her life, but it is ever so clear the influence of her mother when she tells her daughters about the time when she wanted a pair of cowboy boots to conquer a young man’s heart, but her mother mocked her by giving her a pair of men’s work boots covered in mud and she declares that her mother was a “mean, nasty mean old lady…I suppose that’s where I get it from”. This is the example of an intrinsic silent education one is susceptible to learn, not by will but by way of constant interaction with it.

     Throughout the film these hints about Violet’s difficulties, from family violence to economic problems, do not justify her but make us understand that as she lived her life and learned from her also dysfunctional mother, she became also dysfunctional due the situations she lived and the way she thought she had to respond, and as the cycle went on, her daughters inherited the core of the problems and thus translated it to their ways of life. The rupture of Violet and Barbara’s marriages, and the inability of Ivy and Karen to find a husband can be pointed out to: problems with the masculine figure; related to their women’s perspective and behaviour around men. The siblings learned to be strong and dominating over men through their mother but each of them expressed it or supressed it in their own way.

     Thus, August: Orange County, shows one of many examples of how the dynamics of a family affect all its members, and as generations come and go, those patterns or teachings remain with each one of the members for as long as they allow them to. Our minds have the capacity to learn through actions and repetition, so when parents go through the process of educating, us as children unconsciously absorb that information making it our own, and later in life, react the same way when we face similar problems, even to what is expected of the world and how we attract things to our life. As a result, family can actually knock us down when one is not prepared to deal with one’s history but to remain in the same lines of perspective and input that bring terrible results to the several circumstances of life.

     It is not with an eye of judgement that we can liberate ourselves from the heritage but by way of understanding and objectivity, so we can see the reflection of our own selves in those who raised us and how each of our unconscious actions affect our surroundings, thence one might utterly endeavour to be awake for when something has to be changed. When the patterns are positive, the development of the heirs is just alike, but when the patterns are negative, just as we reviewed in the film, the consequences might be even self-destructive. Only when an individual, as an external observer, becomes aware of the patterns has the possibility to take distance and transform them.


Leave a comment

Filed under Essays, Film, News

A Wrong Model

An Essay Of The Film: Don Jon


Jon and Barbara at the movies

Many are the ideas about romantic love, personal relationships and the ‘perfect couple’, which have been studied through centuries and by different disciplines like literature, painting, music, theatre and now films and television, in each of these there has been at least one artwork by which a special bonding between the receptor and the main figures was formed, determined by the likes, dislikes and perception of life of the audience for it is in these interests that our consciousness lays and wherefrom a connection can be created with the world of fiction that is before one.  In our intimate consciousness, secret and shy, is where we put our hopes, desires and dreams therefore, it is vulnerable to believe stories that reflect that which the hidden desire is looking for. The problem is that when a profound need is linked with a schematic figure, one might ignore the possibilities that a whole life can assume, looking for just one thing.

          Media has created schemes that survive due the needs and desires of the audience, that in some level are a common ground within society however, these schemes have become fantasies covered in the bitter-sweet hope of perfection and denial of our own human essential characteristics.  Sometimes we look for the way to fulfil those schemes outside of our own selves and lives, like in stories and films. Don Jon is a movie that shows how believing blindly in those models can bring us not only disappointment in what we believe but also frustration for the things that we cannot achieve because are essentially a fiction or the confusion of our imagination. When the media and its stories are followed more seriously than they should, the conflict becomes an inner battle between the acceptance and improvement of our own realities and the search for a world setup to ease the mind. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Don Jon, offers the possibility of understanding this statement through the features of Jon, his life routine, the depiction of who he imagined it would be the perfect girl for him, their schemes, how they affected their relationship and the amazing surprise of the behaviour and attraction of the common self.

          Don Jon is the story of a young porn addict who tries to let himself loose through his sexual fantasies and his ideas about women, after falling in love with Barbara, who represents externally the perfect woman according to his standards, he realises that in order to achieve his main desire he has to trust in someone on the outside of his ideals and beliefs. The movie opens with an intro that shows a cartoon of a very sensual female cat and a little squirrel losing his eyes over her –we may as well say this is Jon depicted as an unreal character going after another unreal character–, then runs a sequence of pictures of what it has been set by television as the perfect female beauty, which is essentially sexual. Immediately Jon is depicted in front of his computer telling the audience (in voice off) how and why he likes porn, adding the main reason for him to do it. Afterwards, the list of his cares is presented:  ‘his body, his pad, his ride, his family, his church, his boys, his girls and his porn’, clearing up that he is a master in the practice of seducing women.

Jon: Yeah I’m not gonna lie, this sound (his laptop turning on) gets me as hard as a fucking rock but I don’t like to go too fast right off the pad, yeah I really work my way into it. Nice and easy, so I start off with some stills… then, once I’m getting into it I start looking for a video, I never actually touch my cock till I find the right clip, then once I do… good bye, for the next few minutes all the bullshit fades away and the only thing in the world is those tits, the ass, the blow job, the cowboy, the doggie, the money shot, and that’s it, I don’t gotta say anything, I don’t gotta do anything, I just fucking loose myself.

