Movie Review – Beasts of the Southern Wild

Posted: May 26, 2013 in Movie Reviews
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Like the title the movie is a confusing one. It’s an amalgamation of documentary with fiction what you can call it as a docu fiction. It’s an unwritten rule that Oscars will definitely nominate a film based on global issue, a film based on American independence, a film about the black rights etc. A meager one or two film get nominated outside this list and even they are out looked when it comes to getting selected as winners. Beasts of the Southern Wild falls into this regular category of films which deals with global warming but with a difference.


The film is a mix of fantasy and documentary. If it works for you, you could call this genius film making but if not the literal meaning of the film will get you nowhere near the purpose it wanted to achieve. Hushpuppy (a nice name for 9 year old Quvenzhané Wallis) is taught in school that, because of global warming prehistoric creatures called Aurochs are going to come alive. They don’t use the word global warming. As an effect of already happened global warming these inhabitants live their lives in their own style in a secluded place called ‘Bath Tub.’ Their place and the rest of the world are separated by a single huge fence raised around their place.

Hushpuppy, by her father and by the rest of the people surrounding her is taught to stay true to the nature. The Aurochs that she is taught to her is a creature which no one has seen. She barely sees the outline of the creature. From my research the creatures which appear in the movie resemble least bit like Aurochs. Aurochs doesn’t look as menacing as it does in the movie. But when a nine year old is repeatedly taught about a creature and induced fear the kid could only think of a creature which is as magnanimous and menacing as it appears in the film. It’s just her fragment of imagination.

Only after careful scrutinisation I came to know that Hushpuppy is a girl. All the while I was thinking that she is a boy. It’s not my mistake though. And the chemistry between her and her father is one of the beautiful dad daughter relationship. The best thing about the relationship is that it’s not stereotypic. They are people who don’t know how to express love for each other.

It’s a beautifully written movie. Hushpuppy sets her house ablaze when she gets angry on her dad. It’s a typical animal instinct. A girl who is brought up by a drunkard dad doesn’t know much on how to differentiate between good and bad. That’s how she takes revenge on her dad. But the same kid after hitting her dad in his chest and seeing him get a cardiac arrest becomes sad but doesn’t panic. She runs in search of help to make her dad alright. For her, her dad is the only being in the world that she could show her love and hate. Because she doesn’t know the limits to which she should go to express her love and hate.

After the fight the residents prepare themselves for the upcoming story which ensures an emotional scene between the father and his child. In fact the only emotional scene in this movie where he fires gunshots in the open to scare away the storm which makes Hushpuppy more afraid. She sits silently in the cover for the storm to get over. Once the storm gets over Hushpuppy and her dad go to the devasted place to find out for the remaining residents. To their surprise they find a lot many people still there. Their celebration is as weird as it could get. Once again the scene was brilliantly performed by young Quvenzhané Wallis. Once their celebration gets over they make plans to drain the water from their land by bombing the levee and letting the water drain into the country. This incident makes the people from the county to come and save them. The residents are forcefully led to hospital where they would be treated and they could live a better life with all the facilities made by the civilized people. None of the residents are happy but. We see a lot many people struggling in their environment and the rest tired of fight.

It’s like how we treat the animals. Whatever environment you provide for the animal which is in distress wouldn’t equal to the place it lived to. We think we are making their life easy by providing all the comfort but what actually they long is to be free in their place. That’s the general notion. But again like Pi says in Life of Pi animals could be happier in zoo because they have a refined place for themselves, they get food, they get shelter and they don’t have to worry about anything. It could be either way because we don’t exactly know what the animals’ thoughts are. We think we are broad minded people and either help them or suppress. In both ways we are not doing them any favor. We should leave them to lead a life they want to live. Our freedom is correct only till their freedom is not disturbed.

The director Benh Zeitlin talks about the effect of globalization through these series of incidents. It’s a great idea to have used fantasy as a background for an issue based film. Some might even find it hard to consider this a fantasy. It’s a general assumption that fantasy must be associated with the magnanimity like how people expect frame to frame cuteness out of animation films. It’s a nice cliché that was broken but again as the film was issue based and was trying to forcefully preach me lessons I wasn’t much impressed. I appreciate the art in this craft but I would definitely not be watching this film to understand the depth if there is any and analyze more. For me it’s a broken yet beautiful vase.


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