My friends have been telling me to watch this movie for a while now. The other night I was twiddling my thumbs I begrudgingly decided to see it after loving The Royal Tenenbaums so much. After an hour and a half of watching a bunch of kids run around a giant island with camping supplies, records, and a cat in a basket that does not assume a significant enough role in the movie, I can say that I’m happy I finally watched it. The film brought up some themes I found interesting.
Respect for children
Something immediate I saw was the theme of adults, parents especially, and their role to respect and never give up on children. Sam is revealed an orphan in the first half of the movie after he escapes which may be the cause of his emotional problems and we literally see Sam’s foster parents abandon him right before our very eyes. Though each adult is (rationally) against Sam and Suzie’s escape and wishes to be together, they eventually side with them over the course of the movie. Their restrictive attitudes progressively loosen, and their protectiveness strengthens when the woman from social services informs him that Sam will undergo electroshock therapy and be placed in a juvenile detention center, which fundamentally crosses the line for them in a moral sense. The sheriff shows his respect for Sam by housing him for a night, sharing whiskey with him and acknowledging the fact that Sam might be more intelligent than he. To prevent Sam and Suzie’s deaths from jumping off the top of the church, the sheriff proposes that Sam live with him to the woman from social services, spearheaded by the legal contributions from Suzie’s parents. In the end, I see this as a message to adults that they ultimately cannot prevent children from doing what they want, so it is their role to provide freedom to pursue their desires safely with guidance and protection. Wes Anderson portrays children and the complexity of their emotions, and better yet, the validation of their feelings on behalf of the adults.
Happiness despite irrationality
Suzie’s parents were textbook successful. They were well off lawyers, had a nice house, several children, and were thriving. Yet they were not happy. Suzie’s mother cheats on her husband (displayed in a forward but uncomplicated and unemotional way) and it is shown that they sleep in separate beds. The love Suzie and Sam share is irrational and lacks maturity, but they find happiness together despite the dangerous choices they make.
Transition from childhood into adulthood via sexuality/romance
Sexuality and romance played an interesting role in Moonrise Kingdom, due to their age. Their love was unconventional and they never talked about their feelings for each other beyond their declarations of their love. They both shared unhappy home situations and were both pariahs among their peers. Their love seemed simple and pure.
Their introduction to sexuality was gentle and very reflective of their age. While dancing in their underwear on the beach to Le Temps de L’Amour by Françoise Hardy, they tried normal kissing and then moved onto French kissing. “It feels hard” Suzie uttered right after their French kiss experiment as they held each other. This creates a sly but knowing ambiguity for the audience as to whether she thought the act of French kissing was difficult or if she was referring to Sam having a boner. She let him touch her small yet developing breasts, and said she thought they were going to get bigger. Displaying them actually having sex was out of the question, so to compromise, a strange few seconds occurred when Sam pierced Suzie’s ears with the beetle earrings he fashioned out of fishing hooks. She was gasping in pain for a few moments as he stabbed her through her right earlobe, but when it was all said and done and blood was streaming down her neck, she told him to do the other one. Their burgeoning sexuality was whimsical and still beamed with purity and innocence. All in all, their experiences of love and sexuality were fumbling and experimental, a believable occurrence for a pair of 12 year olds. Despite the fact that this movie was intended for a more adult audience, I would say these displays of sexuality were age appropriate and reasonable enough to show adolescent children.
All in all, I enjoyed this movie and vow to watch the rest of Wes Anderson’s work.