Thursday, August 11, 2011
The story begins with a family of 5 owls, 2 parents, 2 brothers, and a little sister. One of the brothers, Soren, loves to repeat his father's stories about "the Guardians of Ga'Hoole", a "mythical group of warrior owls, who once saved all owlkind from the evil 'Pure Ones' in a great battle in which the Guardians' leader, Lyze of Kiel, defeated the Pure Ones' leader Metal Beak" to his little sister, Eglantine. The other brother, Kludd, teases Soren for his "dreams" and soft-headedness.
After the brothers are given a lesson in flying from their father (Soren being the better flyer) and their parents leave to go hunting, the brothers fall from their tree and land on the ground. They're being attacked by some sort of large muskrat when two other owls swoop down and save their lives. However, these owls, it turns out, are part of the "Pure Ones" and have kidnapped the brothers. They're brought to St. Aegolious, the home of the Pure Ones, where Soren is enslaved as a "picker", and Kludd, after denying his brother, becomes a favorite of Nyra, the wife of Metal Beak and second-in-command. She, of course, poisons his mind.
Meanwhile, Soren meets a smaller owl, also kidnapped, named Gylfie, and promises her that the two of them will escape. As pickers, they're job is to break apart the discarded owl waste looking for shiny metal fleks. These are used to build some sort of super weapon. The two are able to escape when one of the Pure Ones admits he's been looking for someone like Soren to help escape, and to find the Guardians for help.
After an eventful journey, they find the Guardians' island and convince them to help all those who have been kidnapped. I won't go any further in the story, but I will point out a few things. The Pure Ones tactics are evil and cowardice. They kidnap young owls, then tell them that their parents abandoned them and have become orphans. They brainwash and "moon-blink" them (a sort of hypnosis) into serving their purposes. The Pure Ones' goal is to take over the entire owl kingdom and become their rulers. They are a pure manifestation of "the political means".
The Guardians, by way of contrast, lead a community of the virtuous. There's is a society of voluntaryist institutions. They are brave defenders of the weak. And on top of that, Ezylryb, who is in fact Lyze of Kiel, and chronicler of the Guardians' stories, makes it very clear to Soren that battle is not glorious and is not heroic. Battle is a horrible thing but something that must be done in order to protect their freedoms.
What this movie demonstrates is exactly the libertarian argument. Good is voluntary institutions, bravery, and doing all you can to avoid war. Evil is conscription, slavery, brainwashing, and the desire to rule over others. It provided a wonderful mentoring opportunity for my son. We talked all about these things when the movie ended. I made it clear to me son that being a "coward" means you are afraid of responsibility, and that cowards try to force others to do something that they don't want to do. And that doing so is wrong. I couldn't recommend a better movie for kids to see the difference between good and evil in a fun and exciting way.