This short sequence rounds up Jon’s target in life, almost as a symbolic comparison the computer turns on just as him, for the basic task of searching for the perfect woman who gives him the possibility of loosing himself. A few seconds later the audience already knows that Jon spends his time with different women over the weekends, he and his friends assess them by their looks, showing no care whatsoever for the claims of other women who went out with them before. Like in most situations one may perceive something as real based in his previous experiences related to that object, for example: if one has always and ever seen one race of dog, one will assume it as the only possibility of that being called ‘dog’ however, this thought is limited by the lack of knowledge of other races and by the circumstances that have presented only one race of dog. In Jon’s case, the routine he keeps of watching porn –mixed with the education he had at home– has affected his perception of the ‘perfect woman’ and what she should do. In the world he goes into when he turns on the computer women have perfect bodies and are utterly pleasing, there is no need to do or worry about anything else because there is no judgement and no care for reciprocity in the dark privacy between the illusory woman and Jon, the only one that matters at that particular moment is him. When he comes out of that world his reception is set for a certain sort of woman but as he tries one and another, he falls into the frustration of not finding the woman he has made himself used to.

          Finally he meets Barbara, a woman who spins his head off. She is the perfect embodiment of his ideals of a woman: a great body, fit and athletic, and a beautiful face, ‘she is a diamond’ in appearance, like the girls he was used to watch on internet therefore, he feels automatically attracted to her. Barbara is another example of how one can become fixed on realities based in influences from the outside, in this case the media. She is very fond of romantic comedies in which the characters have a certain love routine:

Jon (Voice Off): I don’t watch too many movies, I used to watch them a lot when I was a little kid, before I could get my hands on any porn, ‘cause back then if I wanted to see a really hot girl my best bet was to watch a movie […] But now, I don’t really see the point. I don’t know, I guess I’m missing something because most people… eat that shit up…the pretty woman, the pretty man, love at first sight, the first kiss, the break up, the make up, the expensive wedding, and the drive off into the sunset. Everyone knows this is fake but they watch it like if its real fucking life.

Jon is narrating this routine, whereas they go to the movies to watch a romantic comedy that leaves Barbara utterly bedazzled about what she sees on the screen. When they come out, she is really convinced that the main characters were in loved and that he –the protagonist– ‘is a real man’. So Barbara, just as he does, has a different addiction with a similar goal: to fulfil her ideas of love and relationships, following a pre-set stereotype of a couple. Both of them take refugee and comfort in their addictions from the fearful reality they seem to live, hoping to find that which they have become used to through the screen. Barbara is a character situated in the opposite side of what is expected in a relationship, whilst Jon is focused in finding the perfect woman through sex, she desires to find the perfect man through a fairy-tale relationship. So, the influence of the media can be found in any situation or extreme related to one particular theme, it is the desire of the subject that opens the possibility for the latter to be influenced from any angle. 

          Later in the film Barbara seems to expect from Jon the sort of behaviour that she had watched in movies, ignoring the positive things he actually did for her and only taking into account the faults that were not acceptable according to her preconceptions. The expectations that one might hold related to certain ideals defined by one’s intention of believing in a particular thing might also make us blind to anything that does not fulfil the entire scheme of what one is hoping for, limiting the range of experiences and therefore of self-knowledge and interaction with other people and hiding behind the curtain of illusion the beauty, often cold but honest, of a reality that can be accepted, modified or improved by us if recognised. At some point, both Jon and Barbara realise their own delusions, but it is a flaw hard to accept:

Jon: All right, first of all, everybody watches porn, ok, all guys! Any guy tells you he doesn’t watch porn is fucking lying…

Barbara: You are so full of shit!

Jon: Second of all…

Barbara: You are full of shit!…

Jon: Second of all! You know damn well we do it all the fucking time!

Barbara: Yeah, I know we do…

Jon: Whenever you want!

Barbara: So what the fuck is wrong with you, what the fuck are you doing, ha!.  How you watch that shit?

Jon: I don’t know! Ok, I don’t know! How you watch all the stupid fucking movies that you watch?

Barbara: How do I watch movies? What are you taking about?

Jon: Say, you probably watch that shit as much as I watch porn

Barbara: What are you saying? That has nothing to do with anything

Jon: I’m just saying…

Barbara: Ah, Jon! Movies and porno are different, Jon! They give awards for movies…

Jon: They give awards for porno too…

Barbara: Oh, shut up! Shut the fuck up.

The voluntary addictions to their ‘ideals’ are revealed to one another as imperfections and become the deathly poison for the relationship. They are not only looking for someone else to be like they wanted, but also each of them is trying to be who they thought were supposed to be. Barbara is the good, responsible, beautiful and difficult woman, whilst Jon is a strong man, with a good home, a good family and good beliefs. In each of these areas he endeavours to superficially get what he was supposed to be getting. Even though he is a nice guy, his priorities are sorted out according to what he thinks he wants and not to what he really needs. The gorgeous woman and the rest of his life are notions given by the bombarding media and the education he got at home, which is important to him, as shown in the film. In life, these sort of schemes are part of patterns that we absorb from many places around us, the influence is continuous without even noticing it and it is only by the reflection of our own experiences and awareness of our reality that we can really pursue our dreams within the possibilities of becoming real.

