WINNER: TOP 25 LIBERTARIAN FILMS
When an airport attempts to “compulsorily acquire” a home in its vicinity through the use of eminent domain, the homeowner it intends to evict fights back. [Dir: Robert Sitch/ Michael Caton, Anne Tenney, Stephen Curry/ 82 min/ Comedy, Drama/ Australia/ Eminent Domain]
A man’s home is his castle. Hence the title of this wonderful Australian film about just what that dictum means. The hero is a quirky homeowner who’s up against a politically powerful airport that wants to expand where his home happens to be. The airport invokes eminent domain to force him to sell it. However, the homeowner resists and a legal battle ensues.
The homeowner is hopelessly naive about the complexities of law and the inexperienced local attorney he hires is quickly outgunned in court by the airport’s professional legal staff. All seems lost, until a kindly old gentleman comes to his aid. He reveals himself to be a retired legal lion, a former “Queen’s Counsel” in the Australian legal system, and he takes the case all the way to the highest court in the land.
All this sounds pretty serious, but this film is actually more comedy than drama. Much of the comedic effect comes from just how tacky this “castle” really is. It’s just a run-down house on to which the homeowner himself has built some amateur extensions. It has a fake chimney, an oversized doghouse, and inelegant decorations. But that’s the point. This is the worst-case scenario. It’s not the objective market value of a home that determines either its value to the owner or his legal right to own it. To this homeowner, this home happens to be of enormous value, partly because he’s tailored it to his peculiar tastes and partly because it’s full of happy family memories. He’s a man who finds the good in everything touched by those he loves, and those things, like his house, become more valuable to him because of that association.
Also, in a small detail Randians at least will appreciate, he actually likes being next to the airport and directly under the power lines. The power lines, he says, represent what man can accomplish.
This is a gentle, upbeat film that amuses by lightly mocking middle-class life, while at the same time giving it implicit respect for the simple happiness and independence that it makes possible. And in the course of telling this story, it makes a lot of points libertarians will like. This film was the audience favorite at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. Its “R” rating seems entirely unjustified, as there is no sex or violence.
External Reviews of The Castle
“A jubilantly funny and optimistic fable, beautifully acted.”
“This is truly a movie about liberty. Though the conflict in the film is with a corporatist state, the film is a comedy and it’s central focus is this quirky but loving family and their castle that is more than a house…
It’s a home. A great, fun, Rothbardian film.”
“The Castle reminds us of the value of small gestures, assuming the best in people, picking your fights and being fiercely loyal to those you love. When offered a tidy packet to sell his home, Darryl responds with a line that distills the film’s emotional essence: ‘You can’t buy what I’ve got.'”
“A nice defense of private property, and very funny to boot.”