Captain Fantastic director Matt Ross: We yearn for a slower life
Captain Fantastic director Matt Ross on the need to reconnect with nature in a technology-driven world, like his film's protagonist
The acclaimed 2016 release Captain Fantastic - revolving around the life of a family forced to reinstate into society after having grown up in isolation amidst nature - reignited discussion around minimising the role played by technology in the upbringing of kids. Ross talks to mid-day about the film, which recently premiered on Sony Le Plex and the place of films in an era where TV dominates.
Do you think the methods of upbringing, as described in your film, could be encouraged in reality?
Concepts such as removing oneself from the constant need to be connected to technology, learning to hunt and cook, learning to play music and enjoying the outdoors could, and should be embraced. Much of the modern world is miraculous: our homes are heated, we have clean water, and we can get food when we need it. Our phones connect us with each other and with vast amounts of information. But there is also an intense yearning for a slower life, one with time to read, contemplate, play music and connect with each other; for a life removed from the constant distraction and stimulation of the modern world.
Being an actor and director, tell us how one craft influences the other?
Both are interpretive. I write to direct. Coming to directing through writing means that I'm inside the material; it's personal to me. So, I have ownership as the author, in a way that I never have as an actor. But, acting and directing are similar. They are both about translating and modulating the written word into drama. They both focus on the nuance of human behaviour.
Do you think TV has replaced theatres?
People will always desire to watch a film on a huge screen with incredible sound. Obviously, as people continue to have bigger TVs with great sound systems at home, the need to go out will diminish. But, the desire to experience a movie communally will never die. TV has changed. In the US, there are so many channels offering excellent content. US studios, [on the other hand], are in the business of making films for the global market. Each movie needs to make enormous amounts of money, and therefore, the films are conventional, spectacles, and based on pre-existing material. TV can explore personal, bolder stories. In the US, TV is outshining the films coming out of studios.
Have you noticed the work of any Indian actors or filmmakers involved in the online space or films?
My favourite Indian filmmaker is Satyajit Ray. He was a great humanist and I was deeply affected, and inspired, by many of his films. I've watched, and admired, the work of Mira Nair. Irrfan Khan is also someone I've always thought brings depth and nuance to everything he does.