          Jon, alone and frustrated by his own deception, took refuge in porn again. But a woman, Esther, comes to his life through brief and uncomfortable encounters. One could say she represents the honest, unattached woman, without fixed expectations, liberated from the anxiety of the endless search, rather getting along with what was present and open to everything and nothing. Like someone who lives day by day, it is this quality of easiness and awareness what allows one to receive experiences without judgement and prejudices, because there is no predisposition to anything, one can accept or reject what happens and manage it consciously. In the film, Esther didn’t have a ‘plan’ when approaching to Jon, and when she happens to get closer she talks to him about certain realities:

Esther: Ok, is totally unlike the stuff that I imagine you watch everyday, that stuff is not healthy.

Jon: What do you mean is not healthy? How do you know?

Esther: Oh my god, please! That’s stuff is ridiculous and it’s nothing to do with actual sex, that’s, that’s why you’re having troubles with real women.

Jon: Oh I get off fine with real girls

Esther: Yeah, yeah, you definitely do…

Jon: Yeah, I just couldn’t get up beaten with my eyes closed.

Esther: But didn’t you tell me last week that you liked porn better than real sex? Oh, honey I ought to be honest with you, cause it seems like that’s what you want. Look the way you have sex is like totally one-sided, its like I’m not even there, I mean look, it’s fine with me, I’m not complaining, it just so happens that meaningless sex is something that I want in my life right now, but…but you said that you want to loose your self in sex, if you wanna loose yourself, you have to loose yourself in another person and she has to loose yourself in you, it’s a two-way thing.

This is the first time in the film that someone talks frankly to Jon about relationships,  she reveals the truth about his delusions. He finally is able to recognise his situation and improve it, but not in a magical way, but with awareness and self-conscience. He finds in Esther the space to be who he is, without expecting or thinking about a future. Just enjoying the moment as it is. The relationship with Esther is not ‘ideal’, she had her own issues to fix and he kept being imperfect however, they found a way to enjoy each other, spend time together, have fun and loose themselves in the other. The idea of a ‘perfect relationship’ is appealing when there is fear of conflict, when there is a resistance to confront or accept the other, whether it be as a reflection or as the contrast of oneself, in any case, reality might be overlooked in order to free the path for illusions that come from a faraway cave where sometimes one runs to along the way of life.

          Even though this film gives a good example of how media might affect the schemes and expectations of people towards love and relationships, it cannot give a definite sketch of what a relationship should be, so it must not be taken for granted that the only solution to a relationship is the one that Jon found in the end because we would be falling into the mistake the film served to exemplify, bringing only frustration and deception. Films represent certain aspects of reality and have been made in such a way as to attach the audience to the story however, the end of the story must stay by the end of the movie, perhaps a message, an opinion, even a point of view could be taken from the film, but one should be careful of not giving up into the fantasy and stop living the excitement of one’s real life, which doesn’t mean that one cannot achieve dreams, hopes and desires, rather they might be found in the unexpected possibilities of an open mind.

Leave a comment

Filed under Essays, Film, News

The Crib of Education


Education is a subject important to any country, it is constantly reviewed by many governments for their annual budgets, as a social matter, it is discussed by academics, by educational institutions as renowned universities and, in an international although rather short group, they compete against each other, they also work together for academic publications and researches, and they look forward for innovation in education and manners of imparting and assisting classes. Education then is a political, economical and social issue but, what happens when the fundamental and the elementary education starts to fail? Is it just a problem of the education system, the education ideology, or education itself as seen like our personal stories? What happens with those ‘future generations’ in the present that make their possibilities tremble under a rogue of difficulties and ignorance? Where does everything starts and ends? In the film Detachment by Tony Kaye we can find depicted a problematic of the relation between parental education – children, student – academic education, where the three parts, one way or another, struggle to engage, to understand their actuality and try to progress. One of the important depictions of the film lies in who is in charge of the education: parents, teacher or both, how possible it is to educate in one area if the other is utterly failing and finally who are the most affected and the distorted possibilities they may come across along the way. Henry Barthes is a young man who works as a substitute teacher in different schools. Each work period is short enough for him not to get attached to anyone, however in his last assignment he enters into a world of low proficient students and discouraged colleagues. He faces the challenges in the classroom as well as in his personal life whilst taking care of his dying grandfather who resides in an asylum; his temporary relationship with Erica, a very young prostitute whom he gives shelter and his almost-relationship with one of his teacher- colleagues.

Throughout the film is clear the difficulty that teachers are having to educate and interest students properly. It is also mentioned that the Principal Carol Dearden, is about to be sacked due the low accomplishment of successful grades in students. The third part of the education missing, and by this I really mean ‘absent’, are the parents, who do not have a clear presence, they are like a voice in the background that does not nurture or supports the children. Only one or two of them appear in some scenes, and if not making a scandal, only as a shadow on the wall. This treatment of the parents presence, or rather absence, could be interpreted as a metaphor of the lack of interest and poor education students have received at home, it is not only evident in the children’s behaviour, but also in their figures as orphans when it comes to academic matters. In the second half of the movie an example of this is presented: the school is having a ‘Parents’ Night’ in which parents are supposed to attend, interact with the teachers and ask about their children’s performance; when the event finally starts, no parent appears in the scene, the halls are utterly empty, everything seems deserted and the teachers’ hopes and efforts seem to go underground:

