Directed by Benh Zeitlin
Date of release: 2012
Hushpuppy: Quvenzhané Wallis
Wink : Dwight Henry
Jean Battiste: Levy Easterly
“Once there was a Hushpuppy,” the narrator (Hushpuppy herself) informs us at the very beginning. This 5-year-old (?) girl, living in tough circumstances in a stretch of Louisiana bayou called the Bathtub, very much resembles your average heroine of a fairy tale. She is cute, she believes in a kind of magic, her mum has disappeared and she wishes her back. There is more of it but not exactly fairy-tale-ish anymore.
Beasts of the Southern Wild is a fantastical, emotionally powerful journey. Its magic is that it does not worry too much about distinguishing among the real and fantastic elements of this quest, or inviting the viewer to sort them into different levels of meaning. We are presented the world as a child might experience it. Of course it may be possible to surmise, in retrospect, that the aurochs, the mythic beasts, freed from the Arctic ice, are symbolic, that Hushpuppy’s bittersweet meeting with her mother is a dream (or a case of mistaken identity) and that the actual world this child inhabits is more full of weeping than she can understand. Still the filmmaker comes from a perspective of great empathy and considerable skill. I appreciate such an approach.
|Glamourized poverty by Murillo|
|Glamourized powerty in the movie|
I suppose this movie might be a great example of such a trend as it tries to present the unreal, beautiful life of utter poverty which doesn’t exist and an unreal, idealized community, full of people who are nice, wretchedly destitute, idle drunkards and proud of it. They think their way of life is not only interesting, good for children and for themselves, but also something worth preserving and cultivating. I was waiting and waiting for them to wake up at some point – in vain. Really, sometimes their blindness made me very angry because, let’s face it, what future are they going to pass to the band of kids they take care of? A five-year-old girl might think her hovel of a house is the best place on Earth but any adult would be able to tell her otherwise, even her dear papa, who, while dying, doesn’t think how to ensure a good home for his beautiful little daughter. What a senseless waste.