Captain Fantastic on Arte: is the film based on a true story?


In “Captain Fantastic”, a father played by Viggo Mortensen tries to raise his children away from the modern world. Is Matt Ross’ feature film based on a true story? There is indeed a part of truth in this beautiful feature film.

Captain fantastic : how to raise children away from the world?

We know that there are people in this world who refuse to integrate into society. Thus, they adopt an alternative lifestyle, away. This is precisely what it is about in Captain fantastic. Matt Ross’ film caused a sensation at Cannes in 2016, when it was staged in the category In some perspective. It must be said that with the always very good Viggo Mortensen at the head of the bill, he had a solid argument to bait us.

The Danish-American actor plays Ben Cash, a father who finds himself in a delicate position when his wife, Leslie, is interned for psychiatric problems. At the head of a tribe of six children, he questions himself and no longer knows if this life away from the world is the best thing for them. It will not be long before he will be forced to confront civilization. An unexpected event forces the family to break out of their bubble.

Captain fantastic © Bleecker Street Films

A true story ? Not entirely

Director Matt Ross came up with the idea for Captain fantastic by wanting to talk about the responsibility of being a parent. This stage in a life shows things differently. In turn, education must be provided, according to its principles and beliefs. This issue is at the center of his scenario. He also drew on his own life for this story. While we can’t say that this is a true story, it is still largely inspired by real elements.

As a child, Matt Ross grew up under the watchful eye of a single mother who wanted to get away from modern society. Instead of knowing the joys and the drawbacks of the city, little Matt was wandered between several autonomous communities. In other words, he had a childhood without TV and fashionable games. During an interview for Pulp Movies, he returned to this time:

We lived in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere. Some houses had running water and electricity, some did not. We slept in a tipi when summer came.

With such a past, it was obvious that the director would seek to use it in his cinematographic work. He could very well have made a film about it, with a point of view that would have espoused that of a child. However, he took a different approach, drawing on his story to evoke a more current obsession. As he puts it so well: “It’s less inspired by my own experience, than by my aspiration to be a good father.

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