I’ve got 8 barrels of whiskey, a shotgun, a box of shells, and a cyanide pill. I’m ready.
Moonrise Kingdom is a movie about two kids using each other to get back at their parents in the hope of getting back their parents, whilst simultaneously stringing up a safety net for the audience. Great movie.
My favourite part of the film occurred during the scene when the adults rowed over in their little boats to the secluded cove – which the children have named Moonrise Kingdom. There, when the adults caught their children in the tent getting it on, the male kid hugged the girl and said: “We’re in love.”
The cyanide pill was calling for me when the kids started to do the sexy dances and kissing. I get it. We’re supposed to dismiss all notions of what ‘love’ is, and let ourselves lean so far ahead that we drop down in the perspective that we should look at love as pure as theirs, that we should have no sort of direct disgust; what century is this you are not supposed to be disgusted anymore, we have to understand everything and everyone – we’re supposed to intentionally suspend disbelief and fall into the hole – the director yells without words. The problem is that fake Hermione and that Moscow-hat bespectacled guy had absolutely no chance at real love. What they did was instead to follow what the adults did earlier in their lives – which leads us to our next problem.
It’s made absolutely clear that in the movie, the adults are the ‘antagonists’, the destroyers of all good and pure, the corruption comes directly from them. Bill Murray talks about how he wishes he were dead, Francis McDormand is cheating on her husband. Let’s take notice that all adults were portrayed as bumbling and useless. In the eyes of the targeted generation for the movie, here is how the adults look like to them: Bruce Willis – Die Hard; in this film he wears a well-ironed police uniform and does nothing but smoke and walk around. Edward Norton – American History X, The Hulk; never bursts out of his schoolmaster uniform, instead wears silk PJ’s and drinks wine to bed. Harvey Keitel – Batman Begins, Pulp Fiction; has burnt marks all over his face because his cabin exploded while he was inside retrieving his arthritis medicine. The cast was chosen specifically to introduce such juxtaposition. What this means is that we know and understand the ‘power’ of all of these actors, but in a slight nod we acknowledge that in this movie they’re playing something they’re not – which further pushes the idea of who they are on the inside of the character, versus the role they have to play as the character, but what is ‘real’ is merely transposed into the inner character of the characters in this movie. What this means for the audience is that we see the all-star cast of adults and we recognize that they have an ‘inner’ power within them, despite their external uselessness/stupidity. If you haven’t realised by now, this is the exact gaze that the audience views their real parents with.
Since we’ve established that in this movie, the kids see their adults as useless and dumb, can someone explain to me what is going on when the kids decide to follow right in their footsteps? Why are they doing the exact same thing as their parents (fall in love, have sex, hate on life) when they could do the exact opposite (be a Buddhist monk, turn to communism, anarchism…)? These kids see all the faults with what their parents are doing, and to rebel they do the exact same thing but 20 years earlier? For the adults, these activities (fall in love, have sex, hate on life) are merely rituals that they have to go through because they’re adults. For kids to actually attempt these things, there is a transgression, and through this transgression we see the “real” meaning behind these things in life, something which the adults cannot see because they’re adults. The kids are claiming ‘meaning’ back from life. I shouldn’t need to remind you that this ‘meaning’ is supplied directly from 20th Century Fox. I hope your ticket was worth the money.
Let’s go back: What is love? Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more. Perhaps marriage will tell us all we need to know about love. At some point in the film, the kids get married, but just before that a sleazy-looking adult takes off his shades and looks at them sternly, warning them that they should think it over before committing to such a sacrosanct matrimony. The kids look confused, and then walked over to a private area to discuss. We can’t hear what they’re discussing about, while in the background there is a boy jumping around on a trampoline. I don’t get it; I want to know what they’re discussing! Perhaps we should look somewhere else for the answer: (500) Days of Summer. In this movie, a young man ‘falls in love’ and he talks to his younger sister about it. He describes how the girl he loves has the same aptitude for music as he has as well as similar literary tastes. He concludes: “She’s the One.” How many times you can roll your eyes depends on how much lube you put under your eyelids, but unfortunately this is real. In Moonrise Kingdom, the straight impression is that both of the lover kids clearly had a penchant for quirkiness and music and books, and in that they were meant to be lovers. Wes Anderson had the scene right, the boy bouncing around on the trampoline with music playing in the background while the lover kids discussed about marriage: it was all an act, we couldn’t hear anything they were saying because there was nothing to be said, they were simply mouthing words to affirm their love. By now I’m in my 7th keg of whiskey and it might kill me, but it won’t help. Love – to kids and the intended audience of the movie, is equally superficial and they’re headed straight for the same path as their parents, but of course they think they’re different: their love has meaning. Wait, wait, hear me out, I know that love as a concept is relatively recent and before that arranged marriages between tribes were the status quo, but my point is that instead of taking responsibility with the freedom of ‘love’, they use it precisely as a tool of vengeance against their parents. Even though it’s not their fault, there is only one hell.
