Aussie Film a “Must See” For Property Rights Fans

May 1, 2001

May 2001

Aussie Film a “Must See” For Property Rights Fans

By Matthew Berry

Although The Castle is an Australian film, its values are ones with which Americans—especially IJ supporters—will identify.  Transport the film’s protagonist, Darryl Kerrigan, from Melbourne, Australia, to Melbourne, Florida, and one could easily say that Darryl has achieved the American Dream.

Darryl may not be wealthy, but he makes ends meet by operating his own tow truck company.  He loves his wife, four children and greyhound dogs.  And, most importantly for purposes of the film, he loves his home.

Sure, it sits so close to an international airport’s runway that Darryl can practically read a pilot’s nametag as jumbo jets roar in for their landings, and huge high-voltage electric towers surround his humble home with a constant buzz.  He doesn’t care.  If anything, Darryl thinks that adds to its charm and value.  (“Location, location, location,” he boasts to an assessor.)  He’s put his sweat and toil into the place, and it’s filled with his family’s memories.  Put simply, there’s no place on earth that Darryl would rather live.

You can imagine Darryl’s astonishment, then, when he is told his home is to be taken through “compulsory acquisition,” the Australian term for eminent domain.  Big business has convinced the government that the local airport needs to be expanded.

Like so many IJ clients, Darryl can’t understand how the government can get away with this.  He owns his home, and he doesn’t want to sell it!  So he hires a lawyer and wages a fight to keep “his castle.”

The movie is a funny and heartfelt account of Darryl’s struggle.  The film portrays its eccentric characters in a humorous yet affectionate manner.  While Darryl’s foibles as well as those of his family are the source of many laughs, the filmmakers consistently portray the Kerrigans as a decent family whose old-fashioned values are to be admired, not mocked.

Rent The Castle the next time you’re at the video store.  It’s rare that a high-quality film has the added benefit of embracing conservative or libertarian values.

Matthew Berry is an Institute for Justice attorney as well as IJ’s resident film critic.

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