Beasts of the Southern Wild


The other night I saw a movie that seeped so deeply into me, I continue to leak.  Perhaps it was all the flooding and potential flooding that was depicted. Or perhaps it was all the potential ideas that were birthed into my brain as I watched and images that started out ugly and were transformed into beautiful ones. It's a movie called Beasts of the Southern Wild. Right from the very first scene,  where the young heroine, Hushpuppy, constructs a bird's nest out of mud, you are thrust into a place of both grubby decay and flourishing beauty. The location, called the Bathtub, is initially hard to pinpoint. It is muddy and filthy and full of rotting things, but as you go along you start to recognize that it is somewhere in Louisiana.  It depicts life in a  community, marginalized by choice, through the eyes of a young girl.  Although grim and disgusting, the place is very much a place of joy and survival.  Hushpuppy explains that "The Bathtub has more holidays than the whole rest of the world".  

Her voice helps you navigate this world you have not been to before.  Mostly fable, she lives in a community that only has one time, and that time is NOW.  She searches for her mother and is raised in a community, though decrepit and threatened with flooding at anytime, that is loving and that fosters a oneness with the natural world.  It is very hard to explain and I think that is down to the immediacy it forces you into.  Through the child's eyes you see a world without watches, but the adults live without them too.  The only markers that bring familiarity are oil refineries, seen far off in the distance, that you never see up close and they seem so alien in this environment of catching and eating fish directly out of the ocean with your hands.

Later, when members of the community are temporarily extracted out of this environment, the world we are used to seeing seems like a "fish tank without water" to Hushpuppy.

Others, like Roger Ebert, do a great job of reviewing it so I won't do that. I'll just encourage you to see it. It is a brilliant movie because it has the bravery to make you see things that are squirmy and challenging and yet they cast a spell that allows you the freedom to draw whatever you wish from it.  By forcing you into the moment of now, you bear witness to the implications of Hushpuppy coming to terms with her father's illness and her place in the world.

"The whole universe depends on everything fitting together just right. If one piece busts, even the smallest piece... the entire universe will get busted."-Hushpuppy, Beasts of the Southern Wild 2012




"Once there was a Hushpuppy, and she lived with her daddy in the Bathtub."

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