By Afra Nariman
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Stars: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Kietel
During the summer of 1965, an island off the coast of New England seems to be untouched by the rest of the world’s many problems. Two 12 year olds, Sam and Suzy, who are staying on the island, fall in love with each other and decide to run away together. They spend a few days in the wilderness, while the island’s adult inhabitants put out a search party to find them before a huge storm is set to hit the island.
As we grow older, many of us forget what it is to be a child. We get so caught up in the day-to-day struggle that comes with existing in such a complicated and problematic world. We lose our sense of wonder about the world and no longer are able to notice the many unique and sublime things about life. Moonrise Kingdom tells the innocent story of two kids who are unaware of the terrible things going on around the world, and focused only on the exciting and beautiful things it has to offer, namely love and adventure.
Both Sam and Suzy are outsiders. Sam is an orphan who is not accepted by his fellow Khaki Scouts, and Suzy’s parents view her as a “troubled child.” In each other, the two children have found acceptance, companionship, understanding… and love. Before anything else, this film is a classic romantic-comedy. It tells us the story of a summer romance between children. It is love in its truest form and its most innocent form. Moonrise Kingdom is, in many ways, about childhood all together and the absurdity of growing up and the complications that come with age. When we grow up, everything feels so convoluted and stressful; we often forget about life’s simple pleasures and the purity of elements of the human experience, such as love and friendship. On the other hand, the experience of childhood can feel so complex in the moment, but is simple from the outside looking back at it. In children, there is good and there is bad, as displayed through the dynamics between Sam’s fellow campers and their moral progression throughout the film. Anderson does a brilliant job at giving every child character in the film their own story arch.
The film is also madly entertaining; full of comedy and outrageous scenes. In many instances, the kids are living in their own world, by their own rules and their own logic. We see the children carrying and using weapons, operating a motorcycle, gambling and partaking in many more adult activities. The violence and immorality of some of the actions go morally unnoticed and do not entirely affect the story because, well… they’re all kids!
In this film, Wes Anderson is able to bring back childhood memories and make the audience feel nostalgic of a much simpler time in our lives. It reminds us of everything that many adults seem to forget as they grow up, such as pure love, joy, excitement for the future, an unawareness of the world’s misery and the ability to be caught up in your own imaginative world that defies the logic of the adult-world. Moonrise Kingdom is truly a heartwarming and beautiful film, headlined by an All-Star cast of adults to complement the main heroes of the story: the children. Although the story revolves around children, Anderson is able to make their journey, their hopes and their fears relatable to an audience of all ages, making this story about childhood truly matter to everyone.