Report of our EXpedition

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Taming the "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

What would it be like to live in the middle of a swamp, in a post Katrina or post apocalyptic world? What if you saw this world from the imagination/reality of a child. That's where I arrived when I opened my eyes to the film, Beast of the Southern Wild. The film opens in a celebration with the people of the "Bathtub", a community living in the middle of the Mississippi delta, inside of a levee. This community is a hodgepodge of races, cultures, the eclectic, and the strange. The narrator of this unusual story is Hushpuppy, a tough, spunky, and independent six year old girl, who is raised by her equally tough but slightly off father, Wink.

As I watched this film, I couldn't tell where realty crossed to fantasy or when fantasy reawakened again to reality. In between listening to the heartbeat of every animal she came upon, or handfishing with her father, Hushpuppy envisioned the escape of prehistoric beasts, released from melting polar ice caps. For her, the universe had to always be in balance, and the escape of these beasts represented just that. The film moved as it were visual poetry, weaving in and out of realism and the fantastic mind of a child. I wonder if adults would have the flexibility to still absorb or understand the idealism of such an imagination.

For a first time effort, director and writer Benh Zeitlin runs full blast into a visually stunning, epic, and artistic piece. It's also hard to believe that the stars of the film, Dwight Henry(Wink) , and the truly amazing Quvenzhané Wallis(Hushpuppy) were just regular people discovered in Louisiana. This film will either disappoint with its confusion, entrance you with its artistry, or leave you longing to understand its meaning. But whatever you take from this film, I hope that you would appreciate the remarkable talent of Quvenzhané Wallis, in a performance that I hope will be awarded come Oscar time.

"Beasts of the Southern Wild" Official Trailer