Like most kids, I once tried to run away from home, though for me, I’m afraid it involved a rather poorly hatched plan that seemed to dwindle in importance as the day wore on, so much so that by the time night fell, I was too sleepy to carry it out and completely forgot the desk chair that I had placed beneath my bedroom window to better facilitate my midnight escape. Over breakfast the next morning I caught a glimpse of my father coming across the back garden with the chair in his arms and a bemused expression on his face. We never mentioned the incident and I’m afraid I never seriously entertained the idea of running away again. But for those few brief moments the afternoon I considered it, the whole idea seemed totally within the realm of possibility. I could, if I chose to, run away to an island where I could eat ice cream, stay up as late as I wished, never have to go to Sunday School and have sheep for pets. It made perfect sense to me. Such is the wonder of childhood.
There is a simple reason that children love fairy tales. It is easy for them to believe they are true. Trolls under bridges, carpets that fly. Witches that eat you, bears that can talk. All these plot lines seem perfectly plausible to a child. If their life feels restricted or too black and white, they can seriously plan their escape. With an old suitcase packed with essentials - books and records, a stuffed animal, a kitten - they consider their options carefully. The circus, the fair, the beach or the lake - any of these places could work out just fine. A child’s sense of grand possibility, limited only by individual imagination, has less to do with innocence than it does with a certain quirk of intelligence, a crinkle of thought that opens the door to fantasy and, for a few fortunate souls, allows it to remain ajar well past adulthood.
I was reminded of my childhood this past week when I watched the new Wes Anderson film, Moonrise Kingdom. Decidedly quirky, it is a movie best enjoyed by someone who well remembers what it felt like to be a child. The light is golden, adults are strange, binoculars give you magic powers, and true love is, well, true. For someone like myself, for whom the door into fantasy has never closed a fraction, it was an utter treat. It is incredibly funny and, with a soundtrack that features Francoise Hardy, Hank Williams and Benjamin Britten, it proved the perfect way to spend two hours on a hot, hot day.
See the trailer HERE.
See the trailer HERE.