“Ms. Perkins: I just don’t understand it. Where are all the parents?
Dr. Parker: I don’t know
Mr. Wiatt: I was in my room for two hours and saw one parent, where are they? Where is everybody?
Ms. Perkins: We don’t know
Mr. Wiatt: It’s uncanny”

To receive academic instruction it is essential to posses certain skills that are, most of the time if not always, acquired at home as focused attention, respect for authorities, curiosity, honesty, and a desire for knowledge; without these qualities, how will the teachers be able to do their job? It is not only to pass on the knowledge but also to inspire the creativity and work of the students, but it seems impossible to engage in such labours if the basic skills needed for their teachings to flourish are not developed. Now, the problem goes further if parents make a presence that is wrong and serves as a poor example for the children. In one sequence, this is exemplified by a mother breaking into the professors’ office, yelling and kicking, claiming that her daughter was expelled from school and that she wanted her back. Without any kind of dialogue with the responsible teacher, she just barged in and made her point. In a later scene we see the reason for the expulsion, the young girl spits on her professor’s face. The mother is diminishing the authority of the teacher by jumping over the decision without informing herself of the situation and is passing a general message to her daughter about demanding what she wants by screams and aggression. Thus, the attitude ‘spit on anyone’s face’ is reinforced. Even worst is when the parental education is not as an example but as a direct approach to the child’s condition: Meredith is a talented girl who is interested in art and photography, but her enthusiasm finds an obstacle in the presence of her father (voice off):

“Meredith’s father: What are you doing there? Meredith: Don’t you knock?

Meredith’s father: So what is all this supposed to be? Your tortured soul? Why don’t you paint something cheerful? Like happy with colour.

Meredith: What do you want from me, dad? Besides for me to have been born with a penis.

Meredith’s father: I don’t work all day to have my night ruined by your teen angst. Mostly As might get you a full-right to Stanford if you were some minority care but I am not going to support you and your little creative habits! Ok? I’ve had it with all your little art projects that are going nowhere!

Meredith: You always know what to say, dad.

Meredith’s father: Now, if you grew your hair up, and…lost some weight, you could attract a nice boy and, who knows…”

Therefore, the education is imparted by both sides, parents start the process and teachers complement it, if one of them fails, the other side is affected.

By acknowledging the fundamental role of parental education, it is easier to see that if education fails at home, is rather likely that it will fail at school. So, whereas the parents and their endeavours are not seen on screen, the journey of the teachers is shown. Each of them has a story behind, despite their personal problems they seem to put their efforts in a job that crashes them constantly against the students attitude. In the film it is evident that students hold the rules and teachers cannot do much against such a rebellion, however some of them, if just for a few moments, get to achieve something at expenses of their right behaviour or their attitude toward the school community. When Henry has its first class he attempts to inspire the young students and show them that through the themes they review in his class, they could find a way for many possibilities in their life, however the response he gets its quite harsh from one of them. His authority as a teacher is defended and kept by the way he respectfully and bravely confronts this situation:

Henry: Take out a piece of paper, I would like to assess where your individual writing skills are…
Kid: What if we got no paper?
Henry: Ok, here is the situation: You’re dead. Alright, write a brief but detailed essay about…

Kid: Hey Jackass… I asked you a fucking question!
Henry: …about what a friend or a parent might say about you during your funeral. Ok? You have 30 minutes.
Kid: Oh shit… I asked you a mother fucking question, didn’t I? (He throws Mr. Barthe’s bag away)

Henry: Anything else?
Kid: You’d better back the fuck up before I fucking rock your shit.
Henry: That bag…it doesn’t have any feelings…it’s empty. I don’t have any feeling you can hurt either, ok? I understand you’re angry. I used to be very angry too, ok. I get it. You have no reason to be angry with me, because I am one of the few people that’s here trying to give you an opportunity. Now I’m going to ask you to just sit down and do your best. And I’ll give you a piece of paper. How’s that?

It is difficult for the professors to build something in the students when the latter are reluctant even to listen, least to understand why it is important for them to attend to school and actually learn something, as a consequence a vicious circle starts to build up when the teachers become discouraged or depressed about their jobs and its reach, and thus reaffirming the students disinterest and ignorance. For most of them desperation hits the door when all their attempts have failed proving them incapable of reaching so deep within the scholars:

“Girl: What up Dr. Parker? Can we get this over with? I’ve got things to do.

Dr. Parker: Ok, so what are your plans after leaving High school Missy, since you are not going to college?
Girl: I don’t know…pfff, hang out with my boyfriend, do some modelling shit, be in my friend’s band.

Dr. Parker: Well, I have have your ten week grade report. You know what it says? F,F,F,F,F.

Girl: F,F,F,F,F…yeah.
Dr. Parker: You know what that means? It means you don’t care.
Girl: You’re brilliant… Can I go now?

Dr. Parker: God you are a shallow, disgusting creature. You wanna know the truth? One, you’re not going to be in any band or a model Missy, because you have no ambition. With no skills you’ll be competing with 80% of the US workforce for a minimum wage job, which should work out for the rest of your life until you’re replaced by a computer.

