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ew Penzance Island, 1905. Walt and Laura Bishop live on the New England island of New Penzance with their three young sons and troubled 12-year-old Suzy, who is secretive, solitary, and prone to fits of aggression. The island is nervously awaiting a violent storm, due to hit in a few days’ time. On the other side of the island, Troop 55 of the Khaki Scouts is spending the summer at Camp Ivanhoe, under the leadership of Scoutmaster Randy Ward. It is noticed that the most unpopular scout, 12-year-old Sam Shakusky, has fled camp during the night, leaving Ward a letter of resignation from the Scouts and stealing a canoe and supplies. Ward sends the remaining scouts (and the camp dog, Snoopy) out to hunt for Sam, and the boys speak of him with a mixture of hostility and fear, as he is believed to be emotionally disturbed and possibly dangerous.


nbeknownst to anyone but themselves, Sam and Suzy had been pen pals for months after meeting backstage during a production of “Noye’s Fludde” at St. Jack’s Church on the island of St. Jack Wood, a neighboring island. Sam was drawn to Suzy’s frank and rebellious personality, while Suzy was charmed by Sam’s bold yet casual manner. Over the next year, they develop a plan to reunite in the summer and run away together. When the chosen date approaches, Sam escapes camp and Suzy slips out of her house with her binoculars, her cat, six library books, and her brother’s record player. They meet in a field and begin their journey. Scoutmaster Ward notifies Police Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) of Sam’s absence, and Sharp makes a call to what he assumes is Sam’s home. It is revealed that Sam is an orphan (which was not listed in Ward’s camp records), and that his foster parents are refusing to take him back, due to a long history of strange and sometimes dangerous behavior displayed by Sam. Sharp and Ward are saddened that their only option is to turn Sam over to Social Services once they find him. Meanwhile, Suzy’s parents discover she is missing, and discover her plan from a shoebox full of letters she received from Sam. Working with Captain Sharp (with whom Laura Bishop is having an affair), they combine their knowledge of the two kids and begin to track them. Meanwhile Suzy and Sam hike through the woods, stopping sporadically for food and conversation. Suzy explains that she wanted to leave home because both she and her family were frustrated with her moods and behavior. Sam has had trouble making friends because of his oddness and shameless independence, and had a turbulent experience with his foster family before going to Camp Ivanhoe. They are finally discovered by the boys of Troop 55, who have all brought weapons. They attempt to

one of the more aggressive scouts with her lucky left-handed scissors, and the camp dog, Snoopy, is accidentally shot through the neck with an arrow. The scouts flee the woods and report back to Sharp, Ward, and Suzy’s parents to inform them of the pair’s whereabouts. The injured scout is taken for medical treatment, and Suzy’s father expresses his rage and frustration at Scoutmaster Ward, blaming him for letting one of “these beige lunatics” run away with his daughter. A veteran resident of the island (Bob Balaban) who had been Sam’s former teacher (and also acts as the narrator for the film) interrupts the ruckus and suggests that they search a cove at the other side of the island, as Sam had expressed an interest in retracing a Native American migration route there. Suzy and Sam set up camp at the cove in question, and bond more while swimming, dancing on the beach, and having their first kiss. Sam makes a pair of earrings for Suzy out of green beetles and fish hooks, which Suzy happily accepts, even allowing Sam to jab the hooks through her un-pierced earlobes. They talk more throughout the evening. Sam paints a picture of Suzy, and Suzy reads aloud from one of her books. They fall asleep content, but are awoken the next morning by Captain Sharp, Scoutmaster Ward, Suzy’s parents, and Troop 55, who finally tracked them down. Sam and Suzy are forcibly separated. Back home, Suzy treats her family with stoic hostility, as they have forbidden her from seeing Sam again. Sam is given a letter from his foster family, making it clear that he cannot return to live with them. Now homeless, Sam is temporarily taken in by Captain Sharp, who develops a bond with the intelligent young outsider. Sharp and Ward, who are sympathetic to Sam’s situation, reluctantly speak to a representative of Social Services (Tilda Swinton), who informs them that due to Sam’s history of troubling behavior, he will have to be placed in “juvenile refuge” and possibly undergo shock therapy.

attack and capture Sam, but there is a brief skirmish in which Suzy stabs


Suzy’s Suit Case Suzy and Sam run away to mile 3.25 inlet together, they decide that the name is too boring and later renamed their secret spot Moonrise Kingdom. Suzy and Sam start as pen pals, and they decide to run away together. Sam sends Suzy a list of what she needs to bring and instructs her to meet him in the medow. The previous page is a glance inside of Suzy’s suit case.

It contains several books which she values greatly. It also contains a record, her favoirte record to be exact. She tells Sam how her mother bought her the Francoise Hardy record from Paris and how she is in love with French musuc. There are also three cans of cat food because Suzy brings her kitten along for their adventure. Lastly are her bincoulars. The binoculars and extremely important to Suzy’s character. She tells Sam that she

Suzy & The Importance Of Her Books The six fictitious books that Suzy packed in her suitcase were stolen from her public library and included Shelly and the Secret Universe, The Francine Odysseys, The Girl from Jupiter, Disappearance of the 6th Grade, The Light of Seven Matchsticks and The Return of Auntie Lorraine. Suzy loves all six of the books. Reading is something that is an important hobby of hers. All of the titles of Suzy’s books loosely adhere to the overall plotline of the movie. From Suzy and Sam’s secret universe that they’ve built for themselves, their odysseys, Suzy’s dark internal world, to returning back home, Suzy’s books offer an imaginative outlet for their summer adventure. The attraction of leaving home, for Suzy, is change and the promise of adventure. Alice’s discovery of an alternate world behind her mirror would

certainly fit such a description. The outlandish characters in the Jabberwocky poem, a transforming Red Queen and an unbirthday-celebrating Humpty Dumpty makes this a better candidate than, say, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis, as the novel presents a sensibility and playfulness with words, logic and language that Anderson’s sharp-witted Suzy could undoubtedly appreciate. Maybe a story about running away is a little accurate, but what’s not to love about sleeping in the ultimate labyrinth that is the Metropolitan Museum of Art? The film captures Suzy and Sam’s feelings of being underappreciated and misunderstood, a feeling that is widespread throughout the brother-sister duo’s sleepover in the gigantic museum. 12

Moonrise flipbook  
Moonrise flipbook