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In the utopian Walden Two, B. F. Skinner claims that humanity is incapable of being reduced to a singular mindset. Walden Two founder T.E. Frazier is more than aware of the individual’s need for assurance and their intrinsic need to flock to those than can provide necessities of life. Whether Frazier was a closet-capitalist is beside the point—his support of the Orwellian Managers becomes an affront to individualism. For him, success lies in numbers and the triumph of one man over another is never to be lauded. Together, Lukas Moodysson’s timeless piece of hippie lore, isn’t so much an argument in favor of bourgeois order (the film’s anti-communers are slaves—one to the bottle, another to masturbation) as it is an incredible exploration of societal fear of chaos. Moodysson is hopeful, tracing that uncharted gray area between capitalism and Marxism. Though he seemingly defends communism he nonetheless pokes fun at its inability to acknowledge man’s egotistical trappings.

Anna’s foe-lesbianism can be seen as an anti-bourgeois response; she hopes that “free love” will liberate her. Lasse, her ex-husband, is wary of her actions, though he too submits to homo-love by way of the dopey Klas and rocks Anna’s thinly-constructed worldview. More successful, though, is Moodysson’s evocation of Goran’s inner angst. Goran allows his girlfriend Lena to have sex with his pal Eric. Though not exactly stripped of his free will, he supports the idea that free-floating affection is crucial to the success of group order. When Lena achieves her first-ever orgasm from Eric (Goran is painfully forced to hear it), Moodysson suggests that free love can liberate as much as it can destroy. Moodysson humorously details the communer’s affinity for the outré (posters of Che, Mao and the Berlin Olympics decorate the house) and their need to blow hot air (the fictional kid’s character Pippi Longstocking is viewed as a materialist pig). “Washing up is bourgeois,” says Anna as she stands naked in the kitchen, interrupting household chores. Lasse reacts, pulling down his own pants to the horror of Goran’s sister and her two children.

Skinner’s Walden Two community stripped children of their humanity and indoctrinated them into group thinking via aquariums. This is where the failure of the community is inscribed. Both Skinner’s Walden Two and Moodysson’s commune fail to account for the unpredictable and the role of their pre-political children. Stefan and Eva find it difficult to adjust to the ideals of the house: TV is forbidden, gifts are frowned upon and vegetarianism is extolled. Stefan is called a fascist after mistaking a boy’s gym slippers for “girl shoes” while Eva spends lonely nights in the house’s Volkswagen van hoping to escape the adults whose politics she calls “stupid.” Tet (Axel Zuber)—named by his parents after the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive—is in awe of Stefan’s Legos (he never had such a luxury and, because his father was a naturalist, his two Lego pieces were carved out of wood). Just as Stefan seemingly begins to adjust to life inside the commune, the children revolt: he and Tet begin to play war games (playing the role of Pinochet and victim) and ultimately stage a We Want Meat campaign. A television set is bought into the house, hot dogs are eaten and, as a result, the walls of the commune begin to crumble.

Walden Two’s narrator specifically blames the failure of Frazier’s Walden Two on the commune’s refusal to change the world “outside.” Much of the action in Together takes place indoors. Though the pawns in Moodysson’s experiment celebrate the death of Spain’s Franco, their disconnection from the exterior world is strangely passive. Moodysson criticizes those too far to the left and suggests that the success of group homogenization (and communism itself) will be compromised as soon as personal interests take over. Walden Two is as classic a behavioral primer as it is a fantastical farce on the sacrifice of personal freedom. Together similarly admonishes its creatures of discomfort for their fear of the outside world and their disrespect for individual choice and preference (sexual, cultural, political). The film doesn’t seek to destroy its group as much as it suggests that hippies and their bourgeois “enemies” should meet somewhere in the middle. Moodysson may not know where the middle lies but the film’s liberating, snowy finale is at least hopeful and ripe with possibilities.

IFC Films
106 min
Lukas Moodysson
Lukas Moodysson
Lisa Lindgren, Michael Nyqvist, Gustav Hammarsten, Anja Lundkvist, Jessica Liedberg, Ola Norell, Shanti Roney, Sam Kessel, Emma Samuelsson, Lars Frode, Cecilia Frode, Henrik Lundström, Thérèse Brunnander, Claes Hartelius, Olle Sarri, Axel Zuber, Sten Ljunggren, Emil Moodysson