Girl: I don’t care

Dr. Parker: Two: the only talent you’ll ever have is getting men to fuck you. Your life will basically become a carnival of pain. And when you can’t stand it, not one more day, not one more hour. It will get worse, much worse! Every day I come in this office and I listen you kids to shit-off all over yourselves! It is so easy to be careless, it takes courage and character to care! None of you have any of these qualities. Get out! Just get out!. Get Out!

Girl: Fuck you!”

Once the vicious circle is set, the results spread extending to those hidden elements that want, but cannot, swim over the troubled waters. Following Meredith’s situation, she is really dedicated to her photography and his works of interventions on images, however the attitude of her schoolmates, the ignorance and discouragement of his father, and the low authority of the teachers prevent her to expose and show her real interest and therefore cope their road of development. Thus, the general field of education turns redundant and useless.

The consequences of such a situation in the film are beyond tragic, which could be taken as a statement of the gravity of those circumstances in real life. The result of the fracture between these two systems of education is an emotional and intellectual blockage, the kids not only suffer from utter indifference to their needs, but also are diminishing their opportunities to grow emotionally and personally, for them to have a better quality of life. So much as a slow and long suicide. In the film two young figures are set as an example of the lost road: Erica, a young prostitute that pursues Henry until he gives her a temporary place to stay and look after her. At first she cannot understand why Henry would do something like that, after a few days she accepts his behaviour and starts to care about him and responds with actions that show him that she is putting attention. He is showing and teaching her a better form of life. Unfortunately, he cannot remain as a foster parent so he has to call ‘social services‘ for her to be taken somewhere else, but even so, he has already showed her how important it is that she looks after herself.

“Henry: You now, you can’t keep living on the street.

Erica: I’m not, I mean I’m staying here with you.
Henry: Well, you can’t continue to stay here with me. I’m not good for you.
Erica: It’s not true. You’re like the only family I’ve ever had.
Henry: Well, I can’t be your family. I can’t give you what you need. You have to understand, you should be…
Erica: You are good and gentle, you are the most kind…I love you Henry.”

The other example, although more tragic, is Meredith’s situation. She, after a few encouraging words from Henry, who subtlety makes her see that the contemporary scheme of beauty is rotten and that she is valuable for who she is, develops a fancy for him, she spends her time taking photographs of him and pays close attention to his classes. However, when she tries to show him her affection, he has to set things clear and explain to her that there are boundaries in the relations between teachers and students. She brakes down into a very emotional and disrupting moment in which she seems devastated by his response, not because he could be more to her, but because the only person that was actually seeing her and recognising her is also rejecting her, hence she is alone. In a later sequence Henry tries to apologise and show her that he still appreciates her although in a restricted way, but it is too late, she has decided that given her circumstances her life is not worth living.

“Henry: Meredith?
Meredith: Yes?
Henry: Do you need someone to talk to?
Meredith: Yeah, will you talk to me? When you talk to me, and you look at me it’s like you really see me.
Henry: I do see you Meredith. Want to go see Dr. Parker with me?
Meredith: Oh come one, don`t blow me off to the guidance counsellor.
Henry: I’m not, I’m not…What can I do?
Meredith: It’s like you said, we’re…we’re forced into this. There is nothing left, nothing but to realise how fucked up things are. It’s not enough, I won’t last.
Henry: Listen to me, just listen. We are all the same, we all feel pain, we all have chaos in our lives. Life is very very confusing, I know. I don’t have the answers but I know that if you write it out, it will be ok.
Meredith: Mr. Barthes, do you like me?
Henry: Yes of course I do…

Meredith:  You said you liked me, please, please, please, don’t push me away, please. Just hold on to me and tell me that everything is gonna be ok.”

In both cases, what opened the door between Henry and the young ones, enabling the possibility of education and guidance, was the fact that the former was open to know them and show interest in them, not only for being students, but for being humans with the right of having a better life.

Detachment shows a cruel and hard situation of children and young teenagers who go through difficult situations at home, even if this are not depicted and only made perceptible. Teachers, although important in this process of development, remain impotent in front of the students, of the parents and of themselves, which may bring them dissatisfaction with their jobs and a discouraging look into the future, some of them are still looking forward to improve these conditions whilst others have already given up, giving way to the vicious cycle where ignorance and poor quality of life dwells. Hence,  young people are living in chaos where there is no proper guidance for them, somehow they may look for a way to find themselves but with the wrong tools and anyone, besides the parents, that try to help them will find a wall between them, for the kids will be at a defensive state after their educative deficiency. The future for the kids looks grey when thinking that it may continue this vicious cycle with them re-living the lives of their parents, and contributing in the creation of a society that instead of being healthy, nourished by art, culture and good habits, becomes aggressive, ignorant of their own rights and potential, and hypnotised by the systems that controls them. In my point of view, this movie is reflecting a problematic that is real in several places around the globe, and sometimes, although not so outrageously, it can be seen in communities where the economical problems are not so intense and the interest for knowledge is switching for popularity and social interaction, so it has become a job of utmost importance to look into the paradigms of education and change or improve what be needed, and this job belongs as much to the parents as to the teachers, and in the greater scale to those who are in charge of greater circles of society.