If you’ve watched the whole movie, you’ll know that adults are impotent. When Bill Murray caught his kids having sex, he lifts up their tent with his bare hands, and growls like a bear, and then does nothing really. Harvey Keitel is as lost as a kite without his scout troopers, Edward Norton swirls his wine before drinking, Bruce Willis is paid to look insecure on screen, Frances McDormand has to ask their kids down for dinner by using a bullhorn. On the other hand, the kids use sophisticated scout-trooper jargons, cross rivers with nothing but a rope, have the distinct ability to navigate the deep forests by themselves. If the adults are useless except for fighting, then the kids are the inverse – useful and smart. However, we shouldn’t be content with the idea that kids merely take on the opposite traits of their parents. It’s pretty easy to tell why the kids ‘rebel’, during the boat ride and in the bathtub, the lovergirl had so much hate oozing out of her pores that my screen started flickering and going dark. She made it clear that she hated her parents with all her might. Let’s take two steps back, this kind of hatred is only possible when lovergirl has been completely subjugated by her parents – she is powerless. But wait, aren’t her parents stupid and impotent? Exactly, what can be worse by being completely oppressed by people that are absolutely stupid? Hence that seething hatred – that kind of hatred that can only be a representation of utter powerlessness. “You might be winning, but I hate you, and you love me, so you lose.”
However, here is where I take a divergent turn. It is through this hate; from hate comes the feeling of being oppressed, and this oppression manifests the parent’s power which is where the safety net comes in. You hate your parents and their corporate drony lives and the media easily helps you understand how meaningless that is, so you aspire to find meaning out in the world – i.e you major in literature attempting to grasp that poetic reverie that your parents will never understand, but future jobs be damned – it becomes your identity to disavow the future as long as your muse tingles your spine whilst your eyeballs go white as poetry drips from the blood of your pen. At the end of the movie, the lovers stand at the edge of a clock-tower, prepared to jump into the sea for love. This is the ideal moment – think, this is the point at which Bruce Willis appears and buckles down. This is the point of the overturning of power; this is the pivotal scene in which the kids win. This is the re-emergence of the power – ‘real power’.
There are three distinct levels here. The parents have symbolic power over their kids, which ‘works’ since “fine” and “whatever” seems to be the only words parents have ever heard from their kids. However, the kids find out that parents are actually impotent behind that symbolic power – Bill Murray needing to cut the tree down scene; if you need to demonstrate your ‘strength’ to your kids, your game is up, we all know you’re impotent. Finally, the need of kids for their parents to regain that power, although no longer symbolic – the kids want it for real/ believe it as real; which comes out only through the excessive pushing of their parent’s impotence, and it is exactly then that the kids believe the power of the parents will return. In other words, kids believe that castrating their parents is the way in which they hope their parents will regain true power. Since kids know the symbolic power in parents is false, they simultaneously then believe in the ‘real’ power of their parents, and castration is the way to push that power out. However, for castration to even be considered, the assumption of the ‘real’ power must already be inherent, and that is the ‘safety net’ of the children. It is only with the ‘safety net’ at all, that the kids can even push their lives to the extreme without having second thought for any consequences.
The movie ends with the scene in which the boy and the girl are allowed to be together, and the boy is seen painting the girl. One scene later, we see that the painting was instead of the cove where they first fell in love – Moonrise Kingdom. I’m no prophet but I can predict that life is going to continuously be difficult from now on so here’s a joke: how do you make cyanide delicious?