Director: Benh Zeitlin
Starring: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, Levy Easterly
Running Time: 93 Minutes
Extras: Making Of, Casting, Deleted Scenes with Director’s Commentary, Award-winning short film ‘Glory At Sea’, Trailer.
Every year there are a few films that unexpectedly hit the mainstream and BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD is a prime example with all the right intentions. Set in a southern community and seemingly cut off from the rest of the modern Western world, Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) lives with her alcoholic father Wink (Dwight Henry) in what they call the ‘Bathtub’.
In this screenplay by Lucy Alibar and director Benh Zeilin, tough love and life, has never been a more relative observation as Hushpuppy lives like an adult but is only 6-years-old. Her home is her own shack on stilts above any possible high-tides and when a bell rings in her hut, this indicates dinner is ready and she sprints like a feral animal for food. But her character also isn’t played as a fervent outsider by young Wallis, she’s still a kid but everything about her is a curious mash-up of child-like curiosity and adult destruction – the perfect reflection of the world around her.
When Wink’s health begins to quickly fade, nature begins to take a turn for the worst .The ice-caps begin to melt which, in turn, not only release mystical prehistoric beasts called Aurochs but then the seas begin to rise and their lives are in literal danger of being washed away.
I sometimes find that true escapism on a visceral and intellectual level can be a rare realisation in cinema but when you’re driven deep into a world like BEASTS, you’re given the opportunity to explore the possible.
BEASTS represents a literal and metaphorical fight at the same time, plus discovers personal strength that builds through experience and grows in times of hardship. It also pays a due to the honesty of family in any situation and that character can be stronger than any physical battle. Quvenzhané Wallis exerts a maturity beyond her years and excels in a somewhat matriarch society, where neither sex are necessarily the toughest but the women – for me -show more intellect and ingenuity.
You could also claim that BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD is a symbolic juxtaposition to the reality of climate change, and an internal struggle of the Earth. The Auroch Beasts representing a fantastical element of nature, with Hushpuppy becoming the counterweight of human existence and an eventual literal calming effect, therefore creating a story underneath that says ‘We can sort our world out, if we try.’
Whatever you think BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD stands for, you’ll never forget its intentions and in this respect, the words mystical, powerful and captivating haven’t been this relevant in film for a long time.
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD is available to order now on Blu-ray and DVD via this link.