Leave a comment

Filed under Essays, Film, News

A kingdom of cycles

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom (Photo credit: olga_murillo)

Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom is a wicked, romantic comedy that can be analysed from the soundtrack to the story, so I found myself in a pickle whilst choosing the theme I wanted to write about. It is somehow obvious that this film is dominated by the roles of the children but then, what does it has to reflect about love? Given that is one of the motifs of the story; and about adulthood? Which seems to appear as an absurd and chaotic background. Through the exploration of the well-known attitude of rejection to what is different, the much studied theme of love, the reference to the figure of adults and their behaviour, and the exposure of what makes this movie the playground of children, I will try to show what it has to say about love and the world of adults. Set in 1965, Suzy and Sam are two kids who fall in love and decide to run away together. Sam was a member of the Khaki Scouts, so when they disappear the Captain and his boy-scouts set off to look for him. When Suzy’s parents realise that she has run away, they take the whole family into the quest. The police officer of the town leads the investigation, and when they finally find them in a cove, they turn them apart. Sam, being an orphan, remains in the custody of the police officer until “Social Services” could take care of him. The boy-scouts decide to help them unite again and free both Suzy and Sam, so the adults have to renew the investigation to find them again, but this time Sam is able to remain close to his girl.

 “What kind of bird are you?” is what Sam asked Suzy when he first saw her. The girls were getting ready for a play when Sam broke in during an escape from the group he was with. “I am a raven” was Suzy’s answer. They immediately fell in love. This couple is as odd as each one as individual, the attraction between them is comprehensible. Sam is showed to be a very intelligent boy, although problematic, while Suzy has a volatile character and an even more strange behaviour. From the beginning of the movie she appears looking at different places and to people with binoculars, almost as spying on them, later in the film she is shown to be capable of hurting someone or even herself and always wandering in and around the house. Whereas Sam is more adventurous, he likes to explore and experiment, unfortunately those activities seem to have brought problems for him with his different foster parents. The people that surround them remark their oddness and make more evident why, in a world were they are both rejected, suit very well to one another. It is exposed that Sam is not well seen by the boy scouts because he is an orphan:

“Lazy eye: I heard he ran away because his family died.

Scout Gadge: I heard he never had any family in the first place.

Scout Deluca: That’s probably why he’s crazy

Scout Redford: I’ll tell you one thing, if we find him, I’m not going to be the one who forgot to bring a weapon.

Scout Roosevelt: Me neither”

Suzy, in the other hand, has a similar problem with her family

“Walt Bishop: How can we help her? She’s got so many problems. It’s getting worse. Whose fault is it? I don’t know”[…] She doesn’t have any friends.”

Besides, Suzy confesses to Sam that she found on the top of the refrigerator a book titled  “Coping with the very troubled child.” and she thinks that it has to do with her.

They see themselves as strangers to other people, they are aware of the effect that their behaviour causes in others, perhaps they even enjoy it. So, meeting for them, could be as taking refugee from the exterior where they do not seem to belong. In their letters they sent to each other, they mention some of their odd behaviour and the people’s perception:

“Dear Suzy, I accidentally built a fire while I was sleeping. I have no memory of this but my foster parents think I am lying. Unfortunately, it is…

Dear Sam: I am in trouble again because I threw a rock through the window. My mother still has glass in her hair. Also…

Sam: Dear Suzy: I have been trying very hard to make friends, but I feel people do not like my personality. In fact, I can understand why they might not…

Suzy: Dear Sam, now I am getting suspended because I got in a fight with Molly. She says I go berserk. Our principal is against me. Why do some…

Sam: Dear Suzy, I know your parents hurt your feelings, but they still love you. That is more important. If they…

Suzy: Dear Sam, I do think you should think of their faces every day, even if it makes you sad. It is too bad they did not leave you more pictures of themselves. Can you…”

Beyond their non-accepted characteristics, they both show special interests that remark more their difference to the rest of their society, Sam is a skilled painter and, at some point, he seems even more wise and eloquent than the Police Officer, Captain Sharp, who later adopts him. Suzy likes to read stories about adventures, girl heroes, kingdoms and magic, and during their escape she carries her books, a record player and her binoculars, which she says is her power, since she can see things at a closer look with them. When they flee together, these interests are the ones they share and enjoy the most. The things that cannot be done or expressed with others are exactly what they show to each other when they get together.

 It is commonly believed that couples are attracted by their common interests and vision of the world but in this case, is not only their world view, but what the ‘world’ thinks of them what makes them be together. However, there were many obstacles before them, like their parents and the fact that both were ill-spoken of. So an option was to flee to a lonely and hidden place, where they would not be judged, criticised or censured by anyone, they would be free from limitations and express themselves as well as the feelings they had toward each other. Like in the bedroom, it is in those intimate places where we reveal who we are because the restrictions can be left behind the door. The fact that both are criticised by their societies for their behaviour allows Sam and Suzy to understand each other and share the experience of being outsiders to their social groups, freaks who spend time together, although precocious for their young age. So their need to express who they are and what they want drives them to confine their love in the cove, where they do not just hang around, but also behave like if they were adults:

“Sam: This is our land! 

Suzy: Yes it is!


Suzy: Can you French kiss?

Sam: I think so. Is there any secret to it?

Suzy: The tongues touch each other.

Sam: Okay, let’s try it.

Suzy: It feels hard.

Sam: Do you mind?

Suzy: I like it.

Sam: Tilt your head sideways

Suzy: You can touch my chest. I… I think they’re going to grow more.”

The young lovers seem to be like little grown-ups. Suzy wears just underwear while they are in the cove, and Sam is constantly smoking through a pipe. Even more, their love is stronger that any other in the film, for they fight to be together despite the obstacles and threats. Their love is not as romantic as it is full of bizarre experiences and inadequacies.

 They are discovered in the cove and torn away. The boy scouts, after the hunt, decide to help them escape from an ill destiny, reflecting on the injustice they committed by judging Sam unfairly. After rescuing Suzy and Sam, they traveled to Fort Lebanon for the fugitives to go further, in the camp Sam and Suzy decide to get married. Even if it was just symbolic, this act reflects the passion and hope of the first love. More is what they do in comparison to the world of the adults that decide to resign to their situations. For Sam and Suzy, their love is worth dying for, by the end of the search to recover them, like in any romantic drama, they have to run and decide whether to live and be separated or died together:

“Suzy: I don’t know, but if it is too shallow, we’ll break our necks anyway. Hang on to me

Sam: Okay


Suzy: On three again

Sam: Wait. Just in case this is a suicide or they capture us and we never see each other again anymore, I just want to say thank you for marrying me. I’m glad I got to know you, Suzy.” 

The two kids facing a terrible decision against the ineptitude of the adults turns them into greater figures than the latter and consequently their love triumphs, perhaps not in acceptance, because they have to keep their secrecy, but at least there is a way besides running away for them to be together. However, the resolution is sweet and sour, for they end up taking the roles that adults already have, and are depicted as the mini figures of what already was there, Sam becomes a mini version of the Captain Sharp, who is now his foster parent, and Suzy is a mini version of her mother, the kids are together just as these two adults are, in clandestinity.

The set of adults in this film does not depict any kind of desired role model, but exactly the opposite, there are several authority figures that are constantly cheated by the young lovers and their later accomplices, the parental figures are chaotic and distant, their actions seem to be inadequate and full of contradictions. First, Suzy’s parents are an example of a couple that are still together more for pity and resignation that for genuine care for each other. Mrs. Bishop is cheating her husband with Captain Sharp, whilst Mr. Bishop spends his time detached from his family, sometimes ignoring where they are and setting a poor example to the children:

“Walt Bishop: Did the judge consider your application for leniency? Rogers v. Yentob? 

Laura Bishop: He granted it

Walt Bishop: Great

Laura Bishop: I’m sorry, Walt.

Walt Bishop: It’s not your fault… Which injuries are you apologising for, specifically?

Laura Bishop: Specifically? Whichever ones still hurt.

Walt Bishop: Half of those were self-inflicted… I hope the roof flies off, and I get sucked up into space. You’ll be better off without me.

Laura Bishop: Stop feeling sorry for yourself. 

Walt Bishop: Why?

Laura Bishop: We’re all they’ve got, Walt.

Walt Bishop: That’s not enough”

Later in the movie, Mr. Bishop, after finding Suzy with Sam semi-naked in the cove, decides to display a certain pseudo-strength be telling his kids: “ I’ll be out back. I’m going to find a tree to chop down.” Of course the kids cannot care less about him, for they are utterly absorbed playing a game.

 Another character is Scout Master Ward whose behaviour in front of the troop, though nice, is contradictory, he checks the chores of the troop whilst smoking and depends on them to get things done in the camp. When Sam escapes, his reaction is to rely in the abilities of the scouts and in Captain Sharp. Ward is single and sets his position of Scout Master as his main job, sits in his tent drinking, smoking in a depressing manner and later, after rescuing Sam the first time, loses the entire troop.

“S.M. Ward: Who’s missing?

Troop: Shakusky

S.M. Ward: Shakusky you in there? Sam? It’s zipped from the inside. (he checks the tent and finds a hole behind a map) Jiminy Cricket, he flew the coop. 


Walt Bishop: Hold it right there! You’re not leaving this island. Our daughter has been abducted by one of these beige lunatics. 

Captain Sharp: Walt, is very clear. The two of them conspired in this together.

S.M. Ward: Don’t worry, Mr. Bishop. She’ll be safe. Sam’s got excellent wilderness skills.

Walt Bishop: Why can’t you control your Scouts!?

S.M. Ward: Well, I’m trying”


Boy Scout: You’re not going to believe this one sir. That Scout Master on New Penzance has now lost his entire troop” 

Just as Ward, Captain Sharp relies on the scouts to find Sam and Suzy, it seems ridiculous that both, instead of asking for help to authorities, count on the kids to solve the difficulties. After finding Sam and Suzy the first time, Captain Sharp, perhaps out of a mirroring sensation, remains as custodial guardian of Sam, whilst in the kitchen, Captain Sharp pours beer for Sam while having a conversation:

“Sam: I admit we knew we’d get in trouble. That part’s true. We knew people would be worried, and we still ran away, anyway. But something also happened, which we didn’t do on purpose. When we first met each other, something happened to us. 

Captain Sharp: That’s very eloquent. I can’t argue against anything you’re saying. But then again, I don’t have to, ‘cause you’re 12 years old. Look, let’s face it. You’re probably a much more intelligent person than I am. In fact, I guarantee it. But even smart kids stick their finger in electrical sockets sometimes. It takes time to figure things out. It’s been proven by history. All mankind makes mistakes. It’s our job to try to protect you from making the dangerous ones, if we can… You want a slug?”

