For those of you who are unfamiliar with this film I’ll give you the gist.
The story is set in a luscious green forest someplace off the grid in what we later come to know is the state of Washington. The main characters include Ben, the father, and his six children: Rellian, Vespyr, Kielyr, Zaja, Nai, and Bodevan. Just by reading the names of his children, one might be able to tell that this is not your average family. Ben and his wife, Leslie, have chosen to raise their children completely cut off from the rest of society, homeschooling them in what they perceive as vital to their development and growth: physical fitness, critical thinking, and how to coexist in harmony with nature.
I could spend hours talking about and analyzing this film and the various ways that it challenges the social institutions that we have held so near and dear to our hearts, so instead I’m going to talk about the 3 things that stood out most.
- Reading is vital for intellectual growth.
You’ll notice very quickly that all of the children are incredibly literate. There are many scenes where the children they are shown reading a book. In the beginning of the film, they are shown around a campfire, each reading a book and Ben (the father) asks them how far along each book they have gotten. One of the youngest ones, Zaja–who cannot be any more than just eight-years-old–is on page 398 of Middlemarch by George Eliot, arguably the greatest British novel according to this article from BBC. The movie demonstrates that there is a direct correlation between one’s intellectual capacity and one’s ability to comprehend literature, and this is heavily displayed throughout the film.
2. “Power to the people. Stick it to the man.”
A repeating phrase throughout the film, this mantra, if you will, is a call to action directed at the viewer to be more involved with political, social, and environmental issues within our society. I’m sure that this isn’t the first time that you’ve heard of this phrase (and probably won’t be the last) but it is a popular ideology among many grassroots movements that encourages people to act against forms of oppression usually caused by an older, more conservative generation.
3. Coca-Cola is “poison water.”
Alright I know that some of you may laugh when you see this off the bat, but hear me out! I love an ice-cold cola on a hot, summer’s day just like the rest of you, but have you ever actually looked at the ingredients that are in it?? One ingredient that jumps out to me is “phosphoric acid.” According to the National Library of Medicine phosphoric acid is not only used in dentistry and orthodontics as an etching solution, but it is corrosive to metals and tissue and is used in making fertilizers and detergents (PubChem).