No film in recent history has featured the Boy Scouts as prominently as Wes Anderson’s critically acclaimed Moonrise Kingdom. It’s a young-lovers-on-the-run type of story, filmed on location at the Yagoog Scout Reservation in Rhode Island, and while it may not be my favorite of Anderson’s films, it’s hard not to appreciate his nostalgic recreation of a mid-century Boy Scout camp, even if the scouts there are recast as the Khaki Scouts of North America.
In 1965, Sam Shakusky, a Khaki Scout and local misfit, jumps the fence at Camp Ivanhoe to rendezvous with his pen pal, Suzy Bishop, at a hidden cove along the New England coastline—where their romance inevitably matures. Their elopement, however, does not go unnoticed, and the pair is pursued across the countryside by a patrol of vigilante-like Khaki Scouts, who intended to drag Sam back into their uniformed ranks.
This is the part I like best because Moonrise Kingdom sheds light on the agonizing conflict fought between the individual and the mob, a conflict that hides deep down beneath every scout’s khaki uniform. Throughout his journey with Suzy, Sam proves his merit as a Khaki Scout. He is a guide, self-sufficient and useful too, but it’s also the scouting movement, which helped him develop these virtues, that cannot condone his eccentric departure from camp—all for the sake of a young girl’s affection. Sam cannot quit the movement without a punishment commensurate with the crime, indeed.
But Moonrise Kingdom is a romance from start to finish, and by its conclusion, Sam and Suzy’s pursuers become their loyal accomplices.