 All the adults are incompetent in their roles, whereas the kids are the ones who get things done. It is the troop who discover the young lovers twice, Sam sets a better camping spot than Scout Master Ward and has an even better loving relationship than Captain Sharp. Suzy is fighting for her love, her mother resigns to hers, and when Mr. Bishop threatens her she replies:

“Walt Bishop: Be advised, the two of you will never see each other again. Those were your last words. Do you understand?

Suzy: I’d be careful if I were you. One of these days, somebody’s going to get pushed too far, and who knows what they’re capable of. 

Walt Bishop: Is that a threat?

Suzy: It’s a warning.

Lionel: You’re a traitor to our family.

Suzy: Good. I want to be” 

Kids have power over adults because they are in control of the situation. They would do whatever they wanted as many times as needed despite warnings or reprobations, because their role figures just did not know what to do, their actions were inadequate and their mistakes almost absurd. Therefore, everything seems to be focused at the kids, and even though they have the power, they cannot escape from the faith of turning into adults someday.

 In the first scene of the movie we appreciate a set alike the illustrations in children’s books –trees painted on the walls– and continuos scenes where children are listening together to Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra followed by scenes of Mr. and Mrs. Bishop in different rooms and doing each one their own activities. From this moment we can perceive a sort of succession between the children and the parents, the kids we see listening attentively to the orchestra will one day become the parents, submerged in their own worlds, they seem to do what they like while the parents have no idea. By the end of each chain of frames from children to parents, Suzy appears looking through her binoculars to the camera, which speaks about a closer look to someone, perhaps the spectator, which would work as for general social criticism. Britten’s piece was commissioned for an education film documentary called Instruments of the Orchestra which gives us an idea that the film will speak about some kind of education, either for us as spectators, for the characters within the movie or for both.  In this first scene Mr. and Mrs. Bishop’s children gather around the record player one by one to take the role of an instrument in the orchestra of life. We know that a cycle that will be developed through time when the whole explanation of the piece is finished:

“Kid narrator: In order to show you how a big symphony orchestra is put together, Benjamin Britten has written a big piece of music, which is made up of smaller pieces that show you all the separate parts of the orchestra. These smaller pieces are called variations, which means different ways of playing the same tune. First of all, he lets us hear the tune or the theme, which is a beautiful melody by the much older British composer Henry Purcell. Here is Purcell’s theme played by the whole orchestra together. Now Mr. Britten lets you hear the four different families of the orchestra playing the same Purcell theme in different ways. First, we hear the woodwind family. The flutes, the oboes, the clarinets and the bassoons. Here comes the brass family. The trumpets, the horns, the trombones and the tubas. Now, Mr. Britten arranges the Purcell theme for the string family. The violins, the violas, the cellos and the double basses, and of course the harp. And finally the percussion family, all those drums and gongs and things you hit. After this, you will hear the theme by Purcell, played once more in its original form by all four families together. That is, the whole orchestra


So you see, the composer Benjamin Britten has taken the whole orchestra apart. Now he puts it back together again in a fugue. The instruments come in one after another in the same order as before, beginning with the piccolo. And at the end, when all the instruments have finally come in… (Suzy, Lionel, Murray, Rudy, dinner!)… melody, while the other instruments … (Don’t make us ask twice!)”

In fact, the narration is exactly the structure of the movie, where the characters are presented, then separated, his situations showed one by one and then put together again for the grand finale.

 The kids are the focus of the movie, though the role of the adults is important as a contrast and perhaps as a red light for what the children may end up becoming. Adulthood is depicted as the world of chaos and absurd, their decisions are as useless as their own situations. Their future seem gloomy as their present:

“Laura Bishop through a bullhorn: Walt, where the hell are you?

Walt Bishop: Right here. Why are you cursing at me?

Laura Bishop: Does it concern you that your daughter’s just run away from home?

Walt Bishop: That’s a loaded question

Laura Bishop: Come down and read this!”

We also have already seen that little by little children start behaving like adults by putting themselves in the same situations although responding slightly different, but the warning is still there, even though the kids are in control, the cycle may lead them to become just as their parental roles. The ‘piece’ can be played by different families and in different ways through time, over and over again. So, the children will eventually become their parents and will, therefore, make a lot of mistakes just as the latter, and the cycle will continue.

Moonrise Kingdom is a film that criticise society, their actions, consequences and repetitive cycle of mistakes by changing the roles of adults and children and making evident the absurd of what may be ignored from the grown up perspective. It is a parody of life and adulthood represented by children, who at the same time are just characters, film instruments, mirrors of the world of adulthood, of its impotence, its contradictions and its values. The whole film is a play orchestrated and structured in such away that you can perceive not only the cycle, but also those changes that happen between the roles, the innocence and positiveness of young love compared to the doom faith of the adults’ consummated one. This romantic comedy reflects about the purities and impurities of love in different stages, but more than that, reflects in the absurdity that we become as adults and in the redirection of ourselves into a cycle that takes us nowhere. In my point of view this beautifully illustrated depiction of society and its inner circles can make smile more than one person by showing off our own potential inadequacies.

Leave a comment

Filed under Auteurs, Essays, Film, News