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Filmmaker Letter

Filmmaker Letter

Captain Fantastic

by writer/director Matt Ross

Captain Fantastic is about many things—parenting and parenthood, the many Americas within the United States of America—but at its core, it’s about the choices we make and how they impact those around us.

It’s also the most personal story I’ve ever written. I have two kids and until they came into my life, I didn’t understand how deeply one could love another human being. I understood and had experienced romantic love, love between brothers, love for relatives, parents, friends. But until I had kids of my own, I had not experienced love that deep, selfless or profound.

The main character of the film, Ben Cash (Viggo Mortensen), is a father whose commitment to his children is, for me, aspirational. He has given up whatever professional ambitions he might have had to devote his every waking moment to raising his children.

It’s up to you to decide whether this is insane. Or whether it’s insanely great.

At best, a film—or any piece of art: literature, a painting, a song, a novel—can spark deep self-reflection, cause us to examine our lives and the choices we make.

I love films that ask questions, but don’t overtly answer those questions, respecting me enough to come to my own conclusions.

I love films that require me to be an active participant, to read the movie.

I go to movies for many reasons, as we all do, but the Holy Grail for me is a film that’s both emotionally moving and intellectually stimulating. Many films do one. Few do both. I don’t want only to be transported. I want a story that makes me feel, but also adds to the ongoing conversation about what it is to be human.

These were all goals when I wrote Captain Fantastic.

I think, in the end, everything I write deals with this central question: Given how short our time on this earth actually is—and if we are defined by our actions, not just our words—what kind of person are you going to be?

We all want to make our lives count.

Captain Fantastic is about one man’s journey as he struggles